Owens will make his first start for Double-A Portland on Monday, Mark Chiarelli of MassLive.com reports. Owens was demoted from Triple-A Pawtucket after he walked 60 batters in 69 innings, continuing an alarming trend of increased walk rates over the last three seasons. At Portland, the coaching staff has significantly re-worked his pitching mechanics, ditching the over-the-top release in favor of a three-quarters arm slot. He's thrown off a mound once since the change and will put it to a test Monday.
Owens was demoted to Double-A Portland on Monday, Evan Drellich of CSN New England reports. In what has become a common theme throughout his career with the Red Sox, Owens is battling command issues this season en route to a 72:60 K:BB ratio and 1.70 WHIP. The 24-year-old will move down one tier to work out the problems, though the move is incredibly discouraging as to his chances for a return to the majors this season and likely puts him on a short leash in terms of staying in the starting rotation. Owens will need to show dramatic improvement from his recent minor-league starts, as he's walked 46 batters over his last 45 innings.
Owens allowed one run (unearned) on two hits and four walks while striking out 10 over six innings for Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal reports. Owens reworked his delivery late in spring training and has been effective ever since. The left-hander still has some control issues, but more of his pitches are around the zone, where his stuff will play. Through two starts, Owens has a 0.82 ERA. He appears to be owning this new delivery, and the initial promising results have led to a more confident pitcher.
Owens walked just three batters over 12 innings in his final two spring outings, Alex Speier of The Boston Globe reports. The lanky left-hander reconfigured his windup to more closely approximate his delivery from the stretch and the results were encouraging. Owens' fastball sat at 90-92 mph -- up from the high-80s velocity he showed in 2016 -- and he elicited a number of swings-and-misses with his changeup. An Owens who can repeat his delivery, find a consistent release point and is more in command of his fastball would solve a lot of Boston's rotation depth concerns.
Owens is simplifying his delivery to one that starts with a smaller step, Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe reports. The change in Owens' delivery is intended to improve his command and reduce the walks. The shorter step will hopefully lead to a more direct path to the plate and a consistent release point while eliminating all the movement. Manager John Farrell remains committed to fixing Owens, who the manager still feels can be a depth starter for Boston.
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