Rays GM Erik Neander explains reasoning behind acquiring Chris Mazza, Jeffrey Springs from Red Sox

On Wednesday morning, the Red Sox traded left-hander Jeffrey Springs, right-hander Chris Mazza, and $100,000 in cash considerations to the Rays in exchange for catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez and infield prospect Nick Sogard.

Both Springs and Mazza had just been designated for assignment by the Sox, so it came as somewhat of a surprise that Boston was able to acquire a highly-touted prospect such as Hernandez — formerly Tampa Bay’s No. 13 prospect according to Baseball America — for two pitchers they were surely prepared to outright or part ways with for nothing in return.

Having said that, why would the Rays strike a deal with their division rival that seemingly strengthens that rival’s minor-league pipeline in exchange for Springs and Mazza, who combined to yield 36 runs (32 earned) in 50 1/3 innings pitched a season ago?

Tampa Bay’s general manager, and Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom’s friend and former colleague, Erik Neander explained the process behind that decision recently.

“This guy is a really talented player and a great person,” Neander said of Hernandez when speaking with reporters via video conference Wednesday night. “I think for us, it’s a situation where it was probably more about the two guys that we’re bringing in. It’s safe to say that in Mazza and Springs, both are talented, we have more optimism than their 2020 ERA’s would suggest. We think they are players that — Mazza in more of a length capacity, Springs in a shorter relief capacity, but can get stretched a little bit — we think are going to be additive to our group and help us win.

“Ultimately, the track records underneath those guys is not extensive by any means, obviously,” he continued. “But, forward-looking on both of them, we’re optimistic that they are better than they’ve been and are players that are going to help us. And with respect to Ronaldo, he’s a good, young talent, and we wish him nothing but the best, certainly. He’s gone about his business with us the right way and is going to continue to develop into being a major-league player one day.”

Mazza, 31, owns a lifetime 5.05 ERA and 4.00 FIP over 18 appearances (six starts) and 46 1/3 major-league innings between the Red Sox and Mets since 2019.

Last season with Boston, the California native ranked in the 83rd percentile among qualified big-league pitchers in regards to exit velocity and ranked in the 8th percentile in regards to hard-hit percentage, so that ability to limit hard contact must be a part of Mazza’s game the Rays find appealing.

Springs, meanwhile, owns a lifetime 5.42 ERA and 4.66 FIP over 59 appearances (two starts) and 84 2/3 innings pitched between the Red Sox and Rangers since 2018.

Last season with Boston, the 28-year-old southpaw ranked also ranked in the 83rd percentile among qualified big-league pitchers in regards to exit velocity while ranking in the 95th percentile in regards to whiff rate.

On top of that, both Mazza and Springs have at least one minor-league option remaining, so Tampa Bay would have the ability to send each of them down this coming season without worry if necessary.

This is the first trade the Red Sox have completed with the Rays since Bloom took over Boston’s baseball operations department a little less than 16 months ago.

“It was different. I think this was our first one, so I told him, ‘You’re making this one easy. Trying to throw you a softball the way it’s perceived. So go ahead, enjoy it,'” Neander said jokingly of his conversations leading up to the trade with Bloom. “It is what it is. We have a good relationship. There’s a lot of trust there. I think that helps cut through a lot of the negotiations that usually take place…. It was different, but it’s been over a year. We’ve grown used to these roles we’re in, and it was nice to work with each other to agree to a trade.”

(Thank you to the Tampa Bay Rays for providing BloggingtheRedSox.com with Erik Neander’s full video conference from Wednesday)

(Picture of Erik Neander: Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

A sampling of scouting reports — and more — on newest Red Sox catching prospect Ronaldo Hernández

In case you missed it, the Red Sox acquired catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez and infield prospect Nick Sogard from the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday morning in exchange for left-hander Jeffrey Springs and right-hander Chris Mazza, as well as $100,000 in cash considerations.

Among the two minor-leaguers Boston received in this deal, Hernandez is without a doubt the most highly-touted.

The 23-year-old was originally signed by the Rays out of Colombia for $225,000 in 2014 and worked his way up to earning a spot on the club’s 40-man roster in November 2019 to avoid being eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.

Despite not getting to experience a minor-league season last year on account of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Hernandez did spend the entirety of the major-league season at the Rays’ alternate training site, so it is not like 2020 was a complete wash for him.

Having said that, the 6-foot-3, 23o pounder saw his offensive production decline the last time he took the field for organized minor-league action in 2019.

