Red Sox lose Austin Davis on waivers to Twins

Two days after designating him for assignment, the Red Sox have lost left-hander Austin Davis on waivers to the Twins, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Davis and fellow reliever Hirokazu Sawamura were both officially designated for assignment on Monday, allowing Boston to call up right-handers Zack Kelly and Kaleb Ort from Triple-A Worcester in order to bolster a struggling bullpen.

The Red Sox originally acquired Davis from the Pirates in exchange for infielder Michael Chavis ahead of last July’s trade deadline. The 29-year-old southpaw made 19 relief appearances for Boston down the stretch last season and unsurprisingly made the Opening Day roster earlier this spring.

To begin his first full season with the Sox, Davis got off to a promising start by posting a 2.16 ERA and 3.45 FIP with 36 strikeouts to 16 walks over 31 outings (two starts) spanning 33 1/3 innings of work through July 7. He put up those numbers while holding opposing hitters to a .202/.309/.294 slash line against.

From that point forward, however, Davis’ season took a turn for the worst. The 6-foot-4, 235-pound lefty struggled to the tune of a 10.71 ERA and 4.74 FIP to go along with 25 strikeouts to 13 walks across his next 19 appearances (one start) and 21 innings pitched. Not even shaving his beard could prevent him from surrendering four runs (two earned) to the Rays in Sunday’s 12-4 loss at Fenway Park.

That would prove to be Davis’ final appearance in a Red Sox uniform. The Arizona native is out of minor-league options, meaning the club had no choice but to designate him for assignment in order to remove him from the roster. Teams have until 11:59 p.m. eastern time on Wednesday to add postseason-eligible players to their roster, so it now appears as though Davis could be part of Minnesota’s October plans if the Twins make it that far.

With that being said, it should be interesting to see if Davis makes his Twins debut in Wednesday’s series finale against the Red Sox at Target Field.

(Picture of Austin Davis: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Matt Strahm likely to be activated from injured list for Friday’s series opener against Orioles, Alex Cora says

UPDATE: Strahm told The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier he expected to be activated before Friday’s series opener against the Orioles in Baltimore. A corresponding roster move will need to be made.

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There is a “good chance” Red Sox reliever Matt Strahm returns from the injured list and joins the team in Pittsburgh on Thursday, manager Alex Cora told reporters (including The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham) prior to Wednesday’s game against the Pirates.

Strahm has been sidelined since July 12. That night, the left-hander took a 98 mph line drive off his throwing hand from Taylor Walls in the sixth inning of a 3-2 loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field. He was immediately removed from the game and was later diagnosed with a left wrist contusion, though x-rays did come back negative.

Three days later, Strahm was placed on the 15-day injured list (retroactive to July 13) with said contusion. The 30-year-old southpaw began throwing again earlier this month and was sent out on a brief rehab assignment with Triple-A Worcester on Tuesday night.

In what will likely be his lone appearance for the WooSox, Strahm struck out one of the three batters he faced in a scoreless sixth inning against the Rochester Red Wings at Polar Park. He needed just 14 pitches (9 strikes) to get through the perfect frame and was hovering around 94-95 mph with his fastball, per Cora.

Signed to a one-year, $3 million deal back in March, Strahm has posted a 3.58 ERA and 2.61 FIP to go along with 32 strikeouts to seven walks over 33 relief appearances spanning 27 2/3 innings of work for Boston.

Strahm’s return would be a welcomed one for the Red Sox. As things stand currently, Austin Davis is the only active lefty in Boston’s bullpen. Davis owns an ERA of 13.15 in his last 15 outings dating back to July 8.

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

Red Sox sign former All-Star closer Jeurys Familia to minor-league deal

In addition to Sterling Sharp, the Red Sox have also signed veteran reliever Jeurys Familia to a minor-league contract, as was first reported by the Worcester Telegram & Gazette’s Joe McDonald.

Familia, 32, has been assigned to Triple-A Worcester. The right-hander was designated for assignment (and subsequently released) by the Phillies last week after signing a one-year, $6 million deal with the club back in March.

