Owens was scheduled to start for Triple-A Pawtucket Monday night in Syracuse. Instead, he will become the eighth rookie Red Sox pitcher since 1914 to begin his big-league career as a starter in Yankee Stadium, replacing veteran Rick Porcello, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sore triceps muscle.
"It's going to be the biggest stage that he's going to make his debut on," Farrell said, "as our schedule has it. Ideally, [it's] another left-hander going against that lineup in that ballpark. We'll see him on Tuesday."
The last Sox rookie to debut at Yankee Stadium was the obscure Robinson Checo, who gave up four runs in 4 1/3 innings on Sept. 16, 1997. The last left-hander was a nearly-as-obscure Vaughan Eshelman, who pitched six shutout innings in an 8-0 victory over the Yankees on May 2, 1995.
The most memorable debut in Yankee Stadium came on April 14, 1967, when a 21-year-old rookie from Toronto named Billy Rohr took a no-hitter into the ninth inning, only to have Elston Howard break it up with a single with two outs. Rohr only won one other game for the Red Sox, and his big-league career ended at age 22 with Cleveland a year later.
Much more is expected of the 23-year-old Owens, the 6-foot-6, 220-pounder who was drafted as a first-round sandwich pick (36th overall) in the 2011 draft. He entered the season as the team's No. 2 pitching prospect, according to Baseball America, with his changeup rated as the best in the entire system.
At Pawtucket, he is 3-8 with a 3.16 ERA, with 103 strikeouts and 56 walks in 122 1/3 innings, and has held opposing batters to a .193 average.
He has pitched six innings or more in each of his last nine starts, limiting the opposition to two or fewer runs in seven of those starts. He struck out a season-high nine batters in back-to-back starts against Lehigh Valley and Durham, and has a 2.64 ERA in that span. After walking 25 batters in his first six starts, including a season-high six in five innings against Syracuse on April 29, Owens has walked just 14 batters in his last nine starts, and no more than two in any of those starts.
"Coming out of spring training, there was some work needed, commanding his body as well as the baseball," Farrell said. "That's been the case the last four weeks or so. In a nutshell , more quality strikes throughout the entire time he's on the mound."
Owens becomes the third rookie left-hander to make a start for the Sox, joining Eduardo Rodriguez and Brian Johnson. Rodriguez is scheduled to pitch the series finale Thursday night against CC Sabathia. Johnson pitched Sunday for Pawtucket and was lifted after just four innings and 60 pitches, a strong indication that he could be recalled to face the Tigers in Detroit on Friday, taking Joe Kelly's spot in the rotation.
Scheduled to pitch Wednesday against the Yankees is knuckleballer Steven Wright, who made his first start for the Red Sox last Sept. 26 against the Yankees in Fenway Park, allowing two unearned runs in five innings and taking the loss in a 3-2 defeat. Wright has nine big-league starts over three seasons. Rodriguez, who has made 12 starts for the Sox this season, is the most experienced starter the Red Sox will be throwing against the Yankees this week.
Porcello joins Clay Buchholz as starters in the rotation at the beginning of the year now land on the disabled list. Justin Masterson has gone from the rotation to the bullpen, Kelly has already been sent down to the minors once this season, and Wade Miley pitched Sunday against the Rays.