Compared to his 2018 slash line of .284/.339/.494 to go along with 21 home runs and 79 RBI over 109 games with Class-A Bowling Green, Hernandez posted a .265/.299/.397 slash while clubbing just nine homers and driving in 60 runs in 103 games with High-A Charlotte two years ago.

He did bounce back by producing an .894 OPS over 42 plate appearances in the Arizona Fall League after the season ended, but there still might be some lingering concerns there.

On the other side of the ball, Hernandez has thrown out 120 of the 288 (42%) of the base runners that attempted to steal against him over the course of his four-year professional career. He is also averaging more than 13 passed balls per season over that span.

Taking what he does offensively and defensively into consideration, here is a sampling of scouting reports from 2020 on Hernandez from various baseball outlets.

FanGraphs:

“If you just look at raw tools, Hernandez compares to Gary Sánchez and is not only a potential everyday catcher but one who might have real impact. He has big raw power and run-stopping, plus-plus arm strength, but his approach is bad (which might impede the power), and his swing only generates power in certain parts of the zone. He loads his hands very high and deep and then cuts down through the typical hitting zone, which causes Hernandez’s power to come toward the top of the zone and out in front when his swing starts to lift, making his point of impact of paramount importance to his power production… His defensive ability, specifically the receiving, might still be a problem and is part of why Kevan Smith was ahead of him on last year’s depth chart. He’s still a high-variance prospect with some flaws that may be exploited in a significant way at the big league level, but Hernandez has a shot to be an everyday player due to his power.”

MLB Pipeline:

“Hernández has a pair of plus tools in his raw power and arm strength, but he’s still learning the nuances of the game and seeking consistency on both sides of the ball. Big and strong, he makes hard contact with strength-driven bat speed and shows feel for finding the barrel thanks to good hand-eye coordination. That Hernández’s power plays almost entirely to his pull side during games speaks to his aggressive approach and leads some scouts to question his overall hitting ability. While he doesn’t strike out much, Hernández does chase contact too often and will need to adopt a more selective approach as he works his way through the Minors.

“A rocket, 70-grade arm and solid catch-and-throw skills help Hernández control the running game, and he’s thrown out 36 and 39 percent of base stealers, respectively, in his first two full-season campaigns. He’s improved as a receiver but still has a way to go to become average, and the same goes for Hernández’s blocking skills. Improving his body and conditioning should help with the latter, and the Rays expect some gains to occur naturally as Hernández gains much-needed experience behind the plate. If it all clicks for him, Hernández could develop into an average defensive catcher who hits for enough power to compensate for his lack of average and receiving issues.”

Baseball America:

“Hernandez’s 2018 breakout season with low Class A Bowling Green has started to fade into the background, but his trade in a swap for a designated for assignment player is still a surprisingly low return for a catcher with significant power potential. Hernandez was not a particularly good fit in a Rays organization that emphasizes receiving ability far above offensive contributions from its catchers.

“Hernandez struggles as a future fringe-average receiver and will have to improve in this facet of the game to earn an everyday role in the majors. His power comes from a very pull-heavy approach that may be exploited by more advanced pitchers. That said, Hernandez has plus power and a plus arm and he’s only 23, so he has a chance to refine some of his current issues. He’s a very useful addition to the Red Sox farm system as a catcher to develop. And if MLB eventually goes to computerized ball-strike calls, his biggest liabilities will largely diminish. Hernandez had to be added to the 40-man roster before the 2020 season and has used one option. He will head into 2021 having not played above high Class A.”

Hernandez was regarded by Baseball America as the Rays’ No. 13 prospect headed into the 2020 season.

According to SoxProspects.com’s Chris Hatfield, the young backstop will likely rank somewhere between No. 11 and No. 2o in regards to the site’s ranking of the Red Sox’ top prospects.

That in turn, would make Hernandez one of, if not the top catching prospect in Boston’s farm system, as noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

On the subject of Red Sox minor-league catchers, Hernandez will join a position group that includes the likes of Connor Wong (also on the 40-man), Jhonny Pereda, Roldani Baldwin, Kole Cottam, Chris Hermann, Jhonny Pereda, and Austin Rei at major-league camp the onset of spring training.

It’s already been said, but in a matter of 12-plus months, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have seemingly transformed the organization’s catching depth from an area of weakness to an area of strength. Not too shabby.

(Picture of Ronaldo Hernandez: Eric Espada/Getty Images)

Red Sox acquire catching prospect Ronaldo Hernández, infield prospect Nick Sogard from Rays in exchange for Chris Mazza, Jeffrey Springs

The Red Sox have traded right-hander Chris Mazza and left-hander Jeffrey Springs as well as cash considerations to the Rays in exchange for catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez and infield prospect Nick Sogard, the team announced Wednesday morning.

