Red Sox Lineup: Colten Brewer Making Second Start of Season in Second of Four Against Orioles

After picking up their second straight victory on Thursday, the Red Sox will look to kick off the weekend with another win over the Orioles in Baltimore on Friday night.

Right-hander Colten Brewer will make his second start and ninth overall appearance of the season for Boston, and he will be opposed by Orioles left-hander John Means.

In his first start of the year, Brewer surrendered two runs on four hits and three walks over 2 2/3 innings of work against the Yankees last Friday. Outside of that, the 27-year-old owns a 3.97 ERA and .756 OPS against as a reliever this season.

Upon completing anywhere from two to four innings against the O’s on Friday, Brewer will be followed by the recently-activated Darwinzon Hernandez out of the Boston bullpen.

Per Sox manager Ron Roenicke, the plan for the 23-year-old southpaw, who was activated from the COVID-19 related injured list on Thursday, is to pitch one or two innings in his season debut.

As for Boston’s opposition, fellow southpaw John Means owns a lifetime 4.02 ERA and .704 OPS against in six career outings (five starts) and 31 1/3 total innings pitched against the Red Sox.

The 27-year-old, who was Baltimore’s lone All-Star last season, has posted a 10.57 ERA and 6.56 FIP through his first three starts of 2020.

Here is how the Red Sox will be lining up behind Brewer and against Means to begin things on Friday:

With a left-hander on the mound for Baltimore, Kevin Pillar moves up to the leadoff spot while Alex Verdugo slips to the six-hole and Mitch Moreland takes a seat in favor of Michael Chavis at first base.

Among these nine hitters, Xander Bogaerts has by far seen Means the best, as the 27-year-old shortstop owns a lifetime .417/.429/.750 slash line with one home run in 12 career at-bats against the Orioles starter.

J.D. Martinez has also taken Means deep twice before.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox going for their third consecutive victory.

Colten Brewer to Make First Career Start for Red Sox in Series Opener Against Yankees

Right-hander Colten Brewer will make his first career start for the Red Sox against the Yankees on Friday night, the club announced.

Brewer has made 75 relief appearances with both the Padres and Red Sox since making his major-league debut in April 2018, but Friday will mark his first start at the highest level. He will be the 10th different Boston pitcher to make a start this season through the club’s first 20 games.

The 27-year-old was originally brought up as a starting pitcher upon getting drafted by the Pirates in the fourth round of the 2011 amateur draft out of Canton High School in Texas, but his last start before moving to the bullpen full-time came on June 25, 2016.

In three career relief appearances at Yankee Stadium, where the Red Sox will open a four-game weekend wraparound series on Friday, Brewer has surrendered two earned runs on three hits (one home run) and one walk over two total innings of work. That’s good for an ERA of 9.00 and an OPS against of 1.067, albeit it is a relatively small sample size.

The highest number of innings Brewer has worked in a game through his first six outings of the 2020 campaign has been three, which he accomplished against the Rays this past Monday while raising his ERA on the year to 3.60.

With that in mind, expect the righty to be more of an opener than a starter in what will be a bullpen game for Boston in the first of four against Gerrit Cole and the first-place Yankees.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI.

Jonathan Arauz’s Three-Hit Night Goes for Naught as Red Sox Come up Short in 8-7 Loss to Rays

In a back-and-forth nine-inning contest that took nearly four-and-a-half hours to complete, the Red Sox came up just short in an 8-7 loss at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night.

Ryan Brasier served as the opener for Boston in this one, and in doing so made his first career major-league start. The right-hander stranded two base runners and recorded one strikeout in a scoreless first inning. That was it for him.

From there, Colten Brewer was dispatched as the “bulk inning” guy out of the Red Sox bullpen to begin things in the second, and he surrendered three runs, two of which were earned, on five hits and two walks to go along with a pair of strikeouts on the night.

The first of those three Tampa Bay tallies scored off Brewer came on a Kevin Kiermaier RBI single in the top of the second that could have been a double had it not been for Kevin Pillar gunning the speedster down at second base in the same sequence. The other two runs were pushed across with one out in the fourth, when Brewer served up a two-run single to Michael Perez. Again, the damage could have been even worse since Perez himself nearly scored moments later, but was instead nabbed at the plate off an Austin Meadows double.

