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July 30, 2013

Talented Doubront must become more durable for Sox

BOSTON — Here at Fenway Park last night we saw one lefty (reigning AL Cy Young winner David Price) who is great and another southpaw (Felix Doubront) who has the potential to be great but isn’t quite there yet and might never get there.

Price earned his second win over Boston in five nights. He went 7.1 innings and allowed just one run on two hits and no walks while striking out eight. The Rays won 2-1 over Boston to take a half game lead in the AL East standings.

For Doubront to be great, he needs to be more consistent. Sure, he has been consistent by some standards. He has allowed three or fewer earned runs in 18 of his 19 starts, including each of his past 14 starts since May 16, the longest such single-season streak by a Red Sox left-hander since 1920 and the longest single-season streak by any Boston hurler since Pedro Martinez’s 14 in a row in 2002.

But consistency for Doubront doesn’t only mean limiting teams to three or fewer runs over a 19-start stretch, which certainly shows he has been keeping his team in every game. It also means pitching deep into games regularly and staying competitive and durable for an entire season.

The 25-year-old lefty didn’t go deep into yesterday’s game, pitching just 5.0 innings. And whether Doubront can continue to pitch well during the final two months is questionable. After all, he had a combined 6.04 ERA while showing fatigue the final two months last year.

Tigers ace Justin Verlander is the definition of consistency. At one point, he had a streak of 63 straight starts of 6.0 or more innings pitched. Even when Verlander has struggled during certain stretches, he still battles deep into games more times than not. And he always does it for a full season. Verlander has pitched 200 or more innings each of the past six innings.

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