In 38 relief appearances for Philadelphia, Familia posted a dismal 6.09 ERA and 4.88 FIP to go along with 33 strikeouts to 15 walks over 34 innings of work. That includes an ERA of 9.00 across 15 innings dating back to the start of June.

According to Baseball Savant, Familia currently ranks in the bottom one percent of Major League Baseball in hard-hit rate (48.6%), the bottom 11 percent in barrel rate (10.1%), and the bottom 12 percent in average exit velocity (90.3 mph).

Once an All-Star closer and National League MVP vote-getter in 2016, Familia owns a lifetime 3.46 ERA and 3.53 FIP in 537 career outings (532 2/3 innings) between the Mets (2012-2018, 2019-2021), Athletics (2018), and Phillies (2022). The native Dominican works with a four-pitch mix that includes a sinker, a four-seamer, a slider, and a splitter.

Before the MLB lockout began last December, WEEI’s Rob Bradford reported that the Red Sox had expressed interest in Familia as a free-agent, though nothing came to fruition then.

Now, Familia will look to provide Boston with bullpen depth while with the WooSox. The righty becomes the latest veteran the Red Sox have added to their group in Worcester, as he joins the likes of Jose Peraza, Abraham Almonte, and — at some point in the near future — Danny Santana.

(Picture of Jeurys Familia: Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Red Sox relief prospect Ryan Fernandez has struck out 40 percent of the batters he has faced since earning promotion to Double-A Portland

Red Sox relief prospect Ryan Fernandez needed just 24 pitches — 19 of which were strikes — to toss two scoreless innings and wrap up a 9-4 win for the Portland Sea Dogs over the Hartford Yard Goats at Dunkin’ Donuts Park on Wednesday night.

Since earning a promotion from High-A Greenville to Double-A Portland on July 3, Fernandez has made eight relief appearances for the Sea Dogs. The right-hander has posted a 3.60 ERA and 3.43 FIP with 16 strikeouts to just two walks over 10 innings of work in those outings.

Prior to making the jump to Double-A, Fernandez began the 2022 season in Greenville and pitched to a 4.00 ERA (but more respectable 3.19 FIP) with 40 punchouts to nine walks across 25 appearances spanning 27 innings of relief for the Drive.

So, between the two levels to this point in the season, the 24-year-old has produced a 3.89 ERA and 3.25 FIP while recording 56 strikeouts and issuing 11 walks over 33 relief appearances (37 total innings). He has also converted 10 of a possible 13 save opportunities.

To put that all into perspective: Among the 57 pitchers in the Red Sox farm system who have thrown at least 30 innings coming into play on Thursday, Fernandez ranks second in strikeouts per nine innings (13.62), 12th in walks per nine innings (2.68), first in strikeout rate (35.9%), third in swinging strike rate (20.8%), 12th in walk rate (7.1%), 10th in groundball rate (52.3%), 13th in FIP, and third in xFIP (2.74), per FanGraphs.

The Red Sox originally selected Fernandez in the 23rd round of the 2018 amateur draft out of Hillsborough Community College in Plant City, Fla. The Tampa native signed with the club for $125,000 and made his professional debut in the Gulf Coast League.

Despite the amount of success he has enjoyed so far this season, Fernandez has not yet caught the attention of any industry publications to the point where is ranked as one of the top 30 or so prospects in Boston’s farm system.

Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, the 6-foot, 170-pound hurler throws from a three-quarters arm slot and operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a 96-98 mph fastball that tops out at 99 mph, a 90-92 mph cutter with a high spin rate, and an 87-89 mph slider.

Fernandez, who does not turn 25 until next June, can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter if he is left off the Red Sox’ 40-man roster in November. With that being said, it would not be too surprising if Boston has Fernandez pitch in the Arizona Fall League later this year so that it may further evaluate him.

Having Fernandez pitch in Arizona this fall would also give other clubs the opportunity to see the Florida-born righty in-person.

(Picture of Ryan Fernandez: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox promote Michael Gettys to Double-A Portland

The Red Sox have promoted converted reliever Michael Gettys from High-A Greenville to Double-A Portland, per the team’s minor-league transactions log.

Gettys, 26, has posted a 3.34 ERA and 4.37 FIP to go along with 23 strikeouts to seven walks over 22 relief appearances (29 2/3 innings pitched) for the Drive this season. The right-hander last gave up an earned run on June 12.