Marcus Walden was next up for the start of the fifth, and he managed to only record two outs while walking a pair and yielding one run on a Joey Wendle RBI triple.

Upon giving old friend Manuel Margot a free pass on four straight balls, the righty was given the hook by Sox manager Ron Roenicke in favor of left-hander Jeffrey Springs.

Springs, coming off back-to-back scoreless outings out of the Boston bullpen, regressed a bit on Monday in that he escaped the fifth inning unscathed, yet conceded three runs while only being able to record three more outs on 51 total pitches (34 strikes) before Roenicke had finally seen enough.

With no outs in the seventh, a runner on second, and his side in a 7-5 hole, the Sox skipper turned to Phillips Valdez, who was able to get out of that mess before allowing a run of his own to score on three straight two-out hits and a walk in the eighth.

That all set up the recently-recalled Dylan Covey for the top of the ninth, and in what was now an 8-7 contest, the right-hander faced the minimum three batters to keep the deficit at one run. Not like it mattered much in the end, but still a somewhat positive development.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar face in the form of Rays left-hander Ryan Yarbrough, who had just started against Boston back on August 5 at Tropicana Field.

This time around, the Sox bats got to Yarbrough early once more, with Xander Bogaerts, Michael Chavis, and Kevin Plawecki all coming through with back-to-back-to-back run-scoring plays in their half of the first. That early rally resulted in a 3-0 advantage for the home side.

In the third, J.D. Martinez, who had scored one of those runs in the first, followed an Alex Verdugo groundout by taking a 2-2, 84 mph cutter on the inner half of the plate from Yarbrough and crushing it 425 feet over everything in left field for his long-awaited first home run of the 2020 season. The solo shot put the Red Sox up 4-1 headed into the fourth.

Flash forward all the way to the sixth, after the Rays had bounced back to take a 5-4 lead, Chavis led things off against tight-hander Chaz Roe by lacing a double down the left field line and was promptly driven in by Plawecki on an RBI single. 5-5.

That stalemate did not last long though, as Tampa Bay jumped out to an 8-5 lead in their half of the eighth, which meant the Sox had more work to do on the offensive side of the ball. And that they did.

Down to their final two outs in the bottom half of the eighth inning, Jonathan Arauz came to the plate, already with the first and second hits of his major-league career under his belt, with the bases loaded and Jose Alvarado on the mound for the Rays.

After watching the first two pitches go by, the 22-year-old took a 97 mph slider on the outer half of the plate and ripped what would turn out to be a two-run single to an empty patch of grass in left-center field.

Arauz’s third hit of the night brought his team within one run of the Rays at 8-7. Alas, any shot at another rally fell short in the ninth, and 8-7 would go on to be Monday’s final score. What a doozy.

Some notes and observations from this loss:

From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

J.D. Martinez went 3-for-4 with that home run and one RBI on Monday. Kevin Plawecki also went 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the second game of this four-game set against the Rays on Tuesday night.

Left-hander Martin Perez will get the ball for Boston, while Andrew Kittredge, who picked up the save for the Rays on Monday, will open for Tampa Bay.

Perez put together five solid shutout innings in his last time out against the Rays at Tropicana Field on August 5. He’ll be going for his first home win of the season.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN+ and WEEI.

Red Sox Lineup: Ryan Brasier Set to Serve as Opener for Boston in First of Four Against Rays

As the Red Sox open up a four-game series against the Rays at Fenway Park to begin the week, Ryan Brasier will be making the first career start of his major-league career on Monday night, the club announced.

Brasier, who turns 33 later this month, will serve as the opener for the Sox against the Rays to kick off the new week before making way for Colten Brewer, who will serve as the “bulk inning guy.”

The right-hander out of Wichita Falls, Texas owns an ERA of 9.00 and an xFIP of 3.84 through his first five appearances and four innings pitched of the 2020 campaign.

As previously mentioned, Brasier has never made a start at the major-league level before, but he does have 38 career minor-league starts under his belt. Although, his most recent start came all the way back in 2015.

In his career against Tampa Bay, the former sixth-round pick of the Angels has yet to surrender a run over 12 outings and 12 1/3 innings of work, all while holding opponents to a .481 OPS against.

By rolling with Brasier here, the Red Sox will have already used eight different starting pitchers just 16 games into the season.

