Red Sox activate Matt Strahm from COVID-19 related injured list, place Matt Barnes on 15-day injured list due to right shoulder inflammation

Before wrapping up their two-game interleague series against the Cincinnati Reds at Fenway Park on Wednesday, the Red Sox activated left-hander Matt Strahm from the COVID-19 related injured list.

In order to make room for Strahm on the active roster, right-hander Matt Barnes was placed on the 15-day injured list due to right shoulder inflammation, the team announced.

Strahm’s stay on the COVID-related IL lasted all of 48 hours after he was placed on it before Monday night’s 10-0 loss to the Orioles. The 30-year-old southpaw has been one of Alex Cora’s most trusted relievers this season, posting a 3.68 ERA and 1.77 FIP with 16 strikeouts to just three walks over 18 appearances spanning 14 2/3 innings of work.

Barnes, meanwhile, is in the midst of his worst season as a big-leaguer. The 31-year-old has posted a dismal 7.94 ERA and 5.32 FIP with 14 strikeouts to 12 walks across 20 outings and 17 innings pitched in 2022.

That Barnes has struggled as much as he has this year can be attributed to the difficulties he also endured during the second half of last season. Since signing a two-year, $18.75 million extension with the Sox in July, the former first-round draft pick has pitched to a 7.01 ERA and 5.49 FIP over his last 34 2/3 innings.

Since Barnes’ stint on the injured list is retroactive to May 31, the hard-throwing righty would be eligible to return to action as soon as June 15, when the Red Sox host the Oakland Athletics in Boston.

On the flip side of that, though, the Sox could elect to send Barnes out on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Worcester to have him work on things there with WooSox pitching coach Paul Abbott. As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, any rehab assignment can last up to 30 days, ” so the Red Sox can keep Barnes off their roster for a significant amount of time if they so choose.”

Following Wednesday’s transaction, the Red Sox now have Strahm, Ryan Brasier, Tyler Danish, Austin Davis, Jake Diekman, Tanner Houck, Hirokazu Sawamura, John Schreiber, and Phillips Valdez in their active bullpen.

Hansel Robles, who was placed on the 15-day injured list because of back spasms on Saturday, could be activated during Boston’s upcoming west coast road trip, Cora told reporters (including Cotillo) on Tuesday.

(Picture of Matt Strahm: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Red Sox place Matt Strahm on COVID-19 related injured list, recall Hirokazu Sawamura from Triple-A Worcester

Before wrapping up their five-game series against the Orioles at Fenway Park on Monday night, the Red Sox placed left-handed reliever Matt Strahm on the COVID-19 related injured list.

In a corresponding move, right-handed reliever Hirokazu Sawamura was recalled from Triple-A Worcester, the team announced.

At this time, it is not yet clear if Strahm has tested positive for COVID-19 or is simply experiencing virus-like symptoms. Through 18 relief appearances this season, the 30-year-old southpaw has posted a 3.68 ERA and 1.77 FIP with 16 strikeouts to three walks over 14 2/3 innings of work.

Sawamura, meanwhile, returns from Worcester after being optioned there on Saturday. Unsurprisingly, the Japanese-born righty did not get into a game with the WooSox. This season with the big-league club, he has produced a 3.60 ERA and 3.47 FIP to go along with 13 strikeouts to six walks across 18 appearances spanning 15 innings pitched.

Following Monday’s roster move, the Red Sox will now be without Strahm and Hansel Robles (on the 10-day injured list due to back spasms) for the time being. Alex Cora’s bullpen currently consists of the likes of Sawamura, Matt Barnes, Jake Diekman, Austin Davis, John Schreiber, Tyler Danish, Ryan Brasier and Phillips Valdez. Tanner Houck could be included there, too, but he is not available to pitch on Monday, per Cora.

(Picture of Matt Strahm: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox blow 6-run lead as bullpen melts down in 12-8 loss to Orioles

The Red Sox blew a six-run lead against the Orioles at Fenway Park and ultimately lost a winnable game in frustrating, yet ugly fashion. Boston fell to Baltimore by a final score of 12-8 on Friday night to drop to 21-24 on the season.

