Red Sox’ Nathan Eovaldi Strikes out Side in Scoreless Second Inning in Rehab Outing with Triple-A Pawtucket

After being sent out on a rehab assignment earlier in the day, Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi twirled a scoreless second inning for Triple-A Pawtucket in their game against the Louisville Bats, the Triple-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, on Tuesday morning.

Seeing his first real in-game action since April 17th, the 29-year-old needed 19 pitches, 11 of which were strikes, to punch out the side on Tuesday. He also yielded a one-out walk and allowed that runner to advance to third on a passed ball and balk in consecutive order, but was able to strand said runner.

According to the PawSox’ Mike Monaco, Eovaldi topped out at 98 MPH with his four-seam fastball and 94 MPH with his cutter. Monaco also notes that Eovaldi got a pair of strikeouts looking on his curveball, a pitch he threw two times.

Placed on the 10-day injured list on April 20th and transferred to the 60-day IL on June 25th, Eovaldi underwent successful arthroscopic surgery to remove loose bodies in his right elbow back in April.

The initial plan was for Eovaldi to rejoin the Red Sox rotation once healthy, but that changed earlier this month when manager Alex Cora announced that the righty would move to the bullpen.

Since Thursday appeared to go well for Eovaldi, the likeliest outcome is that he will be activated off the injured list sometime this weekend while the Sox are in Baltimore.

In eight career regular season appearances as a reliever, the Texas native is 1-0 with a 3.21 ERA and .188 batting average against over 14 total innings pitched.

This past Saturday, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski likened Eovaldi’s return to a trade deadline acquisition, saying that, “We are going to add Nathan Eovaldi. For some reason, people seem to, not, like, grasp on to that. He’s a big addition for us coming and we feel he’ll be ready to go within about a week to join us on a full-time basis out there.” 

Given where he is at, it will be interesting to see whether or not Cora uses Eovaldi in high-leverage situations out of the ‘pen immediately, or instead opts to ease his pitcher back into things.

Advertisements

Red Sox Recall Top Pitching Prospect Darwinzon Hernandez from Triple-A Pawtucket, Option Ryan Brasier in Corresponding Move

Before taking on the Toronto Blue Jays in the second of a four-game series Tuesday night, the Red Sox announced that left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez had been recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket. In a corresponding move, right-hander Ryan Brasier was optioned to Triple-A. The club made the transaction official earlier Tuesday.

Hernandez, 22, is now up with Boston for the fourth time this season after being promoted to the PawSox on June 15th.

Ranked as the Sox’ top pitching prospect, the Venezuela native has posted a 4.76 ERA and .175 batting average against to go along with 20 strikeouts and 16 walks over seven International League appearances (three starts) and 17 total innings pitched.

Since being moved to Pawtucket’s bullpen at the beginning of the month, Hernandez has allowed just one earned run on one hit, one HBP, one walk, and six punchouts over four relief outings.

In two separate appearances with the Red Sox so far in 2019, one coming as a reliever and the other as a starter, the 2013 international signee owns an ERA of 5.06 and xFIP of 4.68 over a small 5-1/3 inning sample size.

Over those 5 1/3 frames of work, Hernandez has faced 22 right-handed batters and eight left-handed batters. The rightys are slashing .375/.545/.500 off him, while the leftys are just 1-for-8 with one double.

Hernandez’s stuff certainly plays, it’s always been about his control, or lack thereof, that has raised some concern.

But, with the move to the bullpen for the time being, it appears as though Alex Cora and the Red Sox have another southpaw to turn to alongside Josh Taylor.

On the other side of this move, Ryan Brasier was demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket following a night in which he yielded four runs on four hits in the eighth inning of 10-8 win for Boston. He had pitched in the final two games against the Los Angeles Dodgers before that.

After really coming out of nowhere last year, Brasier has fallen back to Earth in 2019, posting a 4.24 ERA and .242 batting average against over 44 appearances and 40 1/3 innings of work.

As Red Sox Stats surmises though, this could just be a way to get the 31-year-old off his feet for a bit.

Still, looking back to this past offseason, where Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said that either one of Brasier, Matt Barnes, Tyler Thornburg, or Steven Wright could become the team’s closer with the departure of Craig Kimbrel, it’s clear that that certain strategy didn’t quite pan out.

Brasier was optioned on Tuesday, Barnes has blown six saves so far this season, Thornburg was released last week, and Wright was placed on the injured list this past Saturday.

Now, we turn to Nathan Eovaldi, who signed a four-year, $68 million deal with the Red Sox to be a starting pitcher, as the next option out of the ‘pen.

They got away with it since they won the World Series, but the lack of preparation that went into this Red Sox season, specifically with the makeup of the bullpen, should have been criticized more, because it’s the main talking point with this team at this point in the year.

Red Sox Acquire Right-Hander Andrew Cashner in Trade with Orioles

Before taking on the Los Angeles Dodgers in the second of a three-game weekend series on Saturday night, the Red Sox acquired right-handed pitcher Andrew Cashner in a three-player trade with the Baltimore Orioles. The club made the transaction official earlier Saturday.