Here’s how the rest of the Red Sox will line up behind Brasier and against Rays left-hander Ryan Yarbrough, who got shelled for five runs over five innings pitched in his last time out against Boston on August 5:

Note how the left-handed bats of Andrew Benintendi, Mitch Moreland, and Rafael Devers are all absent here in favor of Kevin Pillar, who will be starting in right, Michael Chavis, and Jonathan Arauz, who is a switch-hitter.

Also worth mentioning, Kevin Plawecki is making his fourth start of the season behind the plate in favor of Christian Vazquez.

Among these nine hitters, J.D. Martinez has seen Yarbrough the best, as the Sox DH is a lifetime .636 (7-for-11) hitter off the Rays southpaw to go along with one home run and two RBI.

On top of that, both Chavis and Alex Verdugo took Yarbrough deep at Tropicana Field last Wednesday.

First pitch against Tampa Bay Monday night is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox going for their second straight win.

Mitch Moreland Comes Through With Two Homers, Walks It off for Red Sox in Series-Clinching 5-3 Victory Over Blue Jays

For the first time in nearly a full calendar year, the Red Sox have won a series at home following a 4-3, walk-off victory over the Blue Jays at Fenway Park on Sunday.

Nathan Eovaldi made his fourth start of the season for Boston to close out the weekend, and he had a nice bounce-back outing coming off a somewhat rough go of things in Tampa Bay last week.

Working six innings on Sunday, the right-hander surrendered three runs, all of which were earned, on six hits and zero walks to go along with 10 strikeouts on the afternoon to tie a career-high.

All three Toronto tallies yielded by Eovaldi were driven in by the sons of former major-leaguers, with Cavan Biggio lifting a two-out solo shot in the third, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. plating Teoscar Hernandez on a two-out RBI single in the fourth, and Bo Bichette crushing a solo homer of his own to lead things off in the sixth.

Other than those mishaps, Eovaldi was fairly effective, missed plenty of bats, and escaped the top half of the sixth inning without giving anything else up to end his day on a more positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 91 (63 strikes), the 30-year-old flamethrower turned to his vaunted four-seam fastball 40% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing four swings-and-misses and topping out at 100.2 mph with the pitch.

Hit with the no-decision while raising his ERA on the year to 4.09, Eovaldi will look to build on this start in his next time out, which should come against the Yankees in the Bronx this coming Friday.

In relief of Eovaldi, left-hander Josh Osich got the call to begin things in the seventh, and he got the first two outs of the frame before a two-out walk of Biggio resulted in Sox manager Ron Roenicke turning to Austin Brice with the dangerous Bichette due up next.

As Roenicke had intended, Brice got the Blue Jays shortstop to ground into an inning-ending forceout, and then proceeded to punch out the side in the eighth on 17 pitches.

From there, Matt Barnes kept a 3-3 tie intact during a two-strikeout top of the ninth, and he would later be credited with his first winning decision of 2020 because of it.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against yet another veteran right-hander for the Blue Jays in the form of ex-Angels hurler Matt Shoemaker.

Mitch Moreland, who had faced Shoemaker seven times in his career before Sunday, got the scoring started for Boston with a 414-foot solo home run with one out in the second inning.

In the third, the Sox took advantage of sloppy defense from Shoemaker when Jackie Bradley Jr. led the inning off with a single, advanced to second on a Tzu-Wei Lin sacrifice bunt, and came around to score when the Toronto starter misfielded a soft grounder off the bat of Alex Verdugo. That bizarre sequence made it a 2-1 contest in favor of the home side.

Fast forward all the way to the sixth, another left-handed hitter got the best of Shoemaker, this time with Rafael Devers busting out of a cold spell and tying this one up at three runs apiece with a 449-foot blast to dead center coming off a first-pitch, 92 mph sinker on the inner half of the plate. The 23-year-old’s first Fenway big fly of 2020.

And in the ninth, a two-out walk drawn by Xander Bogaerts off Jays reliever Thomas Hatch brought Moreland to the plate for a fourth time. And with the chance to win this one, the 34-year-old did not waste anytime, as he swung at the first pitch he saw from the opposing right-hander and deposited an 86 mph slider well over the Green Monster to walk it off.

Moreland’s second long ball of the day and third of the weekend put the Red Sox up 5-3, which would of course go on to be Sunday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this walk-off victory: 

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Mitch Moreland’s last seven games: 7-for-21 (.333) with four homers and nine RBI.

