After rough 2020 season with Red Sox, Dylan Covey enjoyed success in Taiwan in 2021

Remember when Dylan Covey was one of 27 pitchers the Red Sox used during a dismal 2020 season that only consisted of 60 games?

A former fourth-round pick of the Oakland Athletics who broke in with the White Sox in 2017, Covey was effectively released by Chicago leading up to the 2020 season and inked a minor-league deal with the Rays shortly thereafter.

On the other side of the COVID-19-induced shutdown that placed a freeze on transactions across Major League Baseball, the Rays traded Covey to the Red Sox in late July.

The right-hander was initially optioned to Boston’s alternate training site, but wound up making the club’s Opening Day roster. He made his Red Sox debut against the Orioles on July 25 and was then sent back down to Pawtucket the following day.

On August 8, Covey was recalled from the alternate training site, paving the way for him to make three more appearances out of the Sox’ bullpen before getting optioned eight days later.

Fast forward nearly four weeks, and Covey’s name was called upon once again. He closed out the shortened campaign on Boston’s big-league roster and made four final relief appearances in the process of doing so.

All told, Covey posted a 7.07 ERA — yet a much more respectable 3.91 FIP — to go along with 11 strikeouts to just two walks over eight outings spanning 14 total innings of work in his three stints with the club.

Following the conclusion of the 2020 World Series, the Red Sox outrighted Covey off their 40-man roster, thus allowing the righty to become a free agent since he had already accrued more than three years of major-league service time.

It’s unclear if Covey — a client of CAA Sports — was pursuing big-league opportunities upon hitting the open market, but he ultimately inked a one-year deal with the Rakuten Monkeys of the Chinese Professional Baseball League last May.

Equipped with a five-pitch mix that consists of a slider, four-seam fastball, sinker, changeup, and curveball, Covey debuted for Rakuten’s first-team in late August.

In 10 starts for the Monkeys, the 30-year-old put up a 4.01 ERA and 3.14 FIP with 38 strikeouts and 17 walks across 58 1/3 innings pitched. According to CPBLStats.com, he yielded a minuscule 0.84 ERA over his final five starts of the year.

Last month, it was revealed that Rakuten had re-signed Covey to a one-year contract for the upcoming 2022 season, which begins in April.

If Covey — who turns 31 in August — can put together another productive season in Taiwan, it would be fascinating to see if the 6-foot-1, 214 pound hurler could garner enough interest from MLB teams to ponder a return to the United States next winter.

(Picture of Dylan Covey: CPBL Stats)

With acquisition of Tim Locastro, Red Sox gain speed and athleticism, Chaim Bloom says

New Red Sox outfielder Tim Locastro has — and quite frankly always has had — elite speed in the field and on the base paths.

As a junior at Ithaca College in 2013, Locastro stole 40 bases in 41 attempts, setting the single-season program record in stolen bases as well as runs scored (71).

Upon being selected by the Blue Jays in the 13th round of the 2013 amateur draft, Locastro swiped 32 bags in his first full professional season with Low-A Vancouver in 2014 and was only caught four times.

As a prospect, Locastro was well-known for his “plus-plus speed” and was traded from the Blue Jays to the Dodgers in July 2015. With Los Angeles, the right-handed hitter’s speed was highly coveted leading up to his major-league debut in late September of the 2017 campaign.

Locastro appeared in just 21 total games for the Dodgers, however, as he was dealt to the Yankees at the conclusion of the 2018 season before ultimately winding up with the Diamondbacks that following January.

In his debut season with Arizona in 2019, Locastro put his speed on full display by recording 17 stolen bases without getting caught once. He led all of Major League Baseball with a sprint speed of 30.8 feet per second and finished tied for second in bolts (61), or any run with a speed of at least 30 feet per second.