Both Mazza and Springs were recently designated for assignment by Boston so that the club could make room on its 40-man roster and accommodate the additions of Martin Perez and Hirokazu Sawamura.

Mazza, 31, posted a 4.80 ERA and 4.26 FIP over nine outings (six starts) and 30 innings pitched in his debut season with the Sox after being claimed off waivers from the Mets in December 2019.

Springs, meanwhile, put up worse numbers than Mazza (7.08 ERA, 4.81 FIP) in 2020, but there is plenty of appeal in what he does on the mound. That much was highlighted by the fact that over a nine-game stretch from August 31 through September 23 last season, the 28-year-old produced a 2.53 ERA and 2.39 xFIP over 10 2/3 innings of relief.

Considering that Mazza and Springs both have at least one minor-league option remaining, it’s not too surprising to see a team — especially a team like the Rays — take a chance on the hurlers via trade.

As for who the Red Sox are acquiring, let’s start with Hernandez.

The 23-year-old backstop entered the 2020 season as Tampa Bay’s No. 13 prospect according to Baseball America.

Although he did not see any big-league playing time in 2020, Hernandez did spend the entirety of the year at the Rays’ alternate training site on account of his being added to the team’s 40-man roster the previous November in order to be protected from the 2019 Rule 5 Draft.

Leading up to that protection, the Colombian posted a .265/.299/.297 slash (104 wRC+) to go along with nine home runs, 60 RBI, and seven stolen bases across 103 games for High-A Charlotte. He also threw out more than 39% of the base runners that attempted to steal against him.

Following the 2019 minor-league season, Hernandez played for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League and posted an OPS of .894 over 11 games played and 42 plate appearances.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 230 lbs., the right-handed hitting Hernandez will join a catching mix at Red Sox camp that includes the likes of Christian Vazquez, Kevin Plawecki, Connor Wong, Jhonny Pereda, and Roldani Baldwin. More on Plawecki in a minute.

Turning to Sogard now, the 23-year-old was the Rays’ 12th-round selection in the 2019 amateur draft out of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

The Southern California native was not included in Tampa Bay’s 60-man player pool this past season, but he did enjoy moderate success in 2019 by slashing .290/.405/.313 with five doubles, 21 RBI, and 20 swiped bags across 63 games for short-season Hudson Valley.

A switch-hitting infielder listed at 6-foot-1 and 180 lbs., Sogard has garnered experience at every infield position besides first base as a professional thus far. He will presumably start the 2021 minor-league season at one of the Red Sox’ Class-A affiliates (Salem or Greenville).

Circling back to Plawecki, the Sox placed the 29-year-old backstop on the COVID-19 related injured list on Wednesday, which cleared up a 40-man roster spot for Hernandez.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Plawecki can spend as much time on the COVID-19 injured list as he needs and will not count against Boston’s 40-man roster during that time.

(Picture of Ronaldo Hernandez: Eric Espada/Getty Images)

Red Sox make Hirokazu Sawamura signing official, designate Jeffrey Springs for assignment

The Red Sox have officially signed right-hander Hirokazu Sawamura to a two-year contract that includes a dual club/player option for the 2023 season, the team announced Tuesday.

In order to make room for Sawamura on their 40-man roster, Boston also designated left-hander Jeffrey Springs for assignment.

According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, Sawamura will earn $3 million over the next two seasons with the chance to earn a total of $7.65 million over the next three years if he “hits every performance bonus and escalator.”

Rosenthal also described Sawamura’s option as “conditional and complex,” and seeing how it is a dual club/player option, that would fit said description.

Expanding on that, MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo tweets that Sawamura will earn a base salary of $1.2 million in 2021 and a base salary of $1.2 million in 2022 that can escalate up to $1.7 million.

As for Sawamura’s dual option for 2023, Cotillo adds that if its a club option, it’s worth anywhere between $3 and $4 million depending on escalators. If the Red Sox decline that, the option then becomes a player option worth anywhere between $600,000 and $2.2 million depending on escalators.

For this year alone, Sawamura will count as a $1.2 million hit against Boston’s competitive balance tax threshold.

The soon-to-be 33-year-old hurler had been pitching in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball Organization since 2011, mostly for the Yomiuri Giants.

This past season, Sawamura got off to a tough start with Yomiuri and was ultimately dealt to the Chiba Lotte Marines as part of a midseason trade between the clubs.

Once he arrived in Chiba City though, things turned around for the better for the Japanese-born righty.

Across 22 relief appearances spanning 21 total innings of work, Sawamura posted a dazzling 1.71 ERA and 0.95 WHIP to go along with 29 strikeouts and just 10 walks.