As he has done so often lately, Enrique Hernandez provided an early spark by leading off the first inning with a line-drive single. He then scored all the way from first base when Rafael Devers promptly ripped a single to left-center field. Devers was able to move up to second because of an Anthony Santander fielding error.

J.D. Martinez followed by taking a 94 mph fastball off his left arm to put runners at first and second for Xander Bogaerts, who unloaded on a 3-2, 87 mph slider down the heart of the plate by sending it off the National Car Rental sign above the Green Monster for a three-run home run.

Bogaerts’ fifth homer of the season travelled 423 feet and had an exit velocity of 112 mph. It also gave the Red Sox a 4-0 lead before they had even recorded an out. An inning later, a seemingly red-hot Alex Verdugo came through with two outs and the bases loaded by lacing a 406-foot ground-rule double into the center field bleachers. Verdugo’s second hit of the night made it a 6-0 ballgame.

On the other side of things, Garrett Whitlock made his seventh start of the season for Boston. The right-hander allowed two earned runs on five hits and one walk to go along with four strikeouts over six innings of work.

Both of those Baltimore runs came in the top half of the fourth, as Whitlock issued a one-out walk to Trey Mancini before immediately serving up a two-run home run to Santander.

Whitlock gave up two more runs hits the inning, but limited the damage to two runs. The Red Sox got both of those runs back on a Martinez RBI double in the bottom of the fourth and a Christian Vazquez RBI single in the bottom of the fifth. Whitlock, meanwhile, bounced back from his rough fourth inning by retiring five of the final seven batters he faced through the middle of the sixth.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 84 (56 strikes), the 25-year-old hurler relied on his sinker 58% of the time he was on the mound Friday. He averaged 95.4 mph with the pitch in the process of lowering his ERA on the season to 3.49.

In relief of Whitlock, manager Alex Cora first turned to Jake Diekman out of the Boston bullpen for the seventh inning. The left-hander allowed two of the first three Orioles he faced to reach base before giving up a towering, 391-foot three-run home run to Jorge Mateo.

Mateo’s blast trimmed the Sox’ lead down to three runs at 5-8. In the eighth, John Schreiber ran into some long ball troubles of his own when he issued a leadoff walk to Santander that was followed by a two-run homer off the bat of Austin Hays.

The first two earned runs Schreiber has given up all season brought Baltimore back to within one run at 8-7. Matt Strahm was then called upon to end things in the eighth, but the lefty surrendered a ground-rule double to Rougned Odor. He then got Ramon Urias to hit a three-foot groundball to the left side of the infield.

Devers charged the ball and barehanded it before attempting to make an off-balance throw to first base. His throw missed the mark by a wide margin, though, and that allowed Odor to score and knot things up at eight runs apiece.

Strahm was sent back out for the ninth and gave up three straight singles, with Santander giving the O’s their first lead of the night on an RBI base hit to right field. Strahm, who was later charged with the blown save and loss, then made way for Hirokazu Sawamura, who walked the first man he faced to fill the bases for Adley Rutschmann.

Rutschmann, in turn, grounded into a force out at home plate but reached first safely to keep the bases loaded. With Ryan Mountcastle up to bat, a wild pitch from Sawamura that got between Vazquez’s legs allowed Santander to score from third. Mountcastle drove in a run of his own on a sacrifice fly before Odor put the final nail in the coffin with another RBI single.

What at one point was an 8-2 lead for the Red Sox had turned into a 12-8 deficit. That is what happens when you allow the opposition to score 10 unanswered runs.

12-8 would go on to be Friday’s final score after the Sox went down quietly in their half of the ninth. Boston is now 3-4 in games started by Whitlock this year. They are likely a better team with him in the bullpen.

Next up: Doubleheader on deck

The Red Sox will look to bounce back in a day-night doubleheader against the Orioles on Saturday. Baltimore has yet to name its starters. Boston, meanwhile, will roll with right-handers Nathan Eovaldi and Josh Winckowski, who will be making his major-league debut.

First pitch for Game 1 at Fenway Park is scheduled for 12:10 p.m. eastern time. First pitch for Game 2 is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. ET. Both games will be broadcasted on NESN.

(Picture of Matt Strahm: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Christian Arroyo homers, Rich Hill takes perfect game into fifth inning as Red Sox hold on for 3-1 win over Orioles

The Red Sox kicked off the final leg of their road trip with a 3-1 victory over the Orioles at Camden Yards on Friday night. With the win, Boston improved to 9-12 on the season.

