Red Sox’ Brandon Workman Named American League Reliever of the Month for September

Red Sox right-hander Brandon Workman was named American League Reliever of the Month for the month of September on Monday afternoon.

The 31-year-old wrapped up a stellar season by posting a 0.00 ERA and .326 OPS against over his final 12 appearances and 11 1/3 innings pitched of the year.

On the 2019 campaign as a whole, Workman really did break out in a tremendous way, posting an ERA of 1.88, xFIP of 3.33, batting average against of .123, and fWAR of 2.1 over a career-high 73 outings and 71 2/3 total innings of relief.

From not even being on the World Series roster less than 12 full months ago to becoming one of, if not the most reliable reliever out of the Sox’ bullpen. 2019 was quite the year for Brandon Workman, and he will likely be rewarded with a sizable raise in his final season of arbitration because of it.

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Red Sox’ Darwinzon Hernandez Will Remain a Reliever in 2020, per Alex Cora

Red Sox left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez will retain his role a reliever next season, his manager Alex Cora announced earlier Friday.

Hernandez, who turns 23 in December, entered 2019 as Boston’s top left-handed pitching prospect and was viewed as a potential rotation option after making his his big league debut as the 26th man in a day-night doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers back on April 23rd.

In his first and only major league start, which came against the Texas Rangers on June 11th, the Venezuela native surrendered four runs on three hits, five walks, and seven strikeouts over three innings pitched.

He was optioned back down to Double-A Portland following that start before being promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket on June 15th.

Eventually working out of the bullpen while with the PawSox, Hernandez earned another call up to Boston on July 16th and really has not looked back since, posting a 4.32 ERA, 3.34 xFIP, .215 batting average against, and 39.3 K% over his last 27 appearances and 25 innings pitched.

Come next February, Hernandez figures to compete for a high-leverage, late-inning role in the Red Sox bullpen.

 

Red Sox Activate Heath Hembree From Injured List

Before taking on the Tampa Bay Rays for the final time this season, the Red Sox announced that right-hander Heath Hembree has been activated from the 10-day injured list. The club made the move official earlier Monday.

Hembree had been sidelined since August 2nd, missing nearly eight weeks of action due to right elbow lateral inflammation and even receiving a plasma-rich-platelet injection for that inflammation last month.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora had been discussing over the past few days about how Hembree wanted to pitch again before seasons end, and after throwing a simulated game at Tropicana Field last week, the 30-year-old hurler is good to go for one more appearance, which could come as Boston’s opener in their series finale against the Texas Rangers on Thursday, per MassLive.com‘s Chris Cotillo.

Through 43 relief appearances this season, Hembree has posted a 4.06 ERA and .233 batting average over 37 2/3 total innings pitched. Those numbers inflated a bit when the South Carolina native returned from his first stint on the IL due to an extensor strain in his right elbow on July 4th, as he surrendered nine runs over 12 appearances and nine innings of work before hitting the injured list once again in early August.

Hembree has two more years of arbitration remaining before becoming a free agent for the first time at the conclusion of the 2021 season. He figures to be in the Sox’ bullpen plans for next year.

Josh Taylor to Make First Career Start for Red Sox in Second Game Against Angels

Red Sox left-hander Josh Taylor will be making the first start of his major league career on Saturday night, as he gets the ball for Boston in the second of three against the Los Angeles Angels.

Named the starter earlier Saturday, Taylor will serve as the “opener” in what will be a bullpen day for the Sox as they go for the series win over the Halos.

Through 40 relief appearances this season, the 26-year-old rookie has posted a 3.15 ERA and .235 batting average against over exactly 40 innings pitched since making his big league debut against the Cleveland Indians on May 29th.

Taylor did allow two runs in the fifth inning of Friday’s 7-6 15-inning win over Los Angeles to snap a stretch of 12 straight scoreless outings.

Over the course of that impressive run, Taylor did do something somewhat similar to starting a game, when in the continuation of that August 7th contest against the Kansas City Royals on the 22nd, the Arizona native picked up where he left off and tossed a 1-2-3 top half of the 10th to earn the first winning decision of his young career.

Here is how the rest of the Red Sox will lineup behind Taylor on Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for 9:07 PM EDT on NESN.

Red Sox Place Chris Sale on Injured List Due to Left Elbow Inflammation

In case you missed it, the Red Sox announced that left-hander Chris Sale had been placed on the 10-day injured list due to left elbow inflammation prior to Saturday’s win over the Baltimore Orioles.

In a corresponding move, right-hander Ryan Brasier was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket. The club made the transaction official earlier on Saturday.

Sale allowed five runs, three of which were earned, on five hits, two walks, and 12 strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings in his last time out against the Cleveland Indians this past Tuesday.