Sawamura’s pitch arsenal consists of a 94-99 mph four-seam fastball, a swing-inducing splitter, and a below-average slider.

With his new club, Sawamura figures to slide into a late-inning role alongside the likes of Matt Barnes, Adam Ottavino, Ryan Brasier, Darwinzon Hernandez, and Josh Taylor.

As for Springs, the 28-year-old southpaw was designated for assignment 13 months after the Red Sox acquired him from the Texas Rangers in exchange for infielder Sam Travis.

In his debut season with Boston, Springs produced a 7.08 ERA and 4.81 FIP over 16 relief outings and 20 1/3 innings of work in two stints with the club.

That being said, there was a stretch from August 31 through September 23 of last season in which the North Carolina native thoroughly impressed to the tune of a 2.53 ERA and 2.39 xFIP over nine appearances out of the Sox’ bullpen.

Considering the fact he still has three minor-league options remaining, it would not be all that surprising to see another team take a chance on Springs through waivers.

Having said that, the Red Sox will have seven days to either trade Springs, release him, or try to sneak him through waivers themselves.

On another note, Boston’s 40-man roster is back at full capacity, so there will be another move to make in order to accommodate the signing of Marwin Gonzalez, which should be made official in the coming days.

(Picture of Hirokazu Sawamura: Sports Nippon/Getty Images)

Red Sox Strike Out 11 Times Against Max Scherzer, Fall To Nationals 10-2

Celebrating Jackie Robinson Day four months later than usual on Friday night, the Red Sox fell to the Nationals by a final score of 7-1 at Fenway Park to drop to 10-22 on the year.

Martin Perez made his seventh start of the season for Boston in this one as he was coming off his best outing of 2020 thus far in his last time out against the Orioles.

Working just four innings this time around, the left-hander got rocked for six runs, all of which were earned, on eight hits and no walks to go along with one lone strikeout on the night.

The first five of those Washington tallies came in the top of the third, when after retiring the first six hitters he faced rather easily, Perez yielded a leadoff single to Josh Harrison.

That simple base hit would wind up being Perez’s undoing, as it was followed by a pair of one-out doubles from Victor Robles and Trea Turner, which brought in two runs, and a pair of one-out home runs from Juan Soto and Howie Kendrick, which brought in three additional home runs to put the Sox in a 5-0 hole.

In the fourth, the Venezuelan southpaw saw another Nationals run cross the plate when with two outs in the frame, runners on the corners, and Juan Soto at the plate, the speedy Trea Turner attempted, and failed, to steal second base, but gave Victor Robles enough time to score from third before getting tagged out to retire the side. That simultaneously marked the end of Perez’s evening as well.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 82 (55 strikes), the 29-year-old hurler relied on his cutter 35% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing zero swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 95 mph with his heater, a pitch thrown 21 times.

Hit with his fourth losing decision while raising his ERA on the season to 4.58, Perez will look to rebound in his next time out, which should come against the Braves on Wednesday or Blue Jays on Thursday depending on how many days of rest he gets.

In relief of Perez, right-hander Robert Stock got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen, and he faced the minimum in a scoreless top of the fifth before surrendering one run on two hits, one of which was an infield single, and a walk in the sixth, which increased his side’s deficit to six runs.

From there, Jeffrey Springs, similarly enough to Stock, didn’t give up anything in his first frame of work in the seventh, but served up a two-run blast to Josh Harrison and an RBI double to Turner in the eighth before getting out of the inning. Josh Taylor, meanwhile, stranded a pair of base runners in an otherwise clean ninth to keep the Nats at 10 runs. It didn’t make too much of a difference in the end, but it was still something.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up their most accomplished opponent thus far in Nationals ace Max Scherzer, who was making his first appearance at Fenway Park since 2014.

Despite coming into the weekend with a 4.31 ERA through his first six starts of the season, the 36-year-old was dominant on Friday.

The only damage the Boston bats were able to do off Scherzer came in their half of the third inning.

There, after Alex Verdugo reached base on a two-out single, Rafael Devers drove the outfielder in on a blistering, 108 mph run-scoring double to the gap in left center field, which actually happened to be the 100th two-base hit of the 23-year-old’s young career.

Other than that, though, the Sox could not get anything going against Scherzer. Not even a single base on balls as the three-time Cy Young Award winner fanned 11 over six strong innings of work.

When Scherzer’s night ended after those six frames, the Washington bullpen didn’t make things any easier for the Red Sox, either.