Matched up against Kyle Bradish, who was making the first start of his big-league career for the O’s, to begin things on Friday, the Sox got on the board first in their half of the second inning.

Enrique Hernandez led off the top of the second with a single to shallow center field. After Franchy Cordero flew out, Christian Arroyo followed by clubbing a 408-foot two-run homer into Baltimore’s bullpen.

Arroyo’s first home run of the season gave Boston an early 2-0 lead. It was also the first home run hit by a Red Sox batter since Rafael Devers went deep off Corey Kluber in St. Petersburg last Friday.

Jackie Bradley Jr. kept the rally going by reaching base on an infield single. He then scored all the way from first when Christian Vazquez ripped a single to right field that got past Trey Mancini and rolled all the way to the wall. Vazquez was easily thrown out at third, but the damage had already been done.

Rich Hill, making his fourth start of the year for the Sox, took full advantage of the three-run cushion he was given. The veteran left-hander allowed just one hit and no walks to go along with four strikeouts over four-plus innings of work.

After retiring each of the first 12 batters he faced, Hill took a perfect game bid into the fifth inning but yielded a leadoff single to Austin Hays, which is how his night would come to an end. Finishing with a final pitch count of 50 (35 strikes), the 42-year-old southpaw threw 24 curveballs, 20 four-seamers, four sliders, and two changeups while lowering his ERA on the season to 3.71.

In relief of Hill, Tanner Houck got the first call from manager Alex Cora out of the bullpen. Houck, fresh off being activated from the injured list, stranded the lone base runner he inherited in the fifth despite allowing one hit and one walk in the inning. The right-hander sat down the side in order in the sixth but ran into additional trouble in the seventh when he loaded the bases with two outs.

Houck did not falter, though, as he punched out the pinch-hitting Rougned on three straight strikes to escape the jam and hand things over to Jake Diekman in the eighth. Diekman, in turn, needed 17 pitches to toss a scoreless frame.

Hansel Robles was dispatched for the ninth and immediately served up a solo home run to Ryan Mountcastle that was followed by a line-drive single off the bat of Hays.

With the tying run at the plate, Robles issued a balk that allowed Hays to advance to second. He then got Ramon Urias to fly out and Tyler Nevin to line out to right for the first two outs.

Cora went back into the bullpen and gave Robles the hook in favor of Matt Strahm, who walked Anthony Santander on five pitches to put the tying run on base with runners at first and second. The lefty, however, did not give in as he fanned the pinch-hitting Chris Owings to slam the door on Baltimore and earn the first save of his major-league career.

Next up: Eovaldi vs. Watkins

The Red Sox will go for the series win over the Orioles by sending right-hander Nathan Eovaldi to the mound on Saturday night. Fellow righty Spenser Watkins will get the ball for Baltimore.

First pitch from Camden Yards is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Rich Hill: Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ offensive woes continue as Bo Bichette’s go-ahead grand slam lifts Blue Jays to 6-2 win

The Red Sox’ offensive struggles continued on Monday as they opened their four-game series against the Blue Jays with yet another loss. Boston fell to Toronto by a final score of 6-2 at Rogers Centre to drop to 7-10 on the season.

Nathan Eovaldi, making his fourth start of the year for the Sox, was extremely effective and did not factor into Monday’s decision. The veteran right-hander allowed just two earned run on five hits, no walks, and five strikeouts over seven economic innings of work.

Both runs Eovaldi surrendered to Toronto came by way of the long ball. After tossing four scoreless frames to start his day, the righty served up a 380-foot solo shot to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to lead off the bottom of the fifth.

In his seventh and final inning, Eovaldi yielded another solo homer to Matt Chapman. This one left Chapman’s bat at 107.2 mph, traveled 422 feet to left-center field, and gave the Jays a 2-0 lead.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 72 (56 strikes), Eovaldi induced a total of 10 swings-and-misses while throwing 29 four-seam fastballs, 22 curveballs, 12 sliders, six splitters, and three cutters. The hard-throwing 32-year-old also topped out at 98.8 mph with his heater.