While his stolen base numbers took a dip in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Locastro did enjoy a career year at the plate in which he slashed .290/.395/.464 (134 wRC+) across 33 games and 82 plate appearances. In the process of putting up those impressive numbers, he was perfect in stolen base attempts (4-for-4) while again putting up an MLB-best sprint speed of 30.7 feet per second.

Coming into 2021, Locastro had yet to be caught stealing (26-for-26) for his big-league career. He picked up stolen base No. 28 at Chase Field on April 13 to set the MLB record for most successful stolen bases to start a career, passing Hall of Famer Tim Raines in the process of doing so.

Just four days after breaking Raines’ record, though, Locastro was finally caught stealing for the first time, as he was picked off at second base by then-Nationals catcher Yan Gomes at Nationals Park on April 17.

Locastro stole two more bases and was caught two more times in a Diamondbacks uniform before he was traded back to the Yankees in exchange for pitching prospect Keegan Curtis at the start of July.

New York re-acquired Locastro in order to inject more speed into a station-to-station lineup that was in desperate need of a boost. Just nine games into his Yankees tenure, though, the Auburn, N.Y. native suffered a season-ending injury in a game against the Red Sox.

Manning left field for the Yankees in the first inning of a July 17 contest against the Sox in the Bronx, Locastro leaped to catch an Alex Verdugo fly ball in foul territory, but landed awkwardly and could be seen grabbing at his right knee after crashing into the wall down the left field line.

As a result of said play, Locastro came up gimpy and was later replaced in left field by Tyler Wade before being diagnosed with an ACL tear that same night.

The Yankees placed the 29-year-old on the 10-day injured list the following day and transferred him to the 60-day injured list a week later. At the end of the season, they must have felt that it was not worth it to add Locastro back to their 40-man roster and instead placed him on waivers.

This gave other clubs the opportunity to put a claim in for the 6-foot-1, 190 pound speedster, which is exactly what the Red Sox did last Friday.

Now a member of Boston’s 40-man roster, which currently sits at 33 players, Locastro was expected to begin running again sometime this fall after undergoing knee surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City back in late July.

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom essentially confirmed as much in a recent conversation with BloggingtheRedSox.com.

“Tim’s on track for a full recovery from his injury,” Bloom said via email. “With his speed and athleticism, he’s great depth for us to add at the beginning of the off-season.”

Locastro, who does not turn 30 until next July, certainly fits the profile of player the Red Sox have added since Bloom took over two years ago in that there is little risk and plenty to gain from it.

As previously mentioned, Locastro is extremely fast and is dangerous on the base paths, which is something Alex Cora’s Red Sox were lacking this past season. Not only that, but he plays all three outfield positions as well and has been a plus-defender in right field (positive-3 defensive runs saved, positive-2.1 ultimate zone rating in 207 1/3 innings) throughout his career.

Additionally, Locastro comes with club control, as he is slated to become eligible for salary arbitration for just the first time next season and is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn approximately $700,000 in 2022.

There is, of course, risk involved in acquiring someone like Locastro considering the fact that he is a player who primarily relies on their speed and is coming off a major ACL injury.

Still, the addition of Locastro — should he prove to have recovered from his injury — does provide the Red Sox with experienced outfield depth. It could also make some for some interesting positional battles come spring training.

That being said, spring training is still a long ways away and there is still plenty of off-season ahead. As Bloom put it, “We’ll see how things play out from here.”

(Picture of Tim Locastro: Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Red Sox not ruling out reunion with Garrett Richards: ‘It’s certainly possible that something could line up,’ Chaim Bloom says

The Red Sox may have declined Garrett Richards’ club option for the 2022 season on Sunday, but chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has yet to rule out a potential reunion with the right-hander.

Richards, who originally signed a one-year, $8.5 million contract with the Sox in February, had a $10 million team option for 2022 attached to that deal that the Sox needed to decide on by 5 p.m. eastern time on Sunday.

Boston ultimately chose against picking up Richards’ option, thus making the 33-year-old hurler a free agent who will be receiving $1.5 million in the form of a buyout.

