When the Red Sox began the 2017 regular season, their pitching staff alone seemed enough to propel them to the playoffs.

Southpaw flamethrower David Price, Boston’s $200 million man, narrowly avoided having elbow surgery this offseason. Rick Porcello was coming off a Cy Young campaign. Five-time All-Star Chris Sale was acquired from the White Sox via trade.

But nowadays in Boston, there’s unrest, albeit relatively minor. Price has made just three starts after getting more opinions on his injured elbow. Porcello has a measly 3-8 record with a 4.46 ERA, and Eduardo Rodriguez, the promising young lefty from Venezuela, is currently sitting on the disabled list.

Enter former Gator Brian Johnson, who spent all last year with AAA Pawtucket. On Friday, Johnson made his third start of the season with the big league club after receiving a call up following Rodriguez’s injury. Johnson was shaky, to say the least.

He threw 105 pitches in 4.1 innings against Detroit and allowed eight hits, though he surrendered just three runs, two of which came off solo shots. It was a far cry from his previous start when he tossed a complete-game shutout against Seattle on May 27, striking out eight in the process.

There have been rumors in Boston that Johnson could take Rodriguez’s spot in the rotation, depending on manager John Farrell’s decision.

Tebow Watch

Tim Tebow has had a rough go of it in the minors this year.

The Columbia Fireflies left fielder is batting .225 with just three home runs on the season after hitting two in his first three games. He also has three times as many strikeouts as he does walks.

With that being said, it’s understandable that he’s trying to adjust to the speed of the game. Tebow knocked in two RBIs in his last game with a timely single and has managed to get on base in seven of his past eight contests.

Minor-League Roundup

For Nolan Fontana, it’s been a tale of two leagues. In the seven games he’s been called up to play shortstop for the Los Angeles Angels, Fontana has a .056 batting average, with just one hit and one walk in 18 at-bats.

For the AAA-affiliate Salt Lake Bees, however, Fontana has been having a career year. The 26-year-old is batting .273 with six homers and 27 RBIs through 47 games.

Left fielder Preston Tucker is having a subpar year with Houston’s AAA-affiliate, the Fresno Grizzlies. Tucker is batting .262, about 20 points below his career average. He split time last year between the minors and Astros, though his .164 average with Houston in 2016 may be why he’s been relegated to AAA-ball this season.

In 10 starts with single-A Stockton, lefty A.J. Puk has gone 4-4 with a 3.98 ERA. He’s only given up one home run all year, though in his last two outings, has allowed eight runs. Nonetheless, the Iowa native has allowed just a .194 batting average against him.

Pitching alongside Puk, Logan Shore has had similar results. Sporting a 3.12 ERA, Shore hasn’t gone more than five innings in an outing this season. He last pitched on May 14, a game in which he gave up eight hits including his second home run allowed this season.

Contact Morgan McMullen at mmcmullen@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @MorganMcMuffin.

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