Before kicking off a four-game weekend series with the first place New York Yankees on Friday, the Red Sox announced that right-hander Heath Hembree had been placed on the 10-day injured list due to right lateral elbow inflammation. I
n a corresponding move, right-hander Josh Smith was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket to take Hembree’s spot on the 25-man roster. The club made the transaction official earlier Friday.
Hembree had struggled since his return from the IL back on July 4th, posting a 9.00 ERA and .350 batting average against over his last 12 appearances and nine innings pitched.
Compare that to the 0.60 ERA and .118 batting average against Hembree owned from the beginning of May up until June 10th, and it becomes quite clear that the 30-year-old was still dealing with some elbow issues.
That much is evident in how the velocity of Hembree’s four-seam fastball has dipped over recent weeks. Per Statcast, the South Carolina native averaged 94.5 MPH on his heater in five June appearances. That average velocity shrunk down to 92.5 MPH in July.
In that initial injured list stint, Hembree was shelved for a little more than three weeks with what the Red Sox described as a ‘right elbow extensor strain.’
On the other side of this move, Josh Smith was recalled from the PawSox for the fifth time this season.
Since he was last optioned to Triple-A on June 25th, the 31-year-old allowed 15 earned runs on 32 hits and eight walks over a span of five starts and 27 1/3 innings pitched. That’s good for an ERA of 4.94.
While with Boston this season, Smith owns an ERA of 5.40 and xFIP of 4.54 over 10 appearances, two of which have been starts, and 18 1/3 innings pitched, per FanGraphs. He is also 1-for-1 in save opportunities.
In other roster-related news, left-hander Brian Johnson is expected to re-join the Sox in New York on Saturday and get the start in either the first or second game of the double-header that day.
Because he is out of options, I can’t imagine Johnson can be Boston’s 26th man, so another roster move will probably have to be made in order to make room for the 28-year-old.
First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:05 PM EDT on NESN.