Still, when speaking with reporters via a Zoom call on Sunday evening, Bloom spoke highly of Richards’ 2021 season when others might view it as a rather disappointing one.

“It’s funny,” Bloom said. “When I talked to Garrett to let him know, I made sure to compliment him and credit him by telling him how I feel, which is that he really turned around his season and, in many ways, saved ours with what he did once he got comfortable in the bullpen.”

Coming out of spring training, Richards opened the year as Boston’s No. 3 starter. After a rough 2021 debut against the Orioles on April 4, he proceeded to post a 3.14 ERA and 3.90 FIP to go along with 56 strikeouts to 30 walks over his next 11 starts and 63 innings of work from April 10 through June 6.

Beginning in mid-June, however, Major League Baseball began to crack down on pitchers using foreign substances in order to enhance their grip on baseballs. Richards wound up getting caught up in this crackdown, and it negatively affected his performance on the mound.

From June 11 until August 8, Richards struggled to the tune of a 7.15 ERA and 6.94 FIP with 29 strikeouts and 16 walks over his next 10 starts (45 1/3 innings pitched) before being removed from Boston’s starting rotation and relegated to the bullpen on Aug. 11.

As a reliever, Richards fared far in shorter burst, much to the delight of Bloom. The veteran righty put up a 3.42 ERA and 2.90 FIP while striking out nearly 25% of the batters he faced in 18 appearances and 26 1/3 innings out of the Red Sox bullpen.

“For a season in which he really struggled in a lot of ways, I think he also found a lot of success,” said Bloom. “Even before the switch to the bullpen, there was a period in the early start of the season where he was really rolling and really was a stabilizer for us. So, there were a lot of good things mixed in.”

In the postseason, Richards made Boston’s Wild Card Game roster and American League Division Series roster. He pitched a third of an inning in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Rays before suffering a left hamstring strain that forced the Red Sox to remove him from their roster and replace him with Matt Barnes.

Taking all those factors into consideration, the Sox, as Bloom explained on Sunday, felt as though it was not worth it for them to bring Richards back for the 2022 on what would essentially be a one-year, $10 million deal.

“We get to the end point with this decision, and we didn’t feel like it made sense to exercise the option,” Bloom said. “But, we’re going to stay in touch with him and it’s certainly possible that something could line up.”

Bloom, of course, is someone who likes to keep all doors open when it comes to constructing a big-league roster. And while it may be unclear at the moment if Richards — who turns 34 in May — is best suited to market himself as a starter or reliever, the Red Sox reuniting with the ISE Baseball client remains a possibility for now.

(Picture of Garrett Richards: Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

Red Sox slugger Kyle Schwarber becomes free agent after declining $11.5 million mutual option for 2022 season

Kyle Schwarber has officially become a free agent after declining his $11.5 million mutual option for 2022, the Associated Press reported earlier Friday morning.

Schwarber, 28, had until Sunday to decide on accepting his end of the mutual option that was part of the one-year, $10 million deal he signed with the Nationals back in January.

It was expected that Schwarber would decline it and instead test the free agency waters based off the strong 2021 season he put together between the Nationals and Red Sox.

After getting traded from Washington to Boston in exchange for pitching prospect Aldo Ramirez in late July, Schwarber later made his Red Sox debut on August 13, as he had previously been on the injured list due to a right hamstring strain.

Upon being inserted into manager Alex Cora’s lineup, Schwarber made his impact felt right away and quickly became a fan favorite in Boston as a result of doing so. In 41 games for the Sox, the left-handed hitter slashed an impressive .291/.435/.522 with 10 doubles, seven home runs, 18 RBI, 34 runs scored, 33 walks, and 39 strikeouts across 168 plate appearances.

Defensively, Schwarber appeared in 15 games in left field and an additional 10 at first base, a position he was learning on the fly so that the Red Sox could get his bat into the lineup regularly without altering their regular outfield picture too much.