Cashner, 32, had started 17 games for Baltimore this season, where he posted a 3.83 ERA and .234 batting average against over 96 1/3 total innings pitched.

With a contract that runs through 2019 and has a team option attached for 2020, Cashner appears to be the man to take over the fifth spot in the Red Sox’ starting rotation.

Originally signing a two-year, $16 million deal with the Orioles in February of 2018, the Texas native had a rough first go around in his first full season with Baltimore, posting an ERA of exactly 5.00 in 28 outings, but has rebounded nicely so far this year. That much is evident by his 1.41 ERA and .168 batting average against in five starts since the beginning of June.

When all the dust is settled, expect Sox manager Alex Cora’s rotation to look something like this:

Chris Sale
David Price
Rick Porcello
Andrew Cashner
Eduardo Rodriguez

In his career at Fenway Park, Cashner is 1-1 with an ERA of 7.20 over a small sample size of two starts and just 10 innings pitched.

On the other side of this trade, Boston sent two minor leaguers in the form of 17-year-old infielder Noelberth Romero and 17-year-old outfielder Elio Prado. Both signed as international free agents out Venezuela during last year’s signing period and both were assigned to the Red Sox’ Dominican Summer League team.

Per president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, Cashner’s first start in a Red Sox uniform will come on Tuesday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Red Sox Release Tyler Thornburg After Reliever Refused Minor League Assignment

The Red Sox have released right-handed reliever Tyler Thornburg, per the club’s official Twitter account.

Thornburg, 30, was returned from his month-long rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on Monday without being activated from the 10-day injured list with a right hip impingement, meaning the Sox had two days to decide whether to add the righty back to the active roster, designate him for assignment, or outright him.

On Tuesday, WEEI’s Rob Bradford reported that Thornburg would not accept a minor league assignment, so this outcome seemed the most likely before it even occurred.

Acquired by Boston from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for infielder Travis Shaw and minor leaguers, Yeison Coca, Maurico Dubon, and Josh Pennington in December of 2016, Thornburg’s tenure with the Red Sox did not go according to plan.

Given his reputation as one of the better setup men in the National League in his time with Milwaukee, Thornburg was seen as part of the bridge out of the Sox bullpen that would make way for Craig Kimbrel in the ninth inning.

Instead, the Texas native missed all the 2017 season due to thoracic outlet syndrome in his throwing shoulder and did not make his Red Sox debut until July 6th of the following season.

There, Thornburg appeared in 25 games for Boston, posting a dismal 5.63 ERA and .901 OPS against over 24 innings pitched before being shut down for the remainder of the year on September 26th.

This year, the former third round pick made his first Opening Day roster as a member of the Red Sox, and allowed 16 earned runs on 21 hits and 10 walks to go along with 22 strikeouts over 16 appearances and 18 2/3 innings of work. That’s good for an ERA of 7.71 and OPS against of .972. Not great.

Thornburg yielded two runs on two hits and two walks in the sixth inning of a 10-3 loss against the Toronto Blue Jays on may 21st, two days before he was placed on the IL.

While rehabbing with the PawSox, Thornburg posted a 12.66 ERA and 2.44 WHIP over 11 outings (one start) and just 10 2/3 frames pitched.

As mentioned before, his reputation while with the Brewers should give Thornburg another shot with another club, but it was clear that the marriage between him and the Red Sox was never going to work out. Perhaps a change of scenery will do him better.

Out of all the trades Dave Dombrowski has made since taking over as the Red Sox’ president of baseball operations in 2015, this particular one he made with David Stearns should go down as one of the worst.

The Red Sox virtually got nothing of value out of Thornburg while he was with the club, nor could they flip him for any sort of asset(s) either.

Instead, Travis Shaw, despite being demoted to Triple-A San Antonio last month, has gone on to have two 30-plus home run seasons with the Brewers.

Mauricio Dubon, meanwhile, worked his way to becoming Milwaukee’s fifth-ranked prospect before getting the call up the majors on July 7th, where he will look to provide infield depth to a team competing for a National League Central crown.

All this transpiring while the Red Sox continue to deal with struggles in their bullpen and may even trade for a reliever of Thornburg’s perceived caliber before he arrived in Boston.

Red Sox and Mets Engaged in ‘Early Trade Talks’ Regarding Right-Hander Zack Wheeler

On the same day rumors broke out that the Red Sox were looking to add to their starting rotation, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman reported on Tuesday that the Sox and New York Mets have had trade talks regarding right-hander Zack Wheeler.

Sherman cites that, “the [trade] talks were described as in the early stages and that Boston is not the only club with whom the Mets are discussing Wheeler.”

Wheeler, 29, is set to become a free agent for the first time following the 2019 season, a season in which the righty has posted a not-so-nice 4.69 ERA and 3.81 xFIP through 19 starts and 119 total innings pitched.

As things stand right now at the All-Star break, the Mets have the second-worst record in the National League at 40-50. They are 3-7 in their last 10 games, and are using their first three contests out of the break against the Miami Marlins to determine whether they should be sellers ahead of the July 31st trade deadline, per a club official.

