Monday, November 7, 2016

Unknown Heroes Pt. 43: Felix Doubront

Boston has historically had a very difficult time developing pitchers, in particular left-handed pitchers.  Since the time that I started watching the team, Boston's minor league system has only produced three southpaws that spent a significant amount of time in the Major Leagues.  Jon Lester of course has been a very impressive pitcher and Casey Fossum had his moments.  The third of these was Felix Doubront who, for a couple of years, was a big part of the pitching staff.
Doubront was originally signed as an undrafted free agent out of Venezuela in 2005.  He was just 17 at the time, so he spent some considerable time in the minor leagues before making his Major League debut with the Red Sox in 2010.  He won his Major League debut on June 18, 2010, starting the game and going five innings against the Dodgers.  Ultimately, Doubront did not spend a lot of time in the Majors in either 2010 or 2011 and he bounced between Boston and Pawtucket several times during both seasons.  
It was 2012 when Doubront emerged for good in Boston.  Due to injuries and inconsistency in most of the rest of the starting rotation, he was able to stick around.  He tied for second on the team in games started but was third in innings pitched, mostly due to high pitch counts taking him out of the game early.  He tended to walk a lot of hitters, but also struck out a lot of hitters.  In fact, Doubront led the team, racking up 167 strikeouts in 161 innings.  He also tied for the team lead in wins, going 11-10 with a 4.86 ERA.  Doubront started and won the only game I attended in 2012, on May 7 in Kansas City, though it was not one of his better games that season.
Doubront was expected to build on his success in 2013, and to a degree, he did.  He was better overall in 2013 but his strikeout numbers decreased and he started two fewer games, though he did appear in relief twice.  He was able to cut down on home runs hit against him, but still walked too many batters.  He finished the season at 11-6 with a 4.32 ERA in 162.1 innings.  He struck out 139, but walked 71 for the second year in a row.
The Red Sox won the World Championship in 2013 and, while Doubront was not a starter, he did appear in four games in the postseason.  He did not make an appearance in the ALDS against the Rays but then showed up in two games in the ALCS against Detroit.  In Game 2, he pitched 1.1 innings keeping the Tigers from scoring and ultimately setting up a win for the team.  He was on the mound when David Ortiz tied the game with a grand slam off Joaquin Benoit.  Uehara replaced him and recorded the win.  Doubront also finished the Game 4 loss with a scoreless inning of relief.
In the World Series in 2013, Doubront pitched 4.2 innings in two games.  He pitched two innings of scoreless relief in Game 3, though Boston ended up losing that game on the interference call on Will Middlebrooks in the ninth inning.  He came back the next day to pitch 2.2 innings, giving up just one ultimately meaningless run while striking out three.  He was credited with the win in relief.  He finished the postseason with a 1-0 record, 1.93 ERA, and four strikeouts.
Unfortunately, conditioning was a problem for Doubront throughout his career.  He struggled greatly in 2014.  He was 2-4 with a 6.07 ERA in 17 games with the Red Sox when he was traded to the Cubs for a player to be named later, who turned out to be Marco Hernandez.  He struck out 43 and walked 26.  He pitched in just four games for the Cubs and then pitched for the Blue Jays and Athletics in 2015.  He did not appear in the Majors in 2016 but remained the Athletics system.  He was outrighted in October and is now a free agent.  Who knows, maybe Boston could seek out a reunion.  They need a left-hander in the bullpen and he could be a low-risk, high-reward signing.  He certainly performed well out of the bullpen in the 2013 postseason.
Doubront's career has taken a downward turn after a highly successful 2013 postseason.  He never really played enough with his other three teams to appear on a card with any of them.  All of his Major League cards are with the Red Sox.  He was once one of my favorite players and was the subject of a sort of mini player collection.  He never really rose to stardom but I really enjoyed watching him.


  1. Felix actually does have one card in a Cubs uniform; but, you have to go waaayyyy off the beaten path to find it:

  2. Ah yes, I should have known Venezuela would chime in.

  3. He really was a key guy out of the pen in that W.S.