In the postseason, the 6-foot, 299 pound slugger batted .205/.286/.432 to go along with one double, three homers, six RBI, eight runs scored, one stolen base, five walks, and 11 strikeouts over 11 games (49 plate appearances) spanning the American League Wild Card Game against the Yankees, the American League Division Series against the Rays, and the American League Championship Series against the Astros.

Because the Red Sox acquired Schwarber, who does not turn 29 until March, midseason, they cannot extend him an $18.4 million qualifying offer. They can, however, make an attempt to bring him back for the 2022 season and beyond.

When the Red Sox were eliminated by the Astros in Game 6 of the ALCS last month, Schwarber did indicate that he would be open to remaining in Boston if the opportunity presented itself.

“This is definitely a clubhouse that I could see myself wanting to stay in,” Schwarber told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith. “These guys are amazing. I said this, it’s two World Series teams going at it. This is a World Series clubhouse, and I would love to hopefully see if that opportunity comes back.”

(Picture of Kyle Schwarber: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

What does the future hold for Red Sox prospects Hudson Potts and Jeisson Rosario?

Exactly 14 months ago Saturday, the Red Sox traded veteran first baseman Mitch Moreland to the Padres in exchange for a pair of prospects in Hudson Potts and Jeisson Rosario.

At the time, Potts, an infielder, and Rosario, an outfielder, were regarded by Baseball America as the No. 16 and No. 24 prospects in a loaded San Diego farm system, respectively. The two spent the remainder of the 2020 season at Boston’s alternate training site and participated in fall instructs before being added to the club’s 40-man roster in November.

To open the 2021 campaign, both Potts and Rosario received invites to major-league spring training in Fort Myers, though neither saw much action in Grapefruit League play due to separate injuries.

On March 13, Potts and Rosario were both optioned to the alternate training site and were later assigned to Double-A Portland to kick off the minor-league season. Potts, however, did not make his Sea Dogs debut until June 10 on account of the oblique injury he had been dealing with throughout the spring.

To that point in the year, Rosario was hitting a modest .243/.333/.279 (77 wRC+) with four doubles, 10 RBI, 13 runs scored, two stolen bases, 15 walks, and 40 strikeouts across his first 28 games (126 plate appearances) for the Sea Dogs.

The two teammates appeared in the same lineup for the first time on June 11 as the Sea Dogs went up against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats at Hadlock Field. Potts, batting fifth and starting at third base, went 1-for-4 with a two-run double, a walk, and three strikeouts. Rosario, batting leadoff and starting in center field, went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, a walk, and two strikeouts.

From the following day on, Potts appeared in seven more games (76) for Portland than Rosario (69) did, though neither were really able to produce at the plate on a consistent basis.

Potts, who turned 23 on Thursday, finished the season ranked as the No. 24 prospect in the Sox’ farm system, per Baseball America. All told, the 6-foot-3, 229 pound right-handed hitter slashed .217/.264/.399 (76 wRC+) to go along with 18 doubles, 11 home runs, 47 RBI, 33 runs scored, 16 walks, and exactly 100 strikeouts over 78 games (307 plate appearances) for the Sea Dogs.

Rosario, on the other hand, recently had a birthday as well as he turned 22 last Friday. Similarly enough to Potts, Rosario at the moment is regarded by Baseball America as the 26th-ranked prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 209 pounds, the left-handed hitter out of the Dominican Republic batted .232/.335/.307 (84 wRC+) with 15 doubles, one triple, three homers, 36 runs driven in, 48 runs scored, 11 stolen bases, 50 walks, and 113 strikeouts across 98 games spanning 405 trips to the plate for Portland.

While neither Potts or Rosario exactly lit it up at the Double-A level, they both showed some flashes of their potential while being amongst the younger position players who accrued at least 300 plate appearances in the Double-A Northeast this season.

That being said, the futures of both prospects starts to become interesting when looking ahead to the next few weeks of the Major League Baseball offseason.

