By Michael Green
The subject of today’s player profile is 5th starter/Alfredo Aceves-esque swingman Felix Doubont. A young lefty with gobs of potential, is this the year that Doubront finally puts it all together at the big league level? Read on to see what we think!
The Backstory: Signed as a 16 year old projectable lefty out of Venezuela back in 2004, Doubront has matured before the organization’s eyes. Now 24, Doubront is looking to make his mark on the team. Out of minor league options it is make or break time for him. If he fails to make the 25 man roster he could be used as trade bait, thankfully for the Red Sox it appears Doubront is making sure that won’t happen.
Last Season Review: 2011 was a nightmare for Doubront. After a very successful 2010 season Doubront showed up to camp out of shape with seemingly little motivation. The results were not much better. He battled through injuries and ineffectiveness all season while seemingly losing the trust of the coaching staff. He looked like a completely different pitcher than the young starter who flashed so much promise the year before. Many assumed he would either find a full-time job in the Red Sox bullpen or help them with starting rotation depth in 2011.
Yet, when push came to shove, he provided neither. Doubront was only able to pitch 87 innings total on the year and 10 of those came in the majors. Without his usual confidence, he found himself afraid to attack hitters and his walk rate skyrocketed to 6.97 BB/9, resulting in a 6.10 ERA (5.44 FIP, 5.28xFIP). Admittedly it was a small sample size but his minor league numbers also produced a 4.21 ERA (4.51 FIP) and a slightly reduced strikeout rate. Overall, it was a year that everyone would like to forget.
Looking Ahead: Heading into 2012 it looks as though Doubront has his head on straight. All reports out of Fort Myers point towards him being in excellent shape and showing the quality of work he possessed just a year ago. Working with new pitching coach Bob McClure has helped fix some mechanical issues, mainly dealing with footwork, and helped bring back the confidence Doubront was known for. In his first outing of the spring against Boston College, Doubront went 2 innings allowing 1 hit, no walks or runs and striking out 1 batter. His command and mechanics looked a lot better than last year, a good sign for Doubront.
Without putting too much stock into wins and losses as Doubront could end up swinging between the rotation and bullpen, we’ve compiled 3 different projections for the upcoming season. ZiPS seems to tag Doubront as a starter, albeit not an effective one. 93 innings seems a little low for a guy who has thrown over 100 innnings in 3 of the last 4 seasons. ZiPS also seems to be the most critical of Doubront, posting the highest ERA, WHIP, and BB/9 with the lowest K/9 ratio. Steamer projects a little better for Doubront, although they only have him responsible for 32 innings this season, meaning their system expects him to play a majority of the season in the minors or undergo some type of injury. We here at Bloodysox like the spring reports that the Doubront of old is back, and have given him some positive projections for the season. A low 4 ERA isn’t unreasonable, and he posted higher than 7 K/9 in almost every stop along the way thus far, so it’s not a stretch to see him hit that mark this year.
Conclusion: All in all, we expect to see Felix in the majors this season, and whether he’s in the rotation or the bullpen, we expect him to have a mostly positive impact on the 2012 season.