Shortly after Eovaldi’s night had ended, a Trevor Story-lessRed Sox lineup finally got something going against his counterpart in Blue Jays starter Jose Berrios. Up until the eighth inning, Boston had been held in check by Berrios despite having a few scoring opportunities.

Earlier in the second inning, J.D. Martinez made his presence felt after a four-game absence by ripping a one-out double to center field. A four-pitch walk drawn by Jackie Bradley Jr. and line-drive single from Bobby Dalbec then loaded the bases for Christian Arroyo.

Arroyo, however, was unable to come through with a pair of runners in scoring position as he grounded into a back-breaking, 1-2-3 double play that extinguished the threat.

In the top of the fourth, Xander Bogaerts led off with a hard-hit single of his own and moved up to second on a Rafael Devers groundout. But he left on base after Martinez and Bradley Jr. both flew out themselves.

An inning later, Blue Jays center fielder George Springer robbed Kevin Plawecki of a two-out extra-base hit when he sprawled out and made a sensational diving catch on a 101.7 mph liner off the bat of the Red Sox catcher.

Fast forward all the way to the eighth, and the Sox ultimately chased Berrios on back-to-back singles from Dalbec and Arroyo to lead off the inning. With Adam Cimber now on the mound for Toronto, Plawecki advanced both runners into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt.

With the lineup turning back over, Enrique Hernandez broke the seal with an RBI single to left field that brought in Dalbec. Alex Verdugo followed with a sacrifice fly that scored Arroyo and knotted things up at two runs apiece.

That 2-2 tie did not last long, though. With Eovaldi done after seven, Matt Strahm got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen from acting manager Will Venable in the middle of the eighth.

Strahm got the first out of the frame but issued a one-out single to Raynel Espinal. Bradley Zimmer then dropped a drag bunt down the first base line that Strahm fielded cleanly and flipped to Dalbec covering first base. Dalbec could not squeeze the ball into his glove, though, and that allowed both runners to reach base safely.

That sequence prompted Venable to give Strahm the hook in favor of Tyler Danish, who gave up a single to Springer that loaded the bases for Bichette. Bichette, in turn, crushed a 1-0, 92 mph sinker from Danish and sent it 344 feet over the right field wall for the go-ahead grand slam.

Bichette’s slam gave the Blue Jays a commanding 6-2 lead heading into the ninth. Devers doubled to lead off the inning but was stranded there as Martinez, Bradley Jr., and Dalbec went down in order to Julian Merryweather to seal the defeat.

Some notes from this loss:

Nathan Eovaldi gave up 15 home runs in 182 2/3 innings last season. He has already given up seven home runs in just 21 2/3 innings this season.

The Red Sox went 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position on Monday and left five runners on base as a team.

At 7-10, Boston has now lost five of its last six games. They are averaging less than 2.2 runs per game and have been outscored 26-13 during this rough stretch.

Next up: Pivetta vs. Gausman

It does not get any easier for the Red Sox as they will go up against Blue Jays right-hander Kevin Gausman on Tuesday night. Boston will counter with Canadian-born righty Nick Pivetta.

First pitch from Rogers Centre is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Bo Bichette: Mark Blinch/Getty Images)

Trevor Story makes game-saving play as Red Sox hold on for 4-3 win over Rays

The Red Sox kicked off one of their longest road trips of the season with a series-opening win over the Rays in St. Petersburg on Friday night. Boston barely defeated Tampa Bay by a final score 4-3 at Tropicana Field to improve to 7-7.

Matched up against a familiar foe in Corey Kluber to begin things, the Sox wasted no time in attacking the Rays starter. A pair of first-inning singles from leadoff man Trevor Story and Xander Bogaerts put runners at the corners for Alex Verdugo, who drove in Story on an RBI single back up the middle. Bogaerts himself scored on an RBI groundout from Jackie Bradley Jr.

Given an early 2-0 lead to work with out of the gate, Michael Wacha was rudely greeted to begin his third start of the season. With one out in the bottom of the first, the right-hander served up his first of two solo shots to Rays phenom Wander Franco. This one left Franco’s bat at 109.7 mph and traveled 389 feet into the right field seats to make it a 2-1 game.