As a matter of fact, it wasn’t until the bottom half of the ninth when Boston got on the board again. That came courtesy of a Kevin Pillar RBI single to drive in Tzu-Wei Lin.

Alas, even after loading the bases with two outs, Verdugo flew out to shallow center field, and 10-2 would go down as Friday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this defeat:

The Red Sox are now 4-11 at Fenway Park this season.

The Red Sox went 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position on Friday and left eight runners on base as a team.

Jackie Bradley Jr. (.680) now has a higher OPS than J.D. Martinez (.663)

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the middle game of this three-game weekend series against the defending World Series champs.

Right-hander Chris Mazza will be serving as the opener for Boston, while veteran righty and former Red Sox minor-leaguer Anibal Sanchez will be doing the same for Washington.

A roster move will have to be made in order to add Mazza, who last started on August 16 against the Yankees, to the active roster.

Sanchez, meanwhile, will be making just his second career start at Fenway Park since debuting with the Marlins back in 2006.

Originally signed by Boston as an international free agent out of Venezuela in 2001, the now 36-year-old Sanchez was part of the trade that brought Mike Lowell and Josh Beckett to the Red Sox in 2005.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking to halt a two-game skid.

RIP, Chadwick Boseman.

Kevin Pillar and Jackie Bradley Jr. Both Homer but Red Sox Fall Short of Comeback Win Against Orioles in 5-4 Defeat

After suffering their first extra-innings loss of the year on Saturday, the Red Sox had to settle for a series split in Baltimore on Sunday following a 5-4 defeat at the hands of the Orioles.

Zack Godley made his fifth start and sixth overall appearance of the season for Boston in this one, and he had a tough time consistently finding the strike zone.

Over just 2 2/3 innings pitched, the right-hander was charged with three runs, all of which were earned, on two hits, five walks, and one hit batsman to go along with three strikeouts on the afternoon.

All three of those Baltimore tallies came with Godley off the mound, but right after the South Carolina native had walked the bases loaded with two outs in the bottom of the third.

With his pitch count already at 70 (40 strikes), Godley got the hook from Sox manager Ron Roenicke in favor of the recently recalled Jeffrey Springs.

So, in came the left-handed Springs with one out to get in the third and nowhere to put Rio Ruiz.

Ruiz, in turn, laced a two-run single to right-center field and Andrew Velazquez followed by dropping down a bunt and reaching base on another run-scoring base hit.

That unfortunate sequence for Boston put the O’s up 3-1, and it officially closed the book on Godley’s disappointing day.

Dropping to 0-3 on the year while bumping his ERA up to 7.29, Godley’s spot in the Sox’ starting rotation may be in jeopardy moving forward. If he were to get another start, it would likely come against the Nationals next weekend.

Going back to Springs now, the 27-year-old, managed to escape any further damage in the third by getting Cedric Mullins to pop out to second and then danced his way around a leadoff double in a scoreless bottom of the fourth.

In the fifth, Springs again gave up another two-base hit, but also recorded the first two outs of the frame before Phillips Valdez came on and retired the side with a 4-3 putout.

Valdez returned for the sixth as well and needed just 14 pitches to face the minimum three batters despite giving up a two-out single to Renato Nunez. Kevin Pillar’s arm was the main reason for that.

From there, Robert Stock surrendered two runs on three hits in the seventh to put his side in a 5-2 hole, and Ryan Weber kept that deficit at three with a 1-2-3 eighth inning.

All in all, in relief of Godley, the Boston bullpen combined to allow two runs on eight hits, no walks, and six strikeouts over 5 1/3 total frames pitched. Not too shabby of an effort, although it really did not mean all that much in the end.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against another familiar foe in veteran left-hander Wade LeBlanc for the Orioles.

Kevin Pillar wasted no time in getting the Sox on the board on Sunday, as he greeted LeBlanc in the first by crushing his first career leadoff home run 401 feet to left-center field on the second pitch of the game.

In the sixth, Pillar struck again, this time leading off against Orioles reliever Miguel Castro, ripping a line-drive single to left, and coming around to score on a one-out RBI double off the bat of Xander Bogaerts.

The Sox cut Baltimore’s deficit to just one on Bogaerts’ 17th RBI of the year, and they could have even tacked on some more runs had J.D. Martinez not been gunned down at home on a Christian Vazquez fielder’s choice and Michael Chavis not punched out on five pitches to end the inning.

Fast forward all the way to the ninth, with the Red Sox trailing 5-2 and down to their final out, things got a tad bit interesting when Jackie Bradley Jr. clubbed a two-run homer, his second long ball in as many days, off left-hander Tanner Scott to make it a 5-4 game.

