Matt Barnes Not Only Reliever Who Could Close Out Games for Red Sox Following Brandon Workman Trade, Ron Roenicke Says

With Heath Hembree and Brandon Workman now Philadelphia Phillies, a couple late-inning spots just opened up in the back end of the Red Sox bullpen. More specifically, with Workman gone, the Sox do not exactly have a set closer at this point in time.

Right-hander Matt Barnes took charge of that responsibility in Boston’s 8-5 win over the Orioles on Friday and he looked good doing so, needing just 13 pitches to record his first save since last June.

Even with Barnes’ impressive importance fresh in his mind, Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke didn’t really commit to the 30-year-old hurler as his set ninth-inning man moving forward.

“No doubt, I have faith in what he can do,” Roenicke said of Barnes during his postgame media availability. “I probably won’t do it the same way that we did with [Workman] because we had Barnes for the seventh or eighth or somebody and then going to [Workman]. This will be a little bit different, probably. I’m sure [Barnes] will get most of the opportunities, but if it matches up better with him in the eighth inning and another closer in the ninth, we’ll do that. I don’t think I’m just going to limit him to doing it for one inning.”

If it’s Barnes getting the call for the ninth, Roenicke named Austin Brice and Josh Taylor as relievers who could close out games if necassary.

“I think we have a couple guys that could do it,” the Sox skipper added. “I’m comfortable with all of them, so I think the match-ups will tell us what to do there.”

Left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez, who worked two scoreless innings in his 2020 debut on Friday after missing time on the COVID-19 related injured list, could be another candidate to close were it not for the plans the Red Sox have for the 23-year-old hurler.

“The only thing with Darwinzon is because we know he can give us two or three [innings], it may be more important to do that in the…sixth, seventh, or eighth, maybe,” said Roenicke. “I think he is more valuable in doing that than just keeping him to one inning. We’ll see as time goes on, but he was coming out [Friday] for the first time. He threw some nasty pitches. I know sometimes he may get a little wild, but his pitches, you see the swings they take and the bats that break and it’s just really good stuff.”

Out of the 40 pitches Hernandez threw in his first outing on Friday, the Venezuelan got the Orioles to swing and miss seven times. Because he accrued two innings of work against Baltimore, his next outing likely won’t come until the Red Sox’ next series against the Blue Jays in Buffalo.

Red Sox Trade Rumors: Phillies Have Spoken To Boston About Brandon Workman, per Report

With the 2020 trade deadline fast approaching, the Red Sox are already getting involved in some rumors, as The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the club has been in contact with the Phillies about right-hander Brandon Workman.

Workman, who turned 32 last week, is set to become a free agent for the first time this winter.

The Texas native owns an ERA of 4.05 and a FIP of 2.57 through his first seven appearances and 6 2/3 innings pitched this year. He is also coming off a season in which he accrued 16 saves while finishing third among qualified American League relievers in fWAR (2.1) in 2019.

The Phillies, meanwhile, own the worst bullpen ERA (8.07) and fourth-worst FIP (5.61) in baseball through their first 21 games of the season, so the need to improve their ‘pen is certainly there.

Philadelphia also has a prior connection to Workman, as the club drafted him out of high school in the third round of the 2007 amateur draft. The Sox closer forwent going pro then, however, and instead played college baseball at the University of Texas for three seasons before getting drafted by Boston in the second round of the 2010 amateur draft.

Even though the Red Sox (8-18) only have one less win that the Philles (9-12) do at this point, it would appear as though one club is aiming to be sellers at the deadline while the other is leaning towards being a buyer.

In terms of what the Phils would be willing to give up in this potential deal, it would be difficult to see them part ways with any one of their four top-100 prospects seeing how Workman is on an expiring contract. I would venture to say that, from Philly’s point of view, they could give up far less in order to acquire just one to two months of Workman’s service.

Along with Workman, outfielders Jackie Bradley Jr. and Kevin Pillar are two more players on the Sox’ active roster who are set to become free agents at the end of the season, while first baseman Mitch Moreland and left-hander Martin Perez have club options for 2021.

If chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. feel any need to move any of these five players, they have until August 31 to do so.

Matt Barnes Plays Pivotal Role for Red Sox in 6-3, Skid-Snapping Victory Over Phillies

Matt Barnes recorded five crucial outs in the seventh and eighth innings of the Red Sox’ 6-3 victory over the Phillies on Wednesday to snap a nine-game losing streak. That being said, getting those five outs was no easy task.

Coming into the afternoon on three days rest, the right-hander was dispatched in the top of the seventh with his side up 4-3 and the tying run in scoring position for Philadelphia as the heart of Philadelphia’s order was due to hit.