During the 2018/19 offseason, the Mets added two Red Sox execs to their own executive staff, with former Sox senior vice president of player personnel Allard Baird coming on as vice president and assistant GM of scouting and player development, and former vice president of player personnel Jared Banner coming on as executive director of player development under general manager Brodie Van Wagenen.

With that, the Mets probably have a solid idea of what prospects Boston has to offer in any potential trade for Wheeler.

Sherman also notes that Wheeler was made availabe at last year’s deadline as well, and you have to figure that the clubs that miss out on names such as Madison Bumgarner or Marcus Stroman this year will be in on the Mets hurler.

Since these trade talks are only in the early stages, it seems likely that more information will become available if/when these rumors heat up, so stay tuned for that.

Red Sox Reportedly ‘Casting Wide Net’ in Search of Adding Starting Pitcher Before Trade Deadline

The Red Sox are reportedly ‘pushing’ to add a starting pitcher, and they are looking to do it ‘sooner rather than later,’ according to the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

This report comes less than a week after Sox manager Alex Cora announced that right-hander Nathan Eovaldi would be moving to the bullpen once he is activated off the injured list in the coming weeks.

With that impending move to the ‘pen, Eovaldi’s spot in the rotation, which had been occupied by the likes of Brian Johnson, Hector Velazquez, Ryan Weber, and so on, became more of a pressing area of improvement for Boston.

Per ESPN.com, the Red Sox’ rotation owns an ERA of 4.70 and batting average against of .257, the seventh and eighth best in the American League, respectively.

Last Friday, when speaking with The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said, “We built our ballclub for (the starting rotation) to be our strong suit. I don’t think it’s been what we expected or hoped.”

Dombrowski also added that, “They’re a very talented group of pitchers…They’re the guys who are supposed to carry us, really. That’s why I think they’ve been fine. They’ve been okay. But I can’t say they’ve really carried us at any point.”

Names the Red Sox could pursue in trade talks include San Francisco Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner and Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman, although they are more of the premium targets.

Detroit Tigers southpaw Matthew Boyd and Texas Rangers left-hander Mike Minor, two hurlers Boston was scouting late last month, could be made available as well, but it has been reported that Boyd has a high asking price, while the Rangers remain in contention for a wild card spot.

The situation the Red Sox are in reminds me of what happened last season right before the club acquired Eovaldi from the Tampa Bay Rays. All the speculation pointed to the Sox pursuing a reliever like Zach Britton to bolster their bullpen, but they went out and traded for a starter instead.

We’ll just have to wait and see what Dombrowski has in mind leading into the July 31st trade deadline, and how said plans could affect any luxury tax implications.

Nathan Eovaldi Will Move to Bullpen Once Healthy, Says Red Sox Manager Alex Cora

After it was reported by NESN’s Tom Caron on Monday that Nathan Eovaldi will become the Red Sox’ closer when he returns from the injured list, manager Alex Cora made things official in Toronto on Tuesday, stating that the right-hander will move to the bullpen once he is healthy.

Although there was no clear indication that Eovaldi will serve as a traditional closer for Boston, this moves come at a time when the Sox’ bullpen has been under heavy scrutiny lately, especially during this past weekend’s series against the New York Yankees in London.

Since June 20th, Red Sox relievers have posted a cumulative 8.73 ERA and .321 batting average against over their last eight games played, both the worst in all of baseball in that span.

Eovaldi, 29, last recorded a save on June 14, 2009, more than 10 years ago, when he was a prospect in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization and pitching for the Class-A Great Lakes Loons.

In eight career big league appearances as a reliever, the Texas Native owns a lifetime 3.21 ERA and .188 batting average against over 14 total innings of work.

The Red Sox this season lead the American League in blown saves with 17 in 34 opportunities, so the need is obviously there to bolster the back end of a struggling bullpen.

Matt Barnes was viewed as the man who would see the most high leverage opportunities for Boston, but now it appears that role will shift over to Eovaldi once he returns from the IL.

One problem that comes into light once this move is made would be the Sox’ starting rotation.

Eovaldi inked a four-year, $68 milliion deal with Boston back in December to be a starter, he said as much during his press conference at the baseball winter meetings in Las Vegas.

Moving Eovaldi to the ‘pen would leave the Red Sox with the same issue they have been trying to deal with in the righty’s absence, that being the fifth and final spot in the rotation.

So far, names such as Brian Johnson, Hector Velazquez, Josh Smith, and Ryan Weber have made spot starts for Boston, and none have ran into a great deal of success in that role.

When speaking with MLB Network Radio on Tuesday, Cora did not rule out the possibility of Eovaldi returning to the starting rotation later in the season.

Out since the middle of April while recovering from right elbow surgery to remove loose bodies from the area, Eovaldi could be back sooner rather than later now that he will not have to ramp up his workload.

There’s also no guarantee that the former 11th round pick, who as already mentioned has no real closing experience, will be a shutdown reliever once he makes his return. How will his elbow react to working multiple times in a week, compared to just once every five days? That much is unknown.

This all goes to show how unprepared the Red Sox were for the 2019 season. They lost two key pieces of their World Series-winning bullpen in Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel, and did almost nothing to address it outside of acquiring Colten Brewer.