From The Providence Journal’s Bill Koch:

Red Sox pitchers faced 35 Blue Jays hitters on Sunday. They struck out 15 of them.

Look at Rafael Devers, man.

Now a quarter of the way through the truncated season, the Red Sox are a not-so-nice 6-9 on the season. The homestand rolls on with the first of four against the Rays on Monday night.

Ron Roenicke has yet to name a starter for the series opener, but Tampa Bay will go with left-hander Ryan Yarbrough, who surrendered five runs over five innings his last time out against Boston on August 5.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking for their second straight win.

Red Sox Waste Big Offensive Nights From Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers in Soul-Crushing 9-7 Loss to Yankees

In their highest-scoring game since Opening Day, the Red Sox still found a way to lose to the Yankees on Sunday night, as they fell to the Bronx Bombers by a final score of 9-7 and were unable to avoid getting swept by their division rivals.

Utilizing the opener strategy in this one, the Sox first turned to right-hander Austin Brice on Sunday, who was technically making his first career major-league start although he only pitched a scoreless first inning while walking two and striking out the side.

From there, left-hander Matt Hall, who served as an opener for Boston last week, had a tougher time of things from the middle of the second on. That being the case because the 27-year-old served up a three-run blast to Aaron Judge in his first frame of work and back-to-back, two-out RBI doubles to Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela in his second.

Heath Hembree was next up, and after tossing a perfect bottom of the fourth, the veteran righty got taken deep by Luke Voit on a two-out solo shot in the fifth. At the time, Voit’s homer pulled the Yankees back even with the Sox at 6-6.

The Boston offense was able to tack on another run in between Marcus Walden’s two shutout frames of relief in the sixth and seventh, but things took a turn for the worse for the Red Sox bullpen in the bottom of the eighth.

There, Matt Barnes entered with his side up one run at 7-6, got the first two outs of the inning rather easily, and then walked Mike Tauchman, the Yankees’ No. 9 hitter, on five pitches.

As the saying goes, “walks will haunt,” and that walk certainly would come back to haunt Barnes later on.

With New York’s lineup turning back over, Tauchman took off for second base with D.J. LeMahieu at the plate and got to the bag safely. Having to deal with a runner in scoring position now, Barnes couldn’t sneak a 2-2, 96 mph fastball past the Yankees second baseman and instead gave up a game-tying, run-scoring single back up the middle. 7-7.

It would have been one thing if Barnes managed to escape the eighth with the 7-7 stalemate still intact, but the ever-dangerous Judge had other ideas in mind.

Arguably the girthiest No. 2 hitter in baseball, the Yankees slugger took a 2-0, hanging 84 mph curveball from Barnes and deposited it 468(!) feet to the bleachers in left field.

That soul-crushing missile of a two-run home run put the Yanks up 9-7, which would ultimately go on to be Sunday’s final score as Barnes was hit with his first loss and blown save of the season.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against another familiar foe in the form of Yankees southpaw James Paxton.

With the Canadian-born Paxton on the hill, the Boston bats actually got on the board in the first inning for the first time all weekend when after J.D. Martinez reached base on a two-out double that could have been caught, Xander Bogaerts crushed his second big fly of the season 386 feet to right-center field to put his side up two early on.

In the third, more damage off Paxton came when Kevin Pillar led things off with a ground-rule double and came around to score moments later on a Rafael Devers RBI base knock to right.

A Martinez strikeout followed by consecutive one-out, run-scoring singles off the bats of Bogaerts and Christian Vazquez brought in two more runs, and the Red Sox had themselves a 5-3 lead just like that.

Fast forward to the fifth, and Bogaerts struck once more, this time taking Yankees reliever Michael King 437 feet to left-center field for his second dinger of the evening. 6-5 Boston.

And in the seventh, it was Devers’ turn to put his pull-side power on display, as he watched King hang a 2-1, hanging changeup on the inner half of the plate and proceeded to send it all the way to the right field bleachers, or more specifically, 427 feet away from home plate.

Devers’ long-awaited first long ball of the new season looked to be the all-important go-ahead hit in this one as it put the Sox up by one run at 7-6. A las, as previously mentioned, the Yankees staged a rather soul-crushing comeback in their half of the eighth, and 9-7 would go on to be your final score. Red Sox get swept.