Barnes got his first opponent, the vaunted Bryce Harper, to fan on four pitches, with the fourth pitch being a 1-2, 84 mph curveball down and in. He then got his next opponent, the ever-dangerous J.T. Realmuto, to whiff on another 2-2, 85 mph curveball below the strike zone.

“I was able to make some quality pitches that fortunately went my and the team’s way,” Barnes said during his postgame media availability. “It was definitely awesome.”

Impressive work there for sure, but Barnes’ job was not yet done, as he came on for a clean inning in the top of the eighth as well.

There, with his side now up 5-3, the 30-year-old again struck out another man in Phillies leadoff hitter Phil Gosselin, but he needed seven pitches to do so.

The next man up for Philadelphia, though, was by far Barnes’ toughest opponent and someone he had faced plenty of times before in ex-Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius.

In their first head-to-head matchup this season, Barnes got ahead in the count at 0-2, but proceeded to sprinkle in a ball every once in a while as Gregorius continued to foul off a plethora of pitches.

Fastball after fastball. Curveball after curveball. It did not matter for Gregorius, as he fouled off a total of nine pitches from Barnes, with the ninth and final one being followed by a ball four that was up and in.

When all was said and done, Gregorious had won this battle against Barnes and was awarded first base after an exhausting 14-pitch at-bat.

“It was 14 [pitches], huh?” Barnes said with a chuckle. “I mean, it’s a battle, man. It’s a battle. You got to just continually try to execute good pitches. I executed a decent 3-2 pitch, a fastball about a ball off [and] in. Credit to him for putting together an at-bat like that. It’s exhausting for not only me but him as well.”

Once again, Philly looked like they could be threatening as the tying run was now at the plate in Alec Bohm. Fortunately for Boston, Barnes, with the help of shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin, was able to extinguish that threat by getting the rookie third baseman to ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.

“In a two-run game, one wrong pitch could be a two-run homer and we’re in a totally different spot in the game,” the UCONN product added. “I was able to make a quality pitch. I got to the 3-2 count to Bohm and wanted to throw a quality breaking ball in the zone to him. He put a decent swing on it, fortunately Lin made a great play with the backhand and him and [Jose] Peraza were able to turn the double play for us.”

The Red Sox went on to top the Phillies by a final score of 6-3 following a scoreless ninth inning from Brandon Workman, and Barnes, despite needing 38 pitches to do so, took home his fourth hold of the season as a result.

Red Sox Left-Hander Josh Taylor ‘Ready To Go’ After Getting Activated From COVID-19 Related Injured List

Going into the year, Josh Taylor would have never thought that he would be making his 2020 debut in the middle of August.

But, his testing positive for COVID-19 resulted in him being sidelined for about six weeks before he was finally  activated from the injured list prior to Monday’s game against the Yankees.

When speaking with reporters for the first time in a while on Monday, the left-hander admitted that he really did not know what to expect upon getting that positive test result back in the beginning of July.

“I was asymptomatic, so I had no idea [the test] would come back positive,” Taylor said. “I kept looking back and maybe I got it at a grocery store or something. I have no clue. I had two long weeks of sitting in a hotel room to figure it out and nothing really comes to mind.”

In Taylor’s absence, the Red Sox pitching staff endured their fair of struggles, which is something the 27-year-old may have helped with considering he posted a 3.11 ERA and .638 OPS against in 52 appearances out of the Boston bullpen as a rookie last year.

That possibility did not sit too well for Taylor while he was in self-isolation and watching his team getting off to a dreadful 6-16 start to the season.

“It sucks sitting in my hotel room and watching the game on TV,” he continued. “Seeing an inning go bad and saying ‘I could have been there to at least try to help limit the damage or get us through the inning.’ It’s tough, but I’m just happy I’m here know and can help the team contribute and hopefully we can turn things around.

Despite how much it must have gotten on Taylor to to be in that situation, he was at least able to stay in relatively good shape by using what was available to him in his room. That being his own laundry.

“I was throwing a ball into a sock, really,” the southpaw said of his self-isolation routine. “You tape a sock to your hand and throw [the ball] into the sock. That’s about as good as you get.”

Fortunately, Taylor can move on from that and look forward to appearing in a real game for the first time since last September. He is indeed ready for that to happen, as you may expect.

“I haven’t been put in a real-game scenario, but I definitely feel like I’m ready to go,” the Arizona native said. “I feel like my arm should be where it was last year and I’m pretty confident I’ll be able to go out and compete at the level I did last year.”

It’s been a frustrating last few weeks for Taylor, but he’s back in the majors and ready to build off what he accomplished in 2019, shortened season and all.