Clubs have until November 19 to add eligible minor-leaguers to their 40-man roster in order to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft. The Red Sox have a plethora of prospects (such as Jeter Downs, Brayan Bello, Gilberto Jimenez, and Josh Winckowski) they will need to protect before then, so they will need to clear some space in order to do so.

Approximately six members of the 2021 Red Sox are slated to file for free agency at the conclusion of the World Series, though that number could increase on account of contract options attached to other players like J.D. Martinez, Kyle Schwarber, and Christian Vazquez.

By the time the dust settles from that, the Red Sox will likely have the room on their 40-man roster to add the prospects they deem necessary to protect from the Rule 5 Draft, which typically takes place during the winter meetings but could be altered this year since the league’s collective bargaining agreement expires at the beginning of December.

Still, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has not hesitated to part ways with prospects on Boston’s 40-man roster in the past if it means creating avenues for other moves. Last December, the Sox dealt pitching prospect Yoan Aybar, then on the club’s 40-man, to the Rockies in exchange for infield prospect Christian Koss.

This past July, outfield prospect Marcus Wilson was designated for assignment in the wake of the trade deadline and was later claimed off waivers by the Mariners.

The same sort of thing can be said about fellow outfielder Franchy Cordero, a former top prospect acquired by the Red Sox in the three-team trade that sent Andrew Benintendi to the Royals back in February who was recently designated for assignment himself so that right-handed reliever Phillips Valdez could be re-added to the 40-man.

Cordero may have cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Worcester last week, meaning he remains under team control with Boston, but it just goes to show that Bloom and Co. do not mess around when it comes to 40-man roster depth.

This is not to say that Potts or Rosario — or other prospects on the 40-man roster such as Connor Wong, Ronaldo Hernandez, Jarren Duran, or Jay Groome — are destined for a fate similar to that of Aybar, Cordero, or Wilson. It’s just something to consider.

Taking that point into consideration, though, it is worth mentioning that Rosario is one of a handful of Red Sox minor-leaguers playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic. He has yet to start a game for Tigres del Licey.

(Picture of Hudson Potts: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox outright Franchy Cordero to Triple-A Worcester after outfielder clears waivers

Four days after designating him for assignment, the Red Sox outrighted outfielder Franchy Cordero to Triple-A Worcester, the club announced earlier Monday afternoon.

Cordero had been designated for assignment last week so that the Sox could clear a spot on their 40-man roster for right-handed reliever Phillips Valdez, who was activated from the COVID-19 related injured list.

Since he has more than three years of big-league service time, Cordero could have opted to become a free agent upon getting designated. However, as Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com reports, the 27-year-old actually signed a one-year, $825,000 deal for the 2022 season with Boston before being designated, meaning the team still controls his rights.

Cordero, who turned 27 last month, was one of five players the Red Sox acquired from either the Mets or Royals as part of the three-team trade that sent fellow outfielder Andrew Benintendi to Kansas City back in February. The other four players were right-handed pitching prospects Josh Winckowski, Grant Gambrell, and Luis De La Rosa and outfield prospect Freddy Valdez.

After making Boston’s Opening Day roster out of spring training, the left-handed hitter out of the Dominican Republic got his 2021 campaign off to a sluggish start. He hit just 179/.228/.274 with six doubles, one home run, nine RBI, nine runs scored, one stolen base, six walks, and 37 strikeouts through his first 34 games (102 plate appearances) before getting optioned to Worcester for the first time on May 27.

From that point forward, Cordero did enjoy some success at the Triple-A level with the WooSox and even learned a new position at first base, but he appeared in a total of 14 games with the Red Sox the rest of the way while spending the majority of September in Worcester.

It appeared as though the Sox had given up on Cordero when they removed him from their 40-man roster. But, as noted by Cotillo, “it’s fair to assume the club designated him for assignment knowing there was a good chance they would be able to retain him” on account of the contract they had just signed him to.

