In Madison Bumgarner’s rookie season in 2010, he lost his first start, allowing four runs to the Boston Red Sox. In his 12th start, Bumgarner did not get out of the third inning, allowing seven earned runs.

In Clayton Kershaw’s ninth start during his rookie year, he allowed 10 hits, three walks and five runs in three innings.

Jon Lester had trouble going deep into his starts when he first reached Fenway Park, averaging almost four walks a game.

We bring all this up because of Henry Owens’ latest start, a forgettable 1 2/3-inning, seven-run performance against the New York Yankees on Wednesday.

Before that, Owens was 2-1 in his first five starts with a 4.03 ERA. In three of his outings, he gave up only one earned run.

Owens, who turned 23 in July, gives the Red Sox pitching depth entering the 2016 season and potential for beyond.

“I just want to perform and not miss my opportunity here,” Owens said before his Yankees start at Fenway.

Unless he’s traded.

When new team president Dave Dombrowski – a wheeler-dealer – took over last month, speculation grew that he would send off a slew of prospects to turn the Red Sox around.

Who knows how Dombrowski will change things? As interim manager Torey Lovullo has said, “Everyone is being evaluated.”

Owens can’t worry about what Dombrowski is jotting down on his legal pad.

“I’m not too focused on the evaluation process. I don’t know who is; everyone knows in the back of their minds what’s going on,” Owens said. “I can’t think about too much except executing my pitches.”

Owens’ success comes when he mixes up his pitches. Owens features a less-than-overwhelming fastball at 90 mph, peaking at around 93.

But the fastball is a set-up pitch – getting swings-and-misses only 6 percent of the time, according to fangraphs.com. It’s with his change-up (21 percent misses), curve (11 percent) and developing slider (22 percent) that Owens dominates.

There’s a reason he has 29 strikeouts in 30 2/3 innings. When he’s wild (13 walks) or his stuff comes in flat, Owens runs into trouble.

Sounds like he’s developing … like some previous young pitchers already mentioned.

Red Sox followers may have soured on Owens because he began slowly in Pawtucket while other lefties moved up.

Eduardo Rodriguez has cemented himself into the rotation while terms like “future ace” get tossed around. Rodriguez is 8-5 with a 4.25 ERA. He’s been sharp, but he’s also had his clunkers.

The next lefty to get promoted was Brian Johnson. But he made only one start and has since been shut down with a sore elbow – either a sign of extra caution or something serious.

Meanwhile, Owens waited.

“I wasn’t pitching as well as I could at the start of the season,” he said. “I just knew I had to get my stuff right. Had to be patient.”

So now Owens is in the majors, getting needed experience.

Next year the Boston rotation figures to include Clay Buchholz, Rick Porcello, a to-be-announced Dombrowski signing, Rodriguez, and Wade Miley or Joe Kelly (Miley could be dealt or Kelly go to the bullpen).

That leaves Owens in Pawtucket as insurance (possibly with Steven Wright and Johnson).

The insurance Owens provides is nice, but it’s the promise of what Owens might deliver that’s exciting – and reason enough that Boston should hold on to him.

 


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