Red Sox groom RHP Michael Bowden for relief role

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With little relief available on the trade market at the moment, the Red Sox have decided to look within the organization for setup help. Long-time pitching prospect Michael Bowden was shifted from the rotation to the pen this week, with an eye towards a promotion to the majors after the All-Star break.
It certainly wasn’t a demotion for Bowden. His overall line for Triple-A Pawtucket isn’t particularly impressive — he’s 4-3 with a 3.77 ERA and a 59/29 K/BB ratio in 86 innings — but he had allowed just four runs over 28 innings in his last four starts.
Bowden’s upside, though, has always been questioned, even during the times in which he’s dominated in the minors. As a flyball pitcher with a modest strikeout rate, his margin for error is pretty small. His low-90s fastball, slider and changeup are all legitimate major league pitches, but he lacks a standout offering. That could change if a move to the pen results in an increase in velocity.
The Red Sox will probably have Bowden make 8-10 relief appearances for Pawtucket this month before deciding whether he’s ready to help the big-league club. If he impresses, it could allow the team to focus elsewhere when the trade deadline comes.

Giants tab Madison Bumgarner to start Opening Day

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Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area reports that the Giants, to the shock of absolutely no one, have tabbed Madison Bumgarner to start on Opening Day, March 29 in Los Angeles against the Dodgers. He’ll pitch opposite Clayton Kershaw.

This will be the fifth consecutive season in which Bumgarner has started on Opening Day for the Giants. His five total Opening Day starts is still way behind the club record held by Juan Marichal, who started 10 Opening Days, including six consecutively from 1964-69.

Bumgarner, 28, missed nearly two months in the first half last season due to a dirt bike accident. He still managed to have a great season, compiling a 3.32 ERA with a 101/20 K/BB ratio in 111 innings.