Jonathan Arauz followed with a single back up the middle to put the tying run on base as the Boston lineup flipped back over and Pillar was due to hit next.

Alas, the 31-year-old swung at the first pitch he saw once again, but instead of sending it out of the park, grounded it to short, resulting in an inning-ending force out at second as 5-4 would go on to be Sunday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this defeat:

The Red Sox went 1-for-4 with runners in scoring position on Sunday. They left six runners on base as a team.

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

Next up for the 9-20 Red Sox, they will a day off on Monday for the first time since August 6, as this run of 17 games in 17 days has come to an end.

Following the off day, the Sox will open up a three-game series against the Blue Jays in Buffalo, the home of Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate, on Tuesday.

Earlier this month, Boston took two out of three from the Jays in the only series between the two clubs thus far.

Left-hander Kyle Hart will get the starting nod for the Red Sox in the opener of that three-game set, while the Blue Jays have yet to name a starter.

Through his first two maj0r-league starts since getting called up on August 13, the 27-year-old southpaw has allowed nine runs (seven earned) on nine hits, seven walks, and nine strikeouts over 5 2/3 total innings pitched.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 6:37 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI.

Red Sox Recall Jeffrey Springs, Robert Stock From Alternate Training Site

One day after trading two of their better relievers — Heath Hembree and Brandon Workman — to the Philles on Friday, the Red Sox have recalled left-hander Jeffrey Springs and right-hander Robert Stock from the club’s alternate training site ahead of Saturday night’s game against the Orioles.

Both Springs and Stock will be making their second major-league stint with the Sox this season after the former was optioned to Pawtucket on August 11 and the latter was optioned on August 13.

In his first four relief outings with Boston, Springs, who turns 28 next month, posted a 15.43 ERA and 1.164 OPS against over 4 2/3 total innings pitched from July 27 until August 11. The North Carolina native was originally acquired by the Sox from the Rangers in exchange for Sam Travis back in January.

Stock, meanwhile, made just one appearance for Boston while he was up with the big-league club from August 11 until August 13.

In that one outing against the Rays on August 11, the 30-year-old hurler yielded one unearned run on two hits, three walks and three strikeouts over 1 1/3 total innings of work.

A former second-round draft pick out of the University of Southern California back in 2009, Stock was claimed off waivers by the Red Sox from the Phillies on July 27.

With these moves made, the Red Sox once again have 28 players on their active roster, 15 of which are pitchers.

Red Sox Call up Robert Stock, Option Jeffrey Springs to Pawtucket

Before taking on the Rays in the second of a four-game series at Fenway Park on Tuesday night, the Red Sox have recalled right-hander Robert Stock from the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket and in a corresponding move, optioned left-hander Jeffrey Springs to that same alternate training site.

Stock. 30, was originally claimed by Boston off waivers from the Phillies late last month after he was designated for assignment by Philadelphia on July 23.

Prior to this year, the University of Southern California product appeared in 42 games for the Padres across the 2018 and 2019 seasons, posting an ERA of 4.11 and FIP of 3.27 over 50 1/3 total innings pitched. His rookie campaign was much more effective than his sophomore one, though.

While working out at the Sox’ alternate training site at McCoy Stadium, Stock fanned a pair and reached 100 mph with his four-seam fastball in a sim game appearance over the weekend.

Per Statcast, the former second-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals back in 2009 works with a four-seamer, slider, changeup, and sinker. The average velocity of his heater this past season was 97.9 mph.

If Stock gets into a game during this series against the Rays, I would expect it to come in a low-leverage situation. Of course, he’ll likely be available to work in Thursday’s bullpen game.

As for Springs, the 27-year-old southpaw was sent down to Pawtucket less than 24 hours after surrendering three runs on five hits in just 1 1/3 innings of relief against Tampa Bay on Monday.

Through his first four appearances with the Red Sox after making his first career Opening Day roster, Springs owns an unsightly 15.43 ERA and 1.164 OPS against over 4 2/3 innings of work.

With Springs now in Pawtucket, the Red Sox currently have two left-handed pitchers on their 28-man roster, and one of them is Martin Perez. Perhaps Darwinzon Hernandez and Josh Taylor are close to returning.

 

 

Red Sox Held to Just One Run in Loss to Blue Jays as Offensive Struggles Continue for Rafael Devers, J.D. Martinez

For the second time this season, the Red Sox had a chance to string together their first three-game winning streak of the year. And for the second time this season, that effory fell short, this time coming in a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Blue Jays on Saturday.