Some notes and observations from this loss:

The Red Sox are 3-7 through their first 10 games of 2020.

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Despite the loss, Rafael Devers had an impressive night on both sides of the ball.

10 games into the season, the Red Sox have one of the worst records in baseball. Not great! It’s not a total surprise, but it’s still not great!

Anyway, the Sox have an off day on Monday before opening up a rare two-game set against the Rays in St. Petersburg on Tuesday.

Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi and left-hander Martin Perez are slated to start for Boston, while right-hander Charlie Morton and left-hander Ryan Yarbrough are lined up to do the same for Tampa Bay.

This will be the first of two trips to St. Pete for the Sox this season. They won 60% of their games at Tropicana Field in 2019.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Enjoy the off day.

Austin Brice to Make First Career Start for Red Sox in Series Finale Against Yankees

Right-hander Austin Brice will make his first career major-league start for the Red Sox against the Yankees on Sunday night, manager Ron Roenicke announced following Saturday’s 5-2 defeat in the Bronx.

This announcement comes as the No. 5 spot in the Red Sox’ starting rotation is due up next. Last time through, left-hander Josh Osich served as the opener out of the No. 4 spot this past Monday, while fellow southpaw Matt Hall was lined up to be more of a traditional starter in the No. 5 spot, but only lasted 2 2/3 innings against the Mets this past Tuesday.

Now, as Boston is about to complete their second turn through the rotation, it will be the 28-year-old Brice getting the call to open against the vaunted Yankees to close out the weekend.

Originally acquired by the Sox in a minor trade with the Marlins back in January, Brice has never started a game at the major-league level since making his debut with Miami in 2016. However, the former ninth-round draft pick out of high school in 2010 has made 114 career starts at the minor-league level.

The last time Brice was a full-time starter was during the 2015 season, when in 25 outings and 125 1/3 innings pitched with Double-A Jacksonville, the North Carolina native who was actually born in Hong Kong posted a 4.67 ERA and 4.19 xFIP, per FanGraphs.

According to Roenicke, the plan is to have Brice go the first one or two innings on Sunday before dispatching up to six to seven relievers rather than a “bulk-inning guy.” This comes as the Red Sox have an off day in Tampa Bay following Sunday’s series finale against New York.

“We will see where we are. But the bulk-inning guy, if we’re scoring runs and it’s tight, probably won’t be as long as what we normally do,” Roenicke told reporters Saturday. “I think that off day the next day (Monday) certainly helps us to bring in some of the guys to keep it tighter instead of going maybe three or four innings with somebody.”

In what will be his first start and fifth overall appearance as a member of the Red Sox, Brice will enter Sunday’s contest with a 7.71 ERA and 7.81 FIP through his first 4 2/3 innings pitched of 2020.

Reintroducing Red Sox Left-Hander Matt Hall

You probably haven’t heard much about Matt Hall since the Red Sox acquired him from the Tigers in January, but the left-hander has a chance to be a key cog in Boston’s bullpen this season.

After Hall finished his three innings of work while striking out five in Monday morning’s intrasquad game which was more of a simulated game/live batting practice session, Sox manager Ron Roenicke seemed pleased with the 26-year-old’s efforts when speaking to reporters via Zoom.

“Matt Hall,” Roenicke said. “Matt is one of those guys… He looked really good today.”

On what he specifically liked about Hall’s outing, Roenicke mentioned the lefty’s curveball, which Hall himself has said is his best pitch.

“We know he’s got a good curveball, and he showed that today,” said the Sox skipper. “Talking to our hitters commenting on the curveball, that is a real nice weapon he has. And he threw the fastball well. He kind of cuts it in on right-handers. I was really impressed with him today.”

As noted by The Providence Journal’s Bill Koch, “Hall’s high fastball and curveball start in the same tunnel – up and away from right-handers, high and tight to left-handers – and appear capable of causing some confusion if he commands them,” which can somewhat be seen in the accompanying video:

Roenicke added that the Red Sox view Hall, a product of Missouri State, as someone who could provide the club with multiple innings out of the bullpen, and he seems best suited for the “bulk-inning guy” role, or the pitcher who comes in after the opener, which Boston will likely employ seeing how thin their starting rotation currently is. Colten Brewer and Marcus Walden are among the candidates for that particular role.