According to Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, the 30-year-old felt stiffness in his left elbow in the two days following his last start and informed the team’s training staff of it on Friday, which ultimately led to an MRI on Saturday.

“We’re not taking any chances and putting him on the injured list,” Dombrowski said when speaking with reporters Saturday. “There’s going to be further evaluation. Our doctors looked at the MRI. We’ll have other doctors look at the MRI. We’re in a situation where I don’t really know where it’s going to take us at this point. People will further read the MRIs, and then they’ll make their diagnosis.”

One of those other opinions will come from Dr. James Andrews, who will more than likely meet with Sale as well.

Sale himself was not made available to the media on Saturday. As Dombrowski put it, “Chris, I think, needs a couple of days to himself at this point.”

Obviously, there’s no timetable for when Sale could possibly make any kind of return. In fact, when asked about whether or not the Florida native will pitch again in 2019, all Dombrowski could say was, “I don’t know one way or another at this point.”

Sale was scheduled to start against the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday. A replacement has yet to be named by Sox manager Alex Cora, who said that, “Somebody has to step up. That’s how it works in this business,” following Saturday’s win over the Orioles.

On the other side of this move, Ryan Brasier was recalled from Pawtucket one month after a somewhat-surprising demotion.

In that time with the PawSox, the 31-year-old posted a 0.96 ERA and .182 batting average against over 10 relief appearances and 9 1/3 innings pitched.

On the 2019 campaign as a whole, Brasier owns an ERA of 4.46 and batting average against of .242 in 44 appearances and 40 1/3 innings of work with Boston. He did not pitch Saturday.

Stay tuned for something on here if Sale speaks with the media in the next few days.

Red Sox Place Heath Hembree on Injured List, Recall Josh Smith from Triple-A Pawtucket

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.

No, the Red Sox Should Not Fire Dave Dombrowski

In case you missed it, the Red Sox stood pat at Wednesday’s trading deadline, meaning no new reinforcements from the outside will be added to Boston’s 25-man roster.

Given the club’s inconsistent play as of late, especially out of the bullpen, that news, or lack of news, upset a great deal of Red Sox fans.

That being the case because as of right now, the Sox are on the outside looking in in the American League playoff picture, as they sit 10 games behind the New York Yankees for first place in the American League East and 2 1/2 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the second American League wild card spot.

So, with that information, one had to figure that president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski would make a move to solidify his bullpen or something to that effect.

But, as already mentioned, the deadline came and went and nothing came of it.

“Realistically, we’re probably playing first for a wild card spot,” Dombrowski said in a press conference Wednesday. “We’re playing for a one-game wild card. You look at that a little bit differently as far as what you’re willing to do and the risks you’re willing to take.”

If the Red Sox were closer to first place in the division though, Dombrowski’s approach to the deadline may have been different, saying that, “I think if we were closer to first place, I would have been more open-minded to some of the other things.”

Part of the reason why Boston is not closer to first place does fall on Dombrowski. He had an adequate amount of time to find replacements for both Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel over the offseason, and acquiring Colten Brewer from the San Diego Padres was the only move made.

Through 109 games this season, the Red Sox bullpen ranks seventh in the American League in ERA (4.54), seventh in innings pitched (414 1/3), sixth in batting average against (.243), 10th in WHIP (1.40), and second in blown saves (19).

It hasn’t all fell on them this year, but it is clear that the group of relievers the Red Sox have compiled does not stack up well against what clubs such as the Yankees or Houston Astros have put together.

Building a competent bullpen has always been thought of as one of Dombrowski’s weaknesses as an executive, even going back to his Detroit Tigers days.

The way money was allocated over the winter may play into Boston’s bullpen struggles as well, as more than $23 million was committed to Nathan Eovaldi and Steve Pearce alone for this season, eventually leading to Dombrowski having very little room to work with in trying to stay under the luxury tax threshold.

All and all, 2019 has not been a banner year for the reigning World Series champions. But, they are the defending World Series champions for a reason.

Yes, Dombrowski aided the Red Sox in notching their fourth World Series title since the turn of the century with the moves he made last July and even before that.

Nathan Eovaldi, J.D. Martinez, Steve Pearce, David Price, and Chris Sale were all either signed or acquired under Dombrowski’s watch since taking over as president of baseball operations in 2015. Each of those five players played a key role during that World Series run.

Since Dombrowski’s first full season as president of baseball operations in 2016, the Red Sox have won three straight division titles for the first time in franchise history and capped that stretch off with a historic 2018 campaign.

So, I get that if the season ended on Thursday, the Red Sox would be out of the postseason. I get that that is not a good look given how this team’s competitive window should still be open. But, what I can not understand is the rationale behind wanting to fire Dombrowski.

The architect behind the 2018 team? Red Sox fans want to him run him out of town? Less than a year after winning the World Series? That is something I simply can’t get behind.