Among South Atlantic League pitchers who have accrued at least 20 innings on the mound, Gettys currently ranks 19th in walks per nine innings (2.12), 14th in walk rate (5.4%), and 53rd in ERA, per FanGraphs.

An outfielder by trade, Gettys was originally selected by the Padres in the second round of the 2014 amateur draft out of Gainesville (Ga.) High School. The Georgia native was once regarded as a highly-touted prospect and spent the first seven seasons of his professional career with San Diego before becoming a minor-league free-agent at the conclusion of the 2020 campaign.

That November, Gettys inked a minors pact with the Red Sox and broke camp with Triple-A Worcester the following spring. The right-handed hitter saw playing time at all three outfield positions for the WooSox but could never really get it going at the plate as he sputtered along to a .201/.271/.349 slash line in 46 games.

After spending a good portion of last August on the development list, Gettys made his professional debut as a pitcher in the Florida Complex League on Aug. 31. The 6-foot-1, 217-pound hurler made five appearances for Boston’s rookie-level affiliate and really has not looked back since.

Gettys became a minor-league free-agent again in November but only spent 10 days on the open market before officially re-signing with the Red Sox on Nov. 17.

He now becomes the latest pitcher within the organization to make the jump from Greenville to Portland this season, joining fellow righties Ryan Fernandez and Brian Van Belle. It seems as though Gettys is taking the roster spot of left-hander Jay Groome, who was promoted to Triple-A Worcester on Thursday.

(Picture of Michael Gettys: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

With recent promotions of Franklin German and A.J. Politi, Red Sox relief prospect Chase Shugart could take on larger role in Double-A Portland’s bullpen

Red Sox pitching prospect Chase Shugart picked up his third save of the season in Double-A Portland’s 2-1 win over the Somerset Patriots at Hadlock Field on Tuesday afternoon.

Taking the mound for the ninth inning, Shugart worked his way around a leadoff walk by retiring the next three batters he faced in order to secure Portland’s 20th win of the season. 13 of the 21 pitches he threw went for strikes.

In 14 appearances out of the Sea Dogs’ bullpen this year, the right-hander has posted a 2.25 ERA and 4.01 FIP to go along with 20 strikeouts to seven walks over 20 innings of work. In the month of May, he has allowed just one earned run over his last 10 1/3 innings pitched.

Among pitches in the Eastern League with at least 20 innings under their belt to this point in the season, Shugart ranks 20th in batting average against (.194), 22nd in WHIP (1.05), 16th in ERA, and 20th in xFIP (3.57), per FanGraphs.

Shugart, 25, began his professional career as a starter after being selected by the Red Sox in the 12th round of the 2018 amateur draft out of the University of Texas at Austin. The former Longhorn had prior experience as a reliever in college, but did not return to that role until this past winter.

Pitching out of the bullpen for Indios de Mayaguez of the Puerto Rican Winter League, Shugart yielded just two runs on five hits, two walks, and nine strikeouts across five appearances spanning 6 1/3 innings. He took what he gained from his time in Puerto Rico and impressed the Red Sox during the team’s Winter Warm-Up program in Fort Myers back in January.

At that point in time, the club essentially decided that Shugart would be a full-time reliever moving forward, and it certainly seems as though the native Texan has embraced that opportunity so far.

Coming into play on Wednesday, Shugart leads the Sea Dogs’ pitching staff in appearances while also ranking first among relievers in number of innings pitched.

Portland has seen its bullpen composition change up a bit as of late, as a pair of other right-handers — Franklin German and A.J. Politi — recently earned promotions to Triple-A Worcester. Taking this into consideration, Shugart should figure to play an even larger role for the Sea Dogs moving forward.

Listed at 5-foot-10 and 198 pounds, Shugart is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 51 prospect in Boston’s farm system. Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, the righty operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a 93-95 mph fastball that tops out at 97 mph, a 74-80 mph curveball, an 81-84 mph slider, and an 84-87 mph changeup.

Shugart, who turns 26 in October, can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this December if he is not added to the Red Sox’ 40-man roster by the November deadline.

