BOSTON — Anthony Ranaudo can take pride in his 2014 season.
While Ranaudo experienced both highs and lows in seven starts with the Red Sox, the 25-year-old made impressive strides between the majors and Triple-A Pawtucket. Ranaudo might not crack Boston’s 2015 Opening Day starting rotation, but he’s certainly part of the overall plan.
“I think if he takes a step back and looks at the overall work this year, from April through his time in Pawtucket to now, it’s been an outstanding development year for him,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after Wednesday’s 11-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park. “He’s learned some valuable things while here (in Boston), and this should be a little bit of a springboard into the offseason.”
Ranaudo allowed two earned runs on six hits over a career-high seven innings Wednesday. He struck out two, walked one and threw 98 pitches (66 strikes). The two runs and one walk both matched career lows, but Ranaudo’s biggest accomplishment in his final start of the season was his ability to keep the ball in the yard. It was the first time in seven big league starts he didn’t surrender a home run.
“I think that’s a really good building block for me to take home into the offseason,” Ranaudo said.
Ranaudo went 14-4 with a 2.61 ERA in 24 starts with Pawtucket this season. He went 4-3 with a 4.81 ERA with Boston. There’s some question as to whether Ranaudo has the swing-and-miss capability to become an impactful major league starter — he struck out only 15 batters in 39 1/3 innings — but keeping the ball down, as he did Wednesday, could go a long way toward helping him overcome the lack of putaway stuff and the dangerous drawback of being a fly ball pitcher at Fenway Park.
“He’s got good mound presence and poise. He pitches off his fastball and establishes it. And yet I think he’s learned some valuable lessons in the time that he’s been with us,” Farrell said. “Knowing that it’s a sizable jump from the International League to here, and location within the strike zone is probably the priority to his overall execution.”
This season marked the second consecutive strong campaign for Ranaudo, who was limited to nine starts in 2012 because of injuries. He totaled 177 1/3 innings over 31 starts between the two levels, establishing himself as someone capable of handling the rigors of a major league workload.
“Coming into the year, I wanted to be one of the guys in the organization that had one of the most innings pitched,” Ranaudo said. “ … I think I put myself in a good position to be one of those guys this year, and that was one of the things I was most proud of — that I’ve been healthy the last two years and have really made some strides in my development and being able to be that guy that goes six, seven, eight innings every time he takes the ball.”
Ranaudo didn’t light the world on fire in the majors after a dominant stretch in Pawtucket. His floor appears relatively high, however, and a strong offseason could put him in a position to become a valuable commodity, albeit one that isn’t flashy.
This year represented another good stepping stone.
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