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.

Red Sox’ Brian Johnson Reportedly Leaves Club’s Alternate Training Site in Pawtucket for Undisclosed Reason

Red Sox left-hander Brian Johnson has left the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket to return home to Florida, according to MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith.

Per Smith, the reason Johnson departed from Pawtucket is not yet known, but the “speculation is he could opt out of the rest of the 2020 season.”

The 29-year-old hurler was originally added to Boston’s 60-man player pool last month as a non-roster invitee and most recently worked 5 1/3 one-run innings in a simulated game at McCoy Stadium this past Friday.

This all comes as Johnson, who was outrighted to Pawtucket last November after clearing waivers, looked like a legitimate candidate to start once again for the Red Sox seeing how the club’s starting rotation is not in the best of shape.

Of course, the Florida native would have had to been added back to Boston’s 40-man roster in order to make that happen, but that now appears unlikely at least for the time being given this recent news.

Last year, Johnson missed significant time on the injured list due to left elbow inflammation and a non-baseball related medical matter. He’s also been very open about his past battles with depression and anxiety. I’m not trying to speculate on anything by bringing that up, but given this report, I sincerely hope Johnson is in a good place right now. That’s it.

 

Red Sox Option Ryan Weber to Pawtucket, Call up Dylan Covey

Before taking on the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday, the Red Sox swapped one right-handed pitcher for another, as the club recalled Dylan Covey from their alternate training site in Pawtucket and in a corresponding move, optioned Ryan Weber.

Covey, who turns 29 next week, will be making his second stint with the Sox after allowing two runs over two innings of relief in a 7-2 loss at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles on July 25. The California native was sent down to Pawtucket shortly after his team debut with the goal of getting him stretched out in mind, manager Ron Roenicke said at the time.

Originally acquired by Boston from the Tampa Bay Rays on July 21, Covey came into the 2020 season with a career 6.54 ERA and 5.56 FIP over 63 outings (45 starts) and 250 1/3 innings pitched with the Chicago White Sox from 2017 through 2019.

Weber, meanwhile, entered the 2020 campaign as the Sox’ No. 3 starter but struggled in that role, most recently surrendering two runs in just three innings of work against the Blue Jays on Friday night.

Through three starts at the big-league level thus far in 2020, the soon-to-be-30-year-old hurler has posted an ERA of 9.90 and OPS against of 1.220 over 10 total innings pitched.

With Weber off the major-league roster for the time being, it will be fascinating to see how the Red Sox approach the vacancy in their starting rotation. Roenicke will likely have more to say about that later Saturday.

Red Sox Left-Handed Pitching Prospect Kyle Hart Retires 18 Hitters Over Five Scoreless Innings in Pawtucket

Red Sox left-handed pitching prospect Kyle Hart did something at McCoy Stadium on Monday that you will probably never see in a major or minor-league game: He retired 18 batters in five innings.

Yes, the 27-year-old got some work in during an intrasquad scrimmage in Pawtucket to kick off the week, and he was dominant, working five scoreless, perfect frames while getting an extra out in each of his last three innings.

In regards to spectators who were in attendance to watch Hart’s outing, PawSox broadcaster Mike Antonellis tweeted that the Cincinnati native “threw well,” while fellow broadcaster Jim Cain tweeted, as previously mentioned, that “the lefty was so efficient that in his final three innings, he stayed out to face an extra batter, and he retired all three.”

Originally drafted by Boston in the 19th round of the 2016 amateur draft out of The University of Indiana, Hart was added to the Sox’ 40-man roster last November and their 60-man roster pool last month.

The former Hoosier has never been a big-name prospect since becoming a professional four years ago, but seeing how he is already on the club’s 40-man roster, he certainly has a chance to make the jump to the majors this year.

Regarded by SoxProspects as Boston’s 42nd-ranked prospect, Hart posted a 3.86 ERA and 4.32 FIP over 18 appearances (15 starts) and 100 1/3 innings pitched with Triple-A Pawtucket last season.

The 6-foot-5, 200 lb. southpaw works with an 87-90 mph fastball that can max out at 92 mph, an 85-86 mph cutter, a 76-79 mph curveball, and an 81-82 mph changeup, per SoxProspects.

Given the current state of the Red Sox’ pitching staff at the major-league level, it certainly couldn’t hurt to give a guy like Hart a look out of the starting rotation or as a “bulk” reliever.

One thing Hart has over other minor-league pitchers in Boston’s pipeline, like Bryan Mata or Tanner Houck, is that he is already on the club’s 40-man roster, so getting him to the majors wouldn’t be too much of a hassle if that is the route chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. wanted to take.

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.

Myocarditis Shuts Down Red Sox’ Eduardo Rodriguez for Remainder of 2020 Season

Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will not pitch this season, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom announced Saturday.

The announcement comes as Rodriguez has been dealing with myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle, while recovering from COVID-19, which the 27-year-old tested positive for while at home in Miami early last month.

Although mild, the myocarditis Rodriguez is dealing with is still present, resulting in him being shut down for the remainder of 2020. As noted by The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, “the prognosis hasn’t changed but the timetable has.”

Bloom said as much when speaking with reporters Saturday, stating that, “While we remain very optimistic he will make a full recovery, due to the fact that it is persistent, and the amount of care we need to take with this, he’s not going to be able to come back and pitch this year.”

Again, the Sox fully expect Rodriguez to recover from this seeing how the myocarditis has not damaged the Venezuela native’s heart “and is not expected to impact him over the long-term,” That being said, “The recovery should be complete. It’s just a question of time.”

Heading into the season, Rodriguez was slated to be Boston’s No. 1 starter with Chris Sale going down for the year due to Tommy John surgery and David Price getting dealt to the Dodgers.

Even when the idea of Rodriguez starting on Opening Day against the Orioles last month was thrown out the window due to his bout with COVID-19, it still appeared likely that the southpaw would be a welcome addition to the Sox’ rotation sometime later in the season.

Now, the Red Sox will have to endure as they have for the first week of the 2020 campaign. That being without their best left-handed starter.

“It certainly makes the mountain a little bit higher,” Bloom said in regards to being without Rodriguez for the remainder of the season. He also mentioned the fact that the Sox are ‘monitoring the market and also working with pitchers in Pawtucket.’

While the Red Sox scour the market for more pitching, here’s to wishing Eduardo Rodriguez the best and hoping he undergoes a full recovery so that he is all systems go in 2021.

Darwinzon Hernandez Could Start Games for Red Sox Again by End of 2020 Season, Ron Roenicke Says

The idea that Darwinzon Hernandez could once again start for the Red Sox has been out there ever since the left-hander was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket for good last July.

Hernandez made his first career major-league start against the Rangers last June at Fenway Park, but never again made an appearance as a starter at the big-league level for the rest of the season.

Instead, as previously mentioned, the now-23-year-old was called up for good in July and proved to be quite effective out of the bullpen for the Red Sox, posting a 4.32 ERA, a .693 OPS against, and a 3.33 xFIP over 27 relief outings and 25 innings of work.

Still, despite that success, the Sox view Hernandez as a starter in the long run. At least, that’s what manager Ron Roenicke said on his weekly segment with WEEI’s Ordway, Merloni, and Fauria on Wednesday.

“Eventually, we think this guy could end up being a starter,” said Roenicke in regards to Hernandez’s future. “Who knows? Maybe he’s starting games by the end of the year.”

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves here, it is worth mentioning that Hernandez is still technically recovering from a bout with COVID-19, which he tested positive for while at home in Venezuela earlier this month.

Since that time, Hernandez reported back to the Red Sox in