Having said that, Cordero will likely partake in major-league spring training as a non-roster invitee once the Red Sox begin camp this coming February.

(Picture of Franchy Cordero: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Hirokazu Sawamura ‘good to go’ for remainder of ALCS despite experiencing right hamstring discomfort earlier this week

UPDATE: Sawamura is ‘good to go’ after there was some concern regarding his right hamstring, Cora told MLB.com’s Ian Browne.

Original Story: Red Sox reliever Hirokazu Sawamura is currently dealing with a right hamstring injury that could result in him being replaced on Boston’s American League Championship Series roster, manager Alex Cora said prior to Game 6 on Friday.

When speaking with reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) during his pregame media availability, Cora indicated that Sawamura would throw on the field at Minute Maid Park before the club decides if a roster move is necessary.

After not being named to Boston’s Wild Card Game or division series squads, Sawamura was added to the Sox’ 26-man ALCS roster last week as he essentially replaced fellow right-hander Matt Barnes.

The 33-year-old hurler out of Japan has appeared in three of the five games the Red Sox have played against the Astros thus far, posting a 4.50 ERA and 5.67 FIP to go along with two strikeouts, two walks, and one hit batsman over two total innings of work.

During the regular season, Sawamura missed time on the injured list on two separate occasions due to right triceps inflammation in late July and a bout with COVID-19 that began towards the end of August and lasted through mid-September.

Should Sawamura be deemed unable to pitch for the remainder of this series, right-handers such as Barnes and the recently-activated Phillips Valdez could emerge as candidates to replace him.

On the flip side of that, left-hander Austin Davis — who was on the Wild Card and division series rosters but left off the ALCS roster — represents another possible fill-in option.

(Picture of Hirokazu Sawamura: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox designate Franchy Cordero for assignment, reinstate Phillips Valdez from COVID-19 related injured list

Even on a travel day, the Red Sox still made some headlines on Thursday by reinstating right-hander Phillips Valdez from the COVID-19 related injured list.

In order to make room on their 40-man roster for Valdez, outfielder Franchy Cordero was designated for assignment, the club announced earlier Thursday afternoon.

Valdez had been out on the COVID-19 related injured list since testing positive for the virus while the Red Sox were in Chicago on September 12. It took more than two weeks for him to get cleared to return to action, but he was eventually sent out on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Worcester on Sept. 29.

In two relief appearances for the WooSox, the 29-year-old hurler allowed one earned run on zero hits, six walks, and two strikeouts over 1 1/3 innings of work.

At the moment, it’s unclear if Valdez — who turns 30 next month — can be added to Boston’s American League Championship Series roster since that would require someone else to be taken off. He would be eligible for the World Series if the Red Sox were to advance, though.

With Valdez being activated from the COVID-related IL, the Red Sox needed to clear a spot on their 40-man roster, and they did so by designating Cordero for assignment.

Cordero, one of five players the Sox acquired in the three-team trade with the Royals and Mets that sent Andrew Benintendi to Kansas City in February, initially began the 2021 campaign by making Boston’s Opening Day roster out of spring training.

The 27-year-old got his season off to a slow start, however, as he hit just .179/.228/.274 with six doubles, one home run, nine RBI, nine runs scored, one stolen base, six walks, and 37 strikeouts through his first 34 games (102 plate appearances) with the Red Sox before getting optioned to Worcester for the first time on May 27.

While he enjoyed moderate success with the WooSox, the left-handed hitting Cordero could never really find his footing at the major-league level even after the Red Sox tried him as a first baseman to get him more playing time.

From the time he was recalled from Worcester again shortly after the All-Star break, Cordero appeared in a total of 14 games for the Red Sox and spent nearly the entirety of his September at Triple-A.

Despite having one minor-league option remaining and being under team control through 2023, Cordero must have been viewed by the Sox as expandable for them to remove him from their 40-man roster.

Along with Cordero, Boston acquired right-handed pitching prospect Josh Winckowski and three players to be named later from Kansas City and New York on Feb. 10.