The Sox were able to respond, though, and that happened when Rafael Devers led off the third inning with his third home run of the season. On a 1-0, 84 mph cutter from Kluber, Devers clubbed a 380-foot solo shot down the right field line to give his side a 3-1 edge. Bogaerts tacked on another by lacing a 107 mph double and scoring on a one-out RBI single off the bat of Enrique Hernandez. Travis Shaw nearly extended the inning with a three-run home run down the right field line like Devers’, but it was instead deemed a foul ball and Shaw struck out.

With a three-run cushion to operate with now, Wacha received some help from his infield in the bottom of the third. After putting runners on first and second with two outs, Bogaerts robbed Yandy Diaz of an extra-base hit by snatching a 110.7 mph line drive in mid-air to extinguish the threat.

An inning later, Story made a sprawling grab up the middle to rob Manuel Margot of a one-out single. Wacha continued to roll on through the fourth and was one out way from getting through a scoreless fifth. Franco prevented that from happening, though, as he took the righty deep once more to cut Tampa Bay’s deficit to two. Randy Arozarena struck out to end the fifth, which would wind up being Wacha’s final inning.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 82 (50 strikes), Wacha surrendered just two runs on three hits and two walks to go along with three strikeouts in his five innings. The 30-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball and changeup a combined 69% of the time he was on the mound Friday.

In relief of Wacha, Austin Davis received the first call from acting manager Will Venable out of the Boston bullpen in the sixth inning. With some help from Verdugo, who recorded his second outfield assist of the year by gunning down Yandy Diaz at second base, the left-hander faced the minimum on 17 pitches — 10 of which went for strikes. Fellow southpaw Matt Strahm was next up for the eighth and immediately gave up a leadoff single to Margot.

Kevin Kiermaier effectively traded places with Margot while grounding into the first out of the inning. Kiermaier then went from first to third on a Mike Zunino single that was accompanied by a Bogaerts throwing error and scored from third on a Brandon Lowe groundout.

With two outs in the seventh inning of a 4-3 game, Venable went back to the bullpen and brought in Hansel Robles to face off against Franco. Forcing the switch-hitter to hit from the left side of the plate, Robles got Franco to fly out to Verdugo in left to strand the potential tying run at second base.

Robles’ job was not yet done, however, as the hard-throwing right-hander came back out for the eighth. He struck out one and induced a pair of groundouts to send things along to the ninth inning.

Jake Diekman was unable to lock things down in the ninth. The left-hander instead walked the bases loaded while recording the first two outs of the frame to leave things in the hands of Matt Barnes.

Branes was brought in to face Franco and had nowhere to put him. Looking to reclaim his role as Boston’s closer, Barnes got Franco to ground out to Story, though it was no easy play.

After sliding to his left to field the 101 mph grounder, Story quickly got back to his feet and made the throw over to Bobby Dalbec at first base to record the final out. Barnes was credited with his first save of the year as he closes out the 4-3 victory.

Next up: Whitlock set to make first career start

As the Red Sox go for their second straight win over the Rays on Saturday, right-hander Garrett Whitlock will be making his first career big-league start for Boston. Tampa Bay has yet to announce who will be starting for them.

Regardless, first pitch is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Enrique Hernandez and Trevor Story: Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

Alex Verdugo and Xander Bogaerts both homer, Tanner Houck twirls 5 2/3 scoreless innings as Red Sox blank Twins, 4-0

The Red Sox used the power of the long ball to defeat the Twins at Fenway Park on Saturday evening. Wearing their marathon-inspired City Connect uniforms for the first time in 2022, Boston bested Minnesota by a final score of 4-0 to improve to 4-4 on the year.

Matched up against Twins starter Sonny Gray to begin things in the second of this four-game series, Alex Verdugo kicked off the scoring in the bottom of the second inning.

Moments after J.D. Martinez drew a leadoff walk, Verdugo swung at a 2-2, 92 mph sinker from Gray and deposited it 437 feet over the Sox’ bullpen and into the right field bleachers for his third home run of the season.

Verdugo’s two-run blast, which left his bat at a blistering 108.6 mph, gave Boston an early 2-0 lead. An inning later, with Josh Winder now pitching for Minnesota, Enrique Hernandez reached base via a one-out double down the left field line. After Rafael Devers grounded out to advance Hernandez to third base, Xander Bogaerts came through with a two-run shot of his own.