Zack Godley made his second start and third overall appearance of the year for Boston in this one, and unlike his last time out against the Yankees looked much more poised against his former club. That being the case because over four innings pitched, the right-hander kept Toronto off the scoreboard while scattering three hits and two walks to go along with three strikeouts on the night.

The only real trouble Godley ran into came in his final inning of work, when he served up back-to-back two-out singles to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to put runners, which at the time put the tying run in scoring position for Randal Grichuk.

Fortunately for Boston, Godley managed to get the Blue Jays outfielder to pop out to first to strand what would have been the tying run at second and end his outing on a more positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 67 (41 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his cutter and curveball a combined 79% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing six total swings-and-misses with the two pitches while topping out at 91 mph with that cut-fastball.

Hit with the no decision later on, Godley was at least able to lower his ERA on the season down to 3.97. He’ll look to bring that number down even more in his next time out, which should come against the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday.

In relief of Godley, left-hander Josh Osich got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen to begin things in the fifth, and he faced the minimum three batters thanks to an inning-ending double play courtesy of Mitch Moreland.

From there, Phillips Valdez nearly surrendered a run in the sixth by walking one and giving up two hits, but was bailed out by Kevin Pillar in right field, who corralled a two-out single off the bat of Guerrero Jr. and gunned down old friend Travis Shaw trying to score from second on play. A rough weekend for the former Sox infielder thus far.

In the seventh, Heath Hembree looked human for the first time this season in that he allowed the Blue Jays to tie this contest up at one run apiece on a Bo Bichette two-out, run-scoring double before a six-pitch walk of Shaw filled the bases for Toronto and resulted in the right-hander getting an early hook in favor of Brasier.

Braiser came into Saturday with a 9.82 ERA on the year, but to his credit, fanned Teoscar Hernandez on three straight strikes to escape the jam and keep the score tied.

Marcus Walden was responsible for the top half of the eighth, and he saw a 1-1 tie turn into a one-run deficit after yielding a leadoff walk to Gurriel Jr., a one-out single to Grichuk, and a run-scoring groundout to Rowdy Tellez. If there’s any consolation for Walden, it’s the fact that he got out of the inning without giving anything else up, although he was ultimately charged with his first loss of 2020.

And in the ninth, left-hander Jeffrey Springs put together his second consecutive scoreless appearance, retiring three of the four hitters he faced in a quick and painless top of the ninth to hold the Blue Jays at two runs.

On the other side of things, a Red Sox lineup that featured Alex Verdugo batting leadoff for the first time was matched up against another veteran right-hander for the Blue Jays in ex-Brewers hurler Chase Anderson.

Kicking off the scoring in the second, the Boston bats made Anderson pay for walking Xander Bogaerts and Mitch Moreland to begin the inning by driving one of those runners in thanks to a Christian Vazquez RBI single right back up the middle moments later.

Andrew Benintendi had a chance to keep the early rally going, but instead grounded into a 4-6-3 double play before Jackie Bradley Jr. flew out to left field to extinguish the threat.

As it would later turn out, that second inning was it for the Sox in terms of meaningful offensive production on Saturday, with Anderson, as well as Blue Jays relievers Wilmer Font, Anthony Kay, Jordan Romano, and Anthony Bass keeping the home side in check the rest of the way en route to a 2-1 loss for Boston.

Some notes and observations from this defeat:

The Red Sox went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position on Saturday and left seven men on base as a team.

Andrew Benintendi was pinch-hit for by Kevin Pillar in the bottom of the fourth inning after just one at-bat.

Rafael Devers and J.D. Martinez went a combined 0-for-7 with one walk and two strikeouts. The former now has an OPS of .543, the latter now has an OPS of .639.

From MLB.com’s Ian Browne:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Would have been interesting to see the new extra-inning rules come into play on Saturday night. Maybe another time.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this three-game weekend set on Sunday night afternoon.

Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will get the ball for Boston, while fellow righty Matt Shoemaker will do the same for Toronto.

The Sox’ de facto ace surrendered four earned runs over five innings of work his last time out against the Rays. He owns a lifetime 4.22 ERA and .799 OPS against in six career outings (five starts) and 32 innings pitched against the Blue Jays.

Shoemaker, meanwhile, has allowed seven earned runs through his first two starts and 10 2/3 innings pitched of the 2020 campaign. The 33-year-old has made three career starts at Fenway Park and has yielded seven earned runs over 18 total innings. That’s god for an ERA of 3.50.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN+ and WEEI, but as mentioned in Saturday’s broadcast, the game will shift over to NESN at the conclusion of the Bruins game.