(Picture of Chase Shugart: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox promote hard-throwing relief prospect Franklin German to Triple-A Worcester

The Red Sox have promoted relief prospect Franklin German from Double-A Portland to Triple-A Worcester, per the team’s transaction log.

German, 24, has posted a 3.18 ERA and 2.21 FIP with 18 strikeouts to three walks over 11 relief appearances spanning 11 1/3 innings of work out of Portland’s bullpen this season. The right-hander’s sixth and seventh outings of the year were separated by more than two weeks (April 26 to May 13) due to a non-baseball related issue.

Among Eastern League pitchers who have accrued at least 10 innings on the mound in 2022, German ranks 15th in strikeouts per nine innings (14.29), 11th in strikeout rate (39.1%), 13th in swinging strike rate (18.6%), 21st in batting average against (.154), 11th in WHIP (0.79), and 17th in FIP, per FanGraphs.

Originally selected by the Yankees in the fourth round of the 2018 amateur draft out of the University of North Florida, German was dealt to the Red Sox in the same trade that sent veteran reliever Adam Ottavino to Boston last January.

Traditionally a starting pitcher throughout his professional career to that point, German opened the 2021 campaign in Portland’s starting rotation. But he struggled to the tune of a 5.45 ERA across his first 19 appearances (18 starts) of the season before moving to the Sea Dogs’ bullpen on a full-time basis in late August.

Since then, German has found success as a reliever that can mainly be attributed to an uptick in velocity. Last year, the 6-foot-2, 195 pound righty sat in the low-to-mid 90s as a starter. Upon transitioning to the ‘pen, he began reaching 97-98 mph while topping out at 99-102 mph with his fastball.

Because of this, German has caught the attention of Alex Cora and is firmly on the Red Sox manager’s “watchlist,” according to The Athletic’s Peter Gammons.

German, who turns 25 in September, is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 30 prospect in Boston’s farm system. In addition to his high-octane fastball, the hard-throwing hurler also works with a changeup and slider.

By being promoted to Triple-A, German will join a WooSox bullpen that includes the likes of Eduard Bazardo, Silvino Bracho, Ryan Brasier, Taylor Cole, Michael Feliz, Durbin Feltman, Geoff Hartlieb, Zack Kelly, Kaleb Ort, A.J. Politi (who was promoted last week), and Phillips Valdez.

German’s promotion comes at an interesting time when you consider the fact that he can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter. The Red Sox would need to add him to their 40-man roster by the November deadline in order to proect him, so they could be using this as an opportunity to give German an extended look at the next level before making a decision regarding his future.

(Picture of Franklin German: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox relief prospect A.J. Politi continues to impress out of the bullpen with Double-A Portland

Red Sox relief prospect A.J. Politi picked up his third save of the season in Double-A Portland’s 4-0 victory over the Hartford Yard Goats on Wednesday night.

Politi, 25, recorded the final four outs of Wednesday’s contest at Dunkin’ Donuts Park while allowing one hit and one walk to go along with three strikeouts on 25 pitches — 15 of which were strikes.

Through 10 relief appearances for the Sea Dogs this year, the right-hander has posted a miniscule 1.50 ERA and 2.76 FIP with 18 strikeouts to just three walks over 12 innings of work.

Among Eastern League pitchers who have accrued at least 10 innings to this point in the season, Politi ranks tied for 15th in strikeouts per nine innings (13.5), tied for 21st in walks per nine innings (2.25), tied for 13th in strikeout rate (38.3%), 20th in swinging strike rate (17.4%), tied for 22nd in walk rate (6.4%), 20th in batting average against (.143), tied four fourth in WHIP (0.75), tied for 20th in ERA, 29th in FIP, and 10th in xFIP (2.43), per FanGraphs.

Originally selected by the Red Sox in the 15th round of the 2018 amateur draft out of Seton Hall University, Politi has been used as both a starter and reliever throughout his professional career.

Last year, for instance, the New Jersey native opened the 2021 season in Portland’s starting rotation but struggled to the tune of a 7.01 ERA over 15 starts spanning 61 2/3 innings. He was moved to the Sea Dogs’ bullpen on a full-time basis in September, made 11 relief appearances for the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League, and really has not looked back since.