Coming into play Saturday in the midst of a 2-for-18 rut at the plate, Bogaerts broke out of his slump by unloading on an 0-1, 94 mph fastball from Winder and sent it exactly 400 feet over the Green Monster for his first big fly of 2022.

Bogaerts’ two-run homer put the Sox up, 4-0. While the Boston lineup was busy establishing that lead, Tanner Houck was putting together a solid outing on the mound.

Houck, making his second start of the season, kept Minnesota off the board while scattering just two hits and three walks to go along with four strikeouts over 5 2/3 impressive innings of work.

The right-hander struggled with his command early on, but — with the help of some double plays — was able to settle into a groove and retire nine of the final 11 batters he faced. With two outs in the top half of the sixth, Houck issued a four-pitch walk to Luis Arraez, which is how his day came to a close.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 89 (50 strikes), Houck relied on his four-seam fastball 34% of the time he was on the mound Saturday and averaged 94.5 mph with the pitch. The 25-year-old also earned his first winning decision of the season.

Matt Strahm got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen from manager Alex Cora and stranded the lone runner he inherited by getting Jorge Polanco to fly out to Jackie Bradley Jr. in right field. The lefty also recorded the first two outs of the seventh before yielding a hard-hit double to Trevor Larnach.

At that point, Cora opted to turn things over to Garrett Whitlock, as he did in Detroit this past Tuesday. This time around, Whitlock was once again efficient. The righty reliever ended the seventh by fanning Gio Urshela on three pitches, struck out the side while stranding two runners in the eighth, and worked his way around a two-out hit in the ninth to close out a 4-0 shutout victory.

Some notes from this win:

Red Sox second baseman Trevor Story went 1-for-3 on Saturday. His lone hit, a fourth-inning single, came off Josh Winder and had an exit velocity of over 103 mph.

The Red Sox recorded three double plays on Saturday: Tanner Houck struck out Carlos Correa for the second out of the first inning, then Christian Vazquez gunned down Jorge Polanco at second base for the third and final out. In the third inning, Ryan Jeffers grounded into a 5-4-3 double play. And in the fifth, Gio Urshela grounded into a 6-4-3 twin killing.

Garrett Whitlock working on three days rest on Saturday: 2 1/3 innings pitched, 2 hits, 0 runs, one walk, and five strikeouts on 30 pitches (23 strikes). He topped out at 97.3 mph with his four-seam fastball.

Next up: Ober vs. Wacha

The Red Sox will rock their City Connect uniforms once again and go for their second straight win over the Twins on Sunday afternoon. Michael Wacha will get the ball for Boston and he will be opposed by fellow right-hander Bailey Ober for Minnesota.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Should the Red Sox consider trading Austin Davis?

Seven games into the 2022 season, the two Red Sox relievers who are tied for the team lead in appearances with four apiece are Ryan Brasier and Austin Davis.

Both Brasier and Davis were used by manager Alex Cora out of the bullpen in Friday’s 8-4 loss to the Twins at Fenway Park. The former struck out the side in a scoreless seventh inning. The latter allowed two runners to reach base but also fanned three in a scoreless eighth inning.

In Davis’ case, the left-hander has now yielded three earned runs on five hits and two walks to go along with five strikeouts over his first three innings pitched this year.

Put another way, Davis has posted a 9.00 ERA, a 2.33 WHIP, an OPS against of .945, a strikeout rate of 29.4%, and a walk rate of 11.7% so far this season. Two of his four outings have been scoreless, though Friday’s performance was undoubtedly his best work to this point.

Of the 21 pitches Davis threw in Friday’s loss to Minnesota, 13 went for strikes. The 29-year-old southpaw induced a total of seven swings-and-misses; three on his slider and changeup and one on his four-seam fastball.

In regards to his four-seamer, Davis averaged 93.6 mph with the pitch across 26 1/3 innings between the Pirates and Red Sox in 2021. On Friday, he averaged 95.6 mph with his heater and topped out at 97 mph with it, per Baseball Savant. For his big-league career, which dates back to June 2018, Davis had only thrown a pitch 97 mph or faster on two separate occasions prior to Friday’s outing.