 

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 Make Series of Roster Moves, Option Chris Mazza and Matt Hall to Pawtucket

As roster sizes across Major League Baseball shrink from 30 to 28 players on Thursday, the Red Sox made a series of moves following Wednesday night’s win over the Rays, optioning right-hander Chris Mazza and left-hander Matt Hall to the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket.

By sending down the two hurlers, the Sox now have 28 players on their active roster, as will be the case for the remainder of the 2020 season. The only difference now being that clubs can carry 29 players on days they will be playing double-headers while taxi-squad capacity for road trips has increased from three players to five.

As for the two pitchers Boston sent down, let’s start with Hall. The 27-year-old southpaw has got off to a tough start with the Sox, allowing eight earned runs over his first two appearances (one start) and 4 2/3 innings pitched this season.

Originally acquired from the Tigers back in January, Hall served as an opener for the Red Sox against the Mets on July 28 and was then used after the opener, Austin Brice in this case, in two innings of relief against the Yankees on August 2. As previously mentioned, the Missouri native did not pitch particularly well in either outing.

Mazza, meanwhile, impressed in his Red Sox debut in New York on August 1, working 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief while scattering one hit, two walks, and three strikeouts in an eventual 5-2 loss at the hands of the Yankees.

The 30-year-old out of the Bay Area was first called up by Boston on July 29 in a transaction that also saw veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy get designated for assignment.

Despite Hall and Mazza both getting demoted, it wouldn’t be a shock to see either hurler back up with the Sox at some point later in the season. For now, they will report to the club’s alternate training site at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket.

Red Sox Reliever Matt Barnes Says He Has ‘Some Stuff to Figure Out’ After Tough Start to 2020 Season

The Red Sox’ first road trip of the 2020 season has not been very kind to one Matt Barnes.

On Thursday, the right-hander needed 37 pitches to work out of a bases loaded jam he got himself into in the eighth inning of an eventual 4-2 win over the Mets at Citi Field.

On Sunday, Barnes was not so fortunate, as he entered the eighth inning of a game his side had a 7-6 lead in. By the time he was done though, the 30-year-old hurler had seen that one-run lead turn into a two-run deficit. The main reason behind that was after issuing a two-out walk to Mike Tauchman, the Yankees No. 9 hitter, Barnes allowed Tauchman to steal second before allowing D.J. LeMahieu to tie the game on an RBI single to center field.

Just a few moments later, Barnes fell behind in the count against the ever-dangerous Aaron Judge, who had already gone deep earlier that night.

After falling behind 2-0 to Judge, Barnes or the Red Sox bench could have opted to put the Yankees slugger on base intentionally to avoid the worst-case scenario. Instead, Barnes hung an 84 MPH curveball on the inner half of the plate, and Judge made him pay for the mistaken location by crushing a 468-foot two-run blast deep to left field.

That put the Yankees up 9-7, and it would result in Barnes getting hit with his first loss and blown save of the season later on. The UCONN product didn’t hold back on the self-criticism during his postgame media availability.

“Can’t walk (Tauchman). Can’t walk the nine-hole hitter,” Barnes said via a Zoom call late Sunday night. In regards to serving up that two-run blast to Judge, Barnes added: “Just a poor sequence of events there.”

Through his first four relief appearances of 2020, Barnes has surrendered four earned runs on five hits (two home runs), four walks, and four strikeouts over four innings pitched. Opponents are currently slashing .313/.476/.688 off the former first-round pick. That’s not going to cut it in the long-term.

“I’ve got some stuff to figure out for sure,” Barnes added Sunday. “Hasn’t been as clean as I would have liked through the first four innings.”

Per Statcast, Barnes has relied on his curveball exactly 61% of the time he has been on the mound this season. Although it’s still relatively early, it’s becoming more clear that Barnes’ curve in 2020 is not nearly as effective as it was in 2019. That being the case because last season, opponents slugged a measly .272 off the offspeed pitch. This season, opponents are slugging .721 off it.

That is just one of several examples showing the decline in Barnes’ curveball, but it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibilities that the flame-throwing right-hander can bounce back from this slump as long as he figures out what he needs to figure out.

At the top of his game, Barnes is a quality set-up man, and just about every club could use one of those. Especially the Red Sox.

 

Red Sox Reliever Phillips Valdez Pitching Himself ‘Into Bigger Role,’ Ron Roenicke Says

One week into the 2020 season, Red Sox relievers own the 15th-best ERA (4.54), the 15th-best FIP (4.21), and the 20th-best fWAR (0.0) in baseball. Put simply, the Boston bullpen has been rather mediocre to begin things this year, which is understandable given the current state the starting rotation is in.