As for Hall, the six-foot, 200 lb. southpaw was originally drafted by Detroit in the sixth round of the 2015 amateur draft. The Tigers designated him for assignment over the winter after a disappointing 2019 campaign in which he posted 7.71 ERA over 16 appearances and 23 1/3 innings pitched.

On January 17, Hall was dealt to Boston in exchange for minor-league catcher Jhon Nunez.

Flash forward nearly six months later, and Matt Hall should certainly be someone to keep an eye on as the 2020 season nears.

Red Sox Free Agency Targets: Collin McHugh

It’s pretty late to do being one of these with spring training well underway and less than a month ago until Opening Day, but with the news that ace left-hander Chris Sale will start the 2020 season on the injured list, the Red Sox find themselves in need of starting pitching help.

With the news of Sale starting the year on the shelf, in addition to trading David Price to the Dodgers earlier in the month, the Sox’ starting rotation only has three established starting pitchers at the moment in Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi, and Martin Perez.

Guys like Brian Johnson and Hector Velazquez could fill in in either the No. 4 or No. 5 spots, and it also appears likely that an opener or two could be used, but that shouldn’t stop chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom from looking at external options as well.

Obviously, with it being the last day of February and all, the free-agent market has essentially been thinned out, but there is still one intriguing name out there in former Astros right-hander Collin McHugh.

According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, the 32-year-old has “recently been given the go-ahead to begin throwing after a [non-surgical] tenex procedure alleviated an elbow concern” and “nearly every team has checked in” on him thanks to his versatility.

Appearing in 35 games, eight of which were starts, for Houston last year, McHugh posted a 4.70 ERA and 4.34 xFIP over 74 2/3 total innings of work while dealing with ongoing right elbow discomfort.

His days of pitching anywhere between 150 to 200 innings in a season are probably behind him and he likely wouldn’t be ready for the start of the 2020 season if he were to sign soon, but there are still plenty of things working in McHugh’s favor.

First off, there’s the versatility piece I mentioned earlier. Maybe it’s just me, but I could see McHugh starting, serving as an opener, or working in relief once he gets up to speed with whatever club he signs with this year.

Second, he probably won’t be demanding much as a free agent. A one-year deal for cheap or even a minor-league deal could get it done. That way, if things didn’t work out, it would not be all that costly to cut ties.

Per MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, the Red Sox now have a little more than $13 million in payroll flexibility to work with before reaching that $208 million luxury tax threshold they got under by dealing Price and Mookie Betts to Los Angeles.

McHugh would surely not command more than 25% of that $13 million as a free agent, so the rewards in this case would far outweigh the risks, in my opinion.

Outside of McHugh, free agent starting pitchers who remain unsigned include old friends Clay Buccholz and Andrew Cashner, Jason Vargas, Clayton Richard, and Marco Estrada.

Travis Lakins Would Be Intriguing Option to Open Games for Red Sox in 2020

As things stand headed into the new year, the Red Sox have five viable options to make up their starting rotation next season in Chris Sale, David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi, and the recently-signed Martin Perez.

However, with it looking more and more likely that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom will eventually trade Price away to a club like the Los Angeles Dodgers or St. Louis Cardinals, a hole in that rotation may open yet again.

Because of that possibility, it’s not all that ridiculous to think that the Sox could pursue using an opener in 2020 if they do not add another starting pitcher. Remember, Bloom was at the helm in Tampa when the Rays began employing the opener strategy in 2018.

Going off what The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey said in a predictions piece last week, Boston would be more prepared to implement an opener next season than they were this past one, when they had to turn to the strategy out of necessity due to injuries.

With that, right-hander Travis Lakins presents one potential name who could fill that opener role for the Sox come the spring.

In 16 appearances, three of which were starts, in 2019, the 25-year-old rookie posted a 3.86 ERA and 5.22 xFIP over 23 1/3 innings of work spanning five stints with the big-league club.

A 5.22 xFIP in the majors is certainly nothing to write home about, but when you narrow Lakins’ numbers down to when he appeared as an opener for the first time on September 7th against the Yankees, the results improve greatly to the tune of a 2.25 ERA, a 4.45 xFIP, and a .650 OPS against over six outings (three starts) and eight innings pitched.

It’s a small sample size, sure, but if Bloom and Co. are going to be looking for a creative way to fill Price’s spot in the starting rotation once he is eventually dealt, Lakins certainly checks that box.