Once a top prospect in the Blue Jays organization after he was acquired from Cincinnati in the Scott Rolen trade in 2009, 25-year-old right-hander Zach Stewart wants to prove that the Red Sox didn’t just throw out Kevin Youkilis to the White Sox for a bag of balls earlier this season.
Stewart did little to change the impression about the return that Boston received in the Youkilis deal during his first start with the Red Sox on Wednesday night in Anaheim.
Replacing 26-year-old left-hander Franklin Morales, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with left shoulder fatigue, Stewart allowed nine runs and 10 hits in three innings against the Angels.
Entering Wednesday night’s start, Stewart owned a 3-8 record and a 5.92 ERA in 31 major league games with the Blue Jays and White Sox, including 12 starts. At Triple-A Pawtucket, he was 3-5 with a 3.94 ERA in 11 starts.
Until he proves otherwise, Stewart is a Four-A starter who offers rotation depth at Pawtucket. The Red Sox already have an array of relievers who would be ahead of Stewart on the depth chart if he is moved to the bullpen next season.
As for Morales, the Red Sox indicate that his DL stint is designed to give his shoulder rest and that he is not injured. The hard-throwing southpaw has logged 76.1 innings this season, which is 30 more than his previous Major League single season high (which occurred last season when he recorded 46.1 innings between the Rockies and Red Sox).
Aside from his last three starts, when he has looked tired and lasted 13.1 innings while surrendering 10 earned runs, Morales has been impressive as a reliever and in the rotation.
Morales has thrown 76? innings this season, 30 more than his previous high in a season, thanks to making nine starts. He has looked worn down in his last three starts, lasting only 13? innings and giving up 10 earned runs.
As a starter, Morales is 3-3 with a 4.14 ERA, a 1.25 WHIP and a .225 batting average against in nine starts, allowing 39 hits in 45.2 innings and striking out 47. He permitted no more than two runs in four of those nine starts, including two outings where he did not surrender a run.
Overall, Morales is 3-4 with a 3.77 ERA, a 1.23 WHIP and a .224 batting average against in 37 games and 76.1 innings. He has 76 strikeouts and has allowed 64 hits.
In 2013, Morales could be part of the rotation, or he could be used as a set-up man and a spot starter. With the probable return of Rich Hill and Craig Breslow, and the potential return of Andrew Miller, the Red Sox will have an abundance of left-handed relievers if Morales open the season in the bullpen.