Despite that ‘mediocire’ notion, there have been a handful of Sox relievers who have stuck out in a positive way thus far, and one of them worked 2 2/3 scoreless innings against the Yankees on Friday night. His name? Phillips Valdez.

Yes, the right-hander scattered three hits and struck out three batters in relief of Ryan Weber in Friday’s series-opening loss to New York. With that outing in mind, Valdez has yet to give up a run through his first three appearances and 5 2/3 innings pitched as a member of the Red Sox.

Originally claimed off waivers by Boston from the Seattle Mariners back in February, the 29-year-old hurler has struck out more than 27% of the 22 hitters he has faced so far this season while holding them to a .200 clip.

Because of his strong first impression, Valdez could find himself in more high-leverage spots out of the Red Sox bullpen in the near future. His manager, Ron Roenicke, said as much when speaking with reporters Friday night.

“He’s pitching himself maybe into a bigger role,” Roenicke explained. “That’s why we stuck with him today because he’s been throwing the ball well when he starts going through some of these really good hitters and getting them out.”

Some of those “really good hitters” Valdez has gotten out thus far include Aaron Judge and Luke Voit, who both fell victim to 84 mph changeups from the Dominican Republic national on Friday.

Signed by the Indians as a 17-year-old out of the DR back in 2008, Valdez made his major-league debut with the Texas Rangers last June and is under team control with Boston through the end of the 2025 season.

Per Statcast, the slender 6-foot-2, 160 lb. righty primarily works with a changeup and sinker, while his slider and four-seam fastball lean more towards secondary pitches.

At the time he joined the Sox during the first version of spring training earlier this year, Valdez seemed like a long shot to make Boston’s Opening Day roster. But, coming out of the pandemic-induced layoff, the club obviously liked what they saw during Summer Camp and he was in there pitching against the Orioles last Friday.

Now, after getting off to a hot start with his new team, Valdez could become a legitimate weapon out of the Red Sox bullpen if he continues to prove that he can handle tougher situations as a reliever.

Red Sox Claim Right-Hander Robert Stock off Waivers From Phillies

While dropping their second straight to the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday afternoon, the Red Sox made a roster move in claiming right-hander Robert Stock off waivers from the Philadelphia Phillies.

As the above tweet mentions, Stock has been optioned to the Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket.

Now the 40th player on Boston’s 40-man roster, Stock was designated for assignment by Philadelphia on Thursday.

The 30-year-old hurler out of the University of Southern California has 42 career major-league relief appearances under his belt since making his big-league debut with the San Diego Padres in June 2018.

Between those 42 outings with the Phils and Pads, Stock owns a career 4.11 ERA and 3.67 FIP over 50 1/3 total innings of work. Granted, he surrendered 12 earned runs in just 10 2/3 innings pitched last year.

A former second-round selection of St. Louis back in the 2009 draft, Stock has spent time in the Cardinals, Astros, Pirates, Reds, Padres, and Phillies organizations. In other words, he’s been around.

Per his Statcast page, the 6-foot-1, 214 lb. righty works with a high-velocity four-seam fastball, a slider, a changeup, and a sinker.

The addition of Stock for the Red Sox comes less than 24 hours after the club claimed left-hander Stephen Gonsalves off waivers from the Mets.

If the Sox intend to add Stock to their player pool, which is currently at its full capacity, another player who is currently in the pool will have to be removed.

Red Sox to Option Dylan Covey to Triple-A Pawtucket, Ron Roenicke Says

Following Saturday’s 7-2 loss at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles, the Red Sox optioned right-hander Dylan Covey to Triple-A Pawtucket, manager Ron Roenicke announced.

Covey, who turns 29 next month, surrendered two earned runs on two hits and three strikeouts over two innings of relief in his Red Sox debut on Saturday.

The California native was acquired by Boston in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday and was subsequently added to the Sox’ 40-man roster the following day.

The goal in optioning Covey, per Roenicke, is to get him stretched out in Pawtucket. Of course, with no minor-league baseball this season, the righty will likely be limited to simulated games and live batting practices at McCoy Stadium in order for that to happen.

A corresponding move will be made by the Red Sox on Sunday and whoever is called up should get into a game in some capacity on Monday or Tuesday against the Mets, according to Roenicke.

If Boston elects to promote someone from their own 40-man roster, Kyle Hart, Chris Mazza, or Mike Shawaryn seem like logical choices. If it’s someone who is currently not on the 40-man roster, like Zack Godley or Brian Johnson, they will obviously need to be added in order to make this pending transaction possible.

There will be more to this before Sunday’s game against the Orioles, so stay tuned for that.