Less than four months later, the trade was completed when the Red Sox acquired pitching prospects Grant Gambrell and Luis De La Rosa from the Royals and outfield prospect Freddy Valdez from the Mets in early June.

By designating Cordero for assignment, the Sox have exposed the Dominican-born outfielder to waivers. If he goes unclaimed over the next seven days, Boston could then retain his services by outrighting him to Worcester.

(Picture of Franchy Cordero: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Red Sox add Matt Barnes to ALDS roster after Garrett Richards suffers left hamstring strain

Before taking on the Rays in Game 2 of the American League Division Series at Tropicana Field on Friday night, the Red Sox made a slight change to the composition of their bullpen.

After requesting and receiving approval from Major League Baseball to make a substitution, the Sox replaced right-hander Garrett Richards on their ALDS roster with fellow righty Matt Barnes, the club announced earlier Friday evening.

Richards, who was used in relief of Eduardo Rodriguez in Thursday’s loss to Tampa Bay, needed all of three pitches to get Randy Arozarena to ground out to retire the side in the second inning.

Since he was diagnosed with a left hamstring strain, though, Richards had to be removed from Boston’s roster. Per Major League Baseball’s postseason rules, the 33-year-old would not be eligible to participate in the American League Championship Series. He would, however, be available for the World Series if the Sox were to make it that far.

Barnes, on the other hand, was initially left off the Red Sox’ ALDS roster as a healthy scratch so that three left-handers (Austin Davis, Martin Perez, Josh Taylor) could be available out of the bullpen.

Despite not being named to the roster, Barnes still traveled with the Sox to St. Petersburg in the event that he would be needed due to an injury elsewhere, which turns out to be the case.

For how impressive of a start Barnes got his season off to — in which he netted himself a two-year, $18.75 million contract extension while being named to his first career All-Star team — the latter half of his year was full of struggles.

Over the final two-plus months of the regular season, the 31-year-old fireballer posted a dismal 9.26 ERA and 7.11 FIP in 17 appearances (11 2/3 innings pitched) out of the Boston bullpen. He also missed a significant amount of time during that stretch after testing positive for COVID-19 in late August.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Barnes is available out of the bullpen for Friday’s contest against the Rays.

(Picture of Matt Barnes: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox activate Garrett Whitlock from 10-day injured list ahead of regular season finale against Nationals

Before closing out the regular season against the Nationals at Nationals Park on Sunday, the Red Sox activated right-hander Garrett Whitlock from the 10-day injured list.

In a corresponding move, fellow righty Eduard Bazardo was optioned to Triple-A Worcester, the club announced earlier Sunday afternoon.

Whitlock returns from the injured list after initially being sidelined with a right pectoral strain that he sustained exactly two weeks ago Sunday in the seventh inning of an 8-6 win over the Orioles at Fenway Park.

While he was eligible to be activated as early as Thursday, the 25-year-old threw a bullpen session in D.C. on Friday, and that seemed to be the final hurdle he needed to get over before being cleared to return to action.

In 45 appearances out of the Boston bullpen this year, Whitlock has posted a dazzling 1.99 ERA and 2.89 FIP to go along with 79 strikeouts to just 17 walks over 72 1/3 innings pitched.

The Red Sox originally acquired Whitlock from the Yankees in the major-league phase of last winter’s Rule 5 Draft, and he has since proven to be one of — if not the best reliever on the team in his rookie season.

As Boston looks to ensure that they will be hosting the American League Wild Card game with a win over Washington on Sunday, Whitlock will be among those available out of the bullpen behind starter Chris Sale.

Nathan Eovaldi is the only pitcher who will not be available for the Sox on Sunday, as the veteran right-hander is in line to either start said Wild Card Game or a potential tie-breaking Game 163 if that’s what it comes down to.

(Picture of Garrett Whitlock: Rich Schultz/Getty Images)