Listed at 6-feet and 195 pounds, Politi operates with a max-effort delivery and works with four different pitches: a mid-90s fastball, a high-80s slider, a lower-80s curveball, and a changeup. His fastball is his best pitch.

Politi, who turns 26 next month, is currently regarded by FanGraphs as the No. 46 prospect and by SoxProspects.com as the No. 54 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Given his age, it seems like Politi should be primed for a mid-season promotion to Triple-A Worcester if he keeps pitching the way he has been for Portland. The righty can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter and could be a prime relief target for other clubs if he is not added to the Red Sox’ 40-man roster by the November deadline.

(Picture of A.J. Politi: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox relief prospect Jacob Webb has struck out 24 of the first 56 batters he has faced with Low-A Salem this season

Red Sox relief prospect Jacob Webb picked up his second save of the season in Low-A Salem’s 1-0 win over the Delmarva Shorebirds on Tuesday afternoon.

Getting the call for the ninth inning, Webb needed just nine pitches — seven of which were strikes — to retire the side in order while also recording two punchouts.

Through 10 relief appearances for Salem this year, the right-hander has posted a 2.84 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, and .191/.321/.234 slash line against to go along with 24 strikeouts to eight walks over 12 2/3 innings of work. In other words, he has struck out nearly 43% of the batters he has faced thus far, but is doing so while issuing walks at a 14.3% clip.

Webb, 23, was taken by the Red Sox in the 14th round of last year’s amateur draft out of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. The Dayton-area native signed with Boston for $122,500 and made his professional debut in the Florida Complex League that August.

After just two outings in the FCL, Webb earned a promotion to Salem and has since produced a 1.99 ERA in 16 cumulative appearances (22 2/3 innings pitched) for the Sox’ Low-A affiliate.

Listed at 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, Webb is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 56 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks 24th among pitchers in the organization. Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, the righty throws from a low three-quarters arm slot and operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a 92-94 mph fastball, an 81-85 mph slider, and a rarely-used changeup.

If Webb, who does not turn 24 until next March, can continue to string together impressive outings out of the bullpen for Salem, then another promotion to High-A Greenville at some point this summer would certainly seem to be within his grasp.

(Picture of Jacob Webb: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox’ Josh Taylor suffers setback while rehabbing from back strain

Red Sox reliever Josh Taylor suffered a setback while rehabbing his back injury and has been temporarily shut down from throwing, manager Alex Cora announced before Tuesday’s game against the Angels at Fenway Park.

Taylor, who had been out on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Worcester, is back with the Red Sox to receive treatment and undergo tests in Boston.

When speaking with reporters (including MassLive.com’s Cotillo) on Tuesday, Cora revealed that Taylor’s back locked up on him recently, leaving the team with no choice but to return him from his rehab assignment.

“He had a setback a few days ago,” Cora said. “Feels better today, but of course, we had to take him off his rehab assignment. We’re going through testing and all that stuff. We’ll know more during the week.”

Taylor began the season on the 10-day injured list due to a low back strain that first began bothering him last September and was first sent out on a rehab assignment with Worcester on April 17. The left-hander got the start for the WooSox against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at Polar Park that afternoon and allowed one run (on a solo home run) in his lone inning of work. He was then shut down for the next six days after being identified as a close contact to someone who had tested positive for COVID-19.

On April 24, Taylor returned to the mound — this time for Double-A Portland — and once again served as an opener. The 29-year-old surrendered two runs on three hits and one strikeout while recording the first two outs of the Sea Dogs’ 13-5 win over the Binghamton Rumble Ponies at Hadlock Field. Three days later, he was back in action for the WooSox and tossed a scoreless fifth inning in the second game of a doubleheader against the Buffalo Bisons.

Since then, Taylor has not appeared in a game and is not close to doing so anytime soon. As noted by Cotillo, Cora previously said the hope was for Taylor to make five or six rehab outings before being activated, so the southpaw will presumably need to start from scratch once he is cleared to resume throwing.

“Let’s see how it goes in the upcoming days and how it goes with testing and all that stuff,” said Cora. “Then we’ll decide what we do with him.”

(Picture of Josh Taylor: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)