"I'm going to say between 10 and 14 innings would be an area where we'd [like to stop at]," said interim manager Torey Lovullo. "After that, we'd feel a little uncomfortable. It's probably going to be a couple more outings, and the one thing that we've talked about is when he comes off, when he leaves that night after his start, he knows when his next start is so he can develop that routine to get ready for his next start."
The Red Sox are highly pleased with the way Rodriguez has performed in going 9-6 with a 3.94 ERA. Of late, he has pitched his most consistent baseball of the season. The club has no reason to believe Rodriguez can't develop into a front-line starter.
And that's all the more reason the Red Sox want to be sure to protect the lefty over the final two weeks of the season.
"People that are a lot smarter than I am have looked at that and understand it and know the value of it, limiting those moments," Lovullo said. "I know it has been added up and it has all been considered. We know long innings are very taxing. We know the up-and-down moments are very taxing. The total pitches thrown are very taxing as well. His body is doing fine -- his shoulder, his mind, everything is doing fine. Adding all those components together, we felt like a couple more starts would be his limit."
Henry Owens, the team's other young lefty, will probably make three more starts. Owens is coming off his best start, as he fired 7 2/3 shutout innings against the Orioles on Wednesday and didn't walk anyone.
"With Henry, the thing that's impressed me the most is his mound presence, a guy that has stepped up in the biggest venues against some of the best pitchers in the American League and hasn't backed down," said Lovullo. "He has continued to make pitches. He has made adjustments. He has won games. He's learning on the job, which is the most important thing at this point in time."
Third baseman Pablo Sandoval has been battling an illness this weekend that has prevented him from starting the first two games of this three-game series against the Blue Jays.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.