 

 

Zack Godley Just About Lone Bright Spot for Red Sox in 7-4 Loss to Mets

After a disappointing start to their season over the weekend, the Red Sox saw their losing streak grow to three games on Monday night in a 7-4 defeat at the hands of the Mets at Fenway Park.

Josh Osich got the start for Boston to kick off this two-game interleague series, and he was far from perfect in his first experience as an opener. That being the case because over two innings of work, the left-hander surrendered two runs, both of which were earned, on two hits and one walk to go along with one strikeout on the night.

Both of those Mets runs scored against Osich came off the bat of Michael Conforto, who made the veteran southpaw pay for a leadoff walk of J.D. Davis in the second inning by crushing a two-run home run into the right field bleachers moments later. Once again, the Red Sox found themselves in an early hole, and that hole only got deeper as the Sox turned to another lefty, Jeffrey Springs, to start things out in the third.

Springs, acquired from the Rangers in January, did not fare much better than Osich. In fact, you can even say he had a tougher time of things considering the fact that he served up an absolute missile of a two-run homer to Pete Alonso in the third and a three-run blast to Dominic Smith in the fourth.

The 27-year-old did manage to retire the last man he faced in Brandon Nimmo, but the damage had already been done seeing how his side was down by seven runs. Heath Hembree came on with one out in the top half of the fourth and finished the inning.

From there, things actually got better for the Red Sox pitching staff thanks in large part to the recently-signed Zack Godley, who was slated to be the “bulk inning guy” for Boston in this one.

In what was his long-awaited Red Sox debut, Godley served that role well by working four scoreless frames while scattering four hits and no walks to go along with seven punchouts against the 16 Mets hitters he faced.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 53 (36 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied mostly on his cutter and knuckle curveball while inducing 15 total swings and misses with the combination of pitches. He also topped out at 90.5 mph with that cutter.

Seeing how the Sox’ starting rotation is basically in shambles, Godley should be a candidate to start for Boston when they face off against the Yankees in the Bronx this coming Saturday.

In relief of Godley, right-hander Phillips Valdez wrapped things up by tossing a scoreless ninth inning to hold the Mets at seven runs. Not like it mattered much in the end, but still encouraging to see from someone who is not well-known like Valdez.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against veteran right-hander Michael Wacha for the Mets, who made his first in-game appearance at Fenway Park since pitching in Game 6 of the 2013 World Series.

Contrary to that outing in which he gave up six runs in fewer than four innings of work, the now-29-year-old Wacha was much more effective in his Mets debut. It also didn’t help that the Sox found themselves down by four runs before this game was even a third of the way over.

Back to Wacha, the only Boston run that was scored off the ex-Cardinal came courtesy of a two-out solo home run from Mitch Moreland in the bottom half of the fourth. Moreland’s first big fly of 2020 put his side on the board and made it a 7-1 game in favor of New York.

Fast forward to the sixth, and Xander Bogaerts greeted new Mets reliever Chasen Shreve by taking the left-hander deep to the opposite field on a one-out, 1-1 92 MPH heater right down the heart of the plate. That made it a 7-2 contest.

In the eighth, Moreland and Bogaerts struck once more, this time combining to plate another pair of runs on an RBI groundout and single off Jeurys Familia to make things a little more interesting at 7-4.

A las, nothing more came of that, as Seth Lugo entered for the Mets, fanned Christian Vazquez on seven pitches, and tossed a 1-2-3 ninth to secure a three-run victory for his side and a third straight loss for the Red Sox.

Some notes and observations from this loss:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

The Red Sox have been outscored 21-10 since Friday’s Opening Day win over the Orioles.

Andrew Benintendi got his first hit of the season on Monday, albeit it came on a bunt single. Rafael Devers also collected his second hit of the year, an opposite field double off the base of the Green Monster.

The Braves designated right-hander and 2018 National League All-Star Mike Foltynewicz on Monday. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox should be in on that all things considered.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the series finale of the first leg of this home-at-home bout against the Mets.

Left-hander Matt Hall will get the start for Boston, while New York has yet to name a starter.

According to Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke, Hall, who will be making his first career major-league start, “could go four or five [innings]” since he’s been stretched out.

“I think if he’s pitching well, he’ll be in there for a few innings hopefully,” Roenicke said of Hall on Sunday. “And then we’ll piece together the end of it.”

Hall, who turned 27 years old last week, impressed the Sox during Summer Camp, nearly six month after the southpaw was initially acquired in a trade with the Tigers.

In 21 career relief appearances with Detroit dating back to 2018, the Missouri State product owns a 9.48 ERA and 5.15 FIP over 31 1/3 innings pitched. He has also made 85 career starts in the minors since being taken in the sixth round of the 2015 draft.