There have been calls all season to see the young pitching arms from the Red Sox farm system. The calls started early and were answered in Eduardo Rodriguez. Rodriguez shocked fans in his first three starts, looking like the ace of the staff and not giving only one run in 20.2 innings before he was violently sent back to earth in his fourth start. Then came Brian Johnson, the Red Sox #4 prospect, who made a spot start before being sent back down to AAA. Johnson, facing off against the Houston Astros struggled through only 4.1 innings, allowing 3 hits, 4 runs, 4 walks and struck out 3. Now it is Henry Owens turn.
While Owens is being thrown into the most hostile environment of the three highly touted prospects that have made their MLB debut for the Red Sox this season, he is the one that has the least amount of pressure on him. When Rodriguez was called up it was still May, and there were thought about the Red Sox having a chance this season. When Johnson was called up for a spot start it was right after the All-Star Game and the team was determining if they would be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. With Owens' start, the season is all but over and this call up is to see if he will be able to succeed at the Major League level for seasons to come.
Owens has had a good season in Pawtucket, even if his record says differently. In 21 starts Owens has a record of 3-8 and has pitched 122.1 innings, averaging 5.2 innings per start. In the past Owens has struggled with his command, but this season he seems to have found his command again. He has struck out 103 batters and walked 56 for a 1.84 SO/W ratio. You can compare that to the 2.24 SO/W ratio that Joe Kelly has in 17 starts this season or the 2.23 SO/W ratio that Rodriguez has in 12 starts with the Red Sox this season.
Of course there will be butterflies in the stomach of Owens tonight, that is to be expected. There is something special about making your Major League debut, and to do it in Yankee Stadium as a member of the Boston Red Sox, there is no bigger stage. There will be the eyes and future hopes of Red Sox nation on you tonight Mr. Owens. Tonight is about the future of this pitching staff which will surely be revamped this offseason, but for one night it would be nice to be captivated by the brilliance of a future Red Sox star.