Since the Red Sox acquired Davis from the Pirates for infielder Michael Chavis last July, the lefty has been one of Cora’s more frequently-used relievers. From the time he debuted for Boston on July 31 of last season, Davis has now made 24 relief appearances for the Sox. The only other hurlers who have seen more action over that stretch are Adam Ottavino (24 appearances), who is no longer with the team, and Hansel Robles (30 appearances).

Despite a career ERA of 5.49 in a Red Sox uniform, it would appear as though the club likes what they have in Davis. With that being said, though, it is worth wondering if Davis’ spot in Boston’s bullpen could be on the line sometime in the near future.

As a result of a shortened spring training, major-league teams were permitted to carry 28 players on their active roster. This, for instance, allowed the Red Sox to carry 10 relievers on their Opening Day squad.

On May 2, however, teams will be required to trim their rosters back down to the traditional size of 26 active players. When that time comes, the Sox will have no other choice but to carry no more than 13 pitchers on their active roster.

The way things stand now, Davis is one of three lefties in Boston’s bullpen alongside the likes of Jake Diekman and Matt Strahm. Josh Taylor, who began the season on the injured list due to a low back strain, could be nearing a minor-league rehab assignment.

With Diekman and Strahm being new free-agent additions and Taylor already earning the trust of Cora last season, would the Red Sox still entertain the idea of carrying four left-handed relievers on their 26-man roster beginning next month?

If Davis is deemed the odd man out once rosters shrink and Taylor returns from the injured list, the Red Sox could not simply option him to Triple-A Worcester, for the Arizona native is out of minor-league options. Because of this, Boston would need to expose Davis to waivers if they wanted to retain his services as a non-40-man roster player in the minors.

Taking that into account and assuming that Taylor will be back before long, what would be stopping the Red Sox from trading Davis away for a prospect who is not on a 40-man roster at some point between now and May 2? Why risk losing Davis for nothing when you could get something back in return?

Under chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, the Red Sox have made similar moves in the past, with the Yoan Aybar-for-Christian Koss swap probably sticking out the most. Davis, of course, is far more established than Aybar and could fetch an intriguing return since he is still under club control for three more seasons after 2022.

At the end of the day, do the Red Sox need to trade Davis? No. Even with Taylor on his way back, perhaps the club still believes Davis can play an important role out of the bullpen this season. If not, though, then perhaps it would be in Boston’s best interest to explore their options now before running into a roster crunch in a few weeks.

(Picture of Austin Davis: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Bobby Dalbec comes through with go-ahead homer as Red Sox hold on for 4-3 win over Yankees to avoid sweep

The Red Sox will not be starting 0-3 for a second consecutive year, as they squeaked out a 4-3 win over the Yankees in the Bronx on Sunday night to avoid a sweep and improve to 1-2 on the young season.

Matched up against Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery to begin things in Sunday’s series finale, the Sox once again got on the board in their half of the first inning.

Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts each reached base via one-out singles, and both scored on a J.D. Martinez RBI double that was followed by a sacrifice fly from Christian Arroyo.

In possession of an early 2-0 lead, Sox starter Tanner Houck had an immediate cushion to work with. The right-hander was not at his sharpest on Sunday, though, as he allowed three earned runs on six hits, three walks, and one hit batsman to go along with three strikeouts over just 3 1/3 innings pitched.

The first of those three runs scored off Houck came with no outs in the bottom of the third, when Giancarlo Stanton plated Anthony Rizzo from second base to cut Boston’s lead in half at 2-1.

After Jonathan Arauz got that run back on a sacrifice fly off Yankees reliever Clarke Schmidt that scored Arroyo in the top half of the fourth, New York struck again in the latter half of the frame.

There, Houck issued back-to-back leadoff hits to Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Jose Trevino to put runners at first and second. He then punched out Josh Donaldson, who turned out to be the final batter he would face.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 78 (45 strikes), Houck turned to his four-seam fastball 45% of the time he was on the mound Sunday and hovered around 95.4 mph with the pitch.

In relief of Houck, Ryan Brasier got the first call from manager Alex Cora out of the Boston bullpen. Brasier, in turn, allowed both of the runners he inherited to score on a then-game-tying two-run single from Rizzo.

Kutter Crawford was next up in the fifth inning and impressed in his second appearance of the season. The 26-year-old righty stranded a pair of runners in scoring position in the fifth before striking out Rizzo and Aaron Judge in a scoreless sixth.

