Brian Johnson still doesn’t know exactly when he’ll make his major league debut, but a time frame finally is in sight.
The Boston Red Sox’s top prospect will take the mound either Monday against the Los Angeles Angels in the finale of a four-game set or Tuesday in Houston against the Astros, Sox manager John Farrell told reporters Thursday at an optional team workout in Los Angeles.
Johnson owns a 2.73 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 85 2/3 innings for Pawtucket. He was called up to the big leagues last week in the wake of Clay Buchholz’s injury, but did not make an appearance in two games against the New York Yankees.
It might make more sense for Johnson to start Tuesday against Houston, for two reasons: the Astros’ propensity to strike out, and the number of right-handed batters in the Angels’ lineup.
The left-hander averages nearly a strikeout per inning, and the Astros have struck out 838 times this season — more than any team in the majors. Plus, Los Angeles regularly features just two left-handed batters in its lineup. Houston is no cakewalk, but any advantage the Red Sox can give Johnson in his debut can’t hurt.
Let’s take a look at a few other Red Sox notes.
— John Farrell partially announced the team’s pitching rotation coming out of the break.
Wade Miley, who pitched the series finale against the Yankees on Sunday, will take the ball Friday night against the Angels to kick off the second half. Rick Porcello will start Saturday and Eduardo Rodriguez gets the nod Sunday. Johnson will pitch one of the following two days, but Farrell hasn’t committed to when yet.
Miley will be working on his normal four days of rest, but every other pitcher on the staff is more rested. Rodriguez made the most sense on paper, but the team is looking for ways to cut down on Rodriguez’s innings counter. Moving him back a few days logistically helps that process.
— Justin Masterson is not a candidate to start the fifth open slot. He’ll remain in the bullpen.
Farrell didn’t name anyone else in particular to start, but did say the team was considering internal options. Steven Wright or Joe Kelly would make the most sense. Kelly is scheduled to pitch Friday for Triple-A Pawtucket.
— Farrell thinks Dustin Pedroia could be back Friday, but wouldn’t guarantee it.
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— Mike Napoli will play first base Friday. All-Star Brock Holt will lose a permanent position once again when Pedroia returns.
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The underlying implication seems to be that Napoli will be used in a platoon versus left-handed pitching to start, but we’ll see.
— David Ortiz was really sick, guys. OK?
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He isn’t the solution at first, either.
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— Outfielder/first baseman Daniel Nava, rehabbing a thumb injury, blasted a three-run home run in Triple-A Pawtucket’s 9-7 loss Thursday.
— Reliever Ronald Belisario, acquired by Boston last week, will start his Red Sox tenure in the minors.
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Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@CSNNE