Moments before Crawford did that, Bobby Dalbec broke the 3-3 tie by cranking his first home run of the season off Schmidt. It came on the very first pitch of the sixth inning, a 94 mph sinker down the heart of the plate that Dalbec deposited 391 feet to right-center field to give the Red Sox a 4-3 advantage.

In the seventh, Crawford yielded a leadoff single to Stanton, representing the potential tying run, before making way for Matt Strahm. The left-hander proceeded to strand Stanton at first base by retiring the next three Yankees he faced in order.

From there, Hansel Robles maneuvered his way around a leadoff walk in an otherwise clean eighth inning. And in the ninth, Jake Diekman got his outing started in dramatic fashion by fanning the dangerous Judge on 11 pitches. He then got Stanton and Joey Gallo to strike out swinging as well to lock down his first save in a Red Sox uniform.

All told, five different Boston relievers (Brasier, Crawford, Strahm, Robles, Diekman), combined for 5 2/3 scoreless innings in which they scattered five hits and one walk while striking out a total of six.

Crawford, for what it’s worth, was credited with the winning decision — the first of his young career.

Some other notes from this victory:

From the Red Sox’ J.P. Long:

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

Next up: To Detroit

The Red Sox will continue their season-opening road trip by heading to Detroit for a three-game set against the Tigers at Comerica Park.

Veteran right-hander Michael Wacha is slated to make his first start of the year for Boston in the series opener on Monday. Detroit will roll with fellow righty Matt Manning.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 5:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Bobby Dalbec: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Red Sox make signing of Jake Diekman official, place James Paxton on 60-day injured list

The Red Sox have officially signed left-hander Jake Diekman to a two-year deal that also includes a team option for 2024, the club announced on Wednesday. In a corresponding move to make room on the 40-man roster, fellow southpaw James Paxton was unsurprisingly placed on the 60-day injured list as he continues to recover from Tommy John surgery

Diekman, 35, first agreed to a multi-year contract with the Sox over the weekend and was spotted at the Fenway South Complex with Matt Strahm on Monday. He then passed his physical on Wednesday, leading to his signing becoming official.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Diekman’s deal includes $8 million in guaranteed money. He will earn a base salary of $3.5 million over the next two seasons with the chance to earn an additional $4 million in 2023. If the Red Sox decline his club option, Diekman will net $1 million in the form of a buyout.

A former 30th-round draft choice of the Phillies out of Cloud County Community College in 2007, Diekman has pitched for five different teams over the course of his 10-year big-league career. The Nebraska native became a free agent this winter after spending the last 2 1/2 seasons with the Athletics.

In 67 appearances (third-highest on the team) out of Oakland’s bullpen in 2021, Diekman posted a 3.86 ERA and 4.46 FIP to go along with 83 strikeouts to 34 walks over 60 2/3 innings of work. His splits against left-handed hitters were similar to his splits against right-handed hitters, as he yielded a .716 OPS against the former and a .711 OPS against the latter.

There were 14 left-handed relievers across Major League Baseball who tossed at least 60 innings last year. Among them, Diekman ranked first in strikeouts per nine innings (12.3), first in strikeout rate (31.7%), 11th in walks per nine innings (5.0), 11th in walk rate (13%), ninth in batting average against (.211), 13th in WHIP (1.34), and ninth in xFIP (4.09), per FanGraphs.

Throughout his career, Diekman has primarily been a four-pitch pitcher who operates with a four-seam fastball (averaged 95.3 mph in 2021), a slider, a sinker, and a changeup. Based off the data available on Baseball Savant, the 6-foot-4, 195 pound hurler had one of the top whiff rates (35.1%) in all of baseball last season.

Diekman, who will wear the No. 35 with the Sox, brings plenty of experience to his new team and should prove to be a versatile, high-leverage relief option for manager Alex Cora. He recorded seven of his 14 career saves last year and has otherwise made 479 lifetime appearances between innings seven through nine.

With the additions of Diekman and Strahm, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has bolstered the left side of Boston’s bullpen to complement the likes of Austin Davis, Darwinzon Hernandez, and Josh Taylor.

(Picture of Jake Diekman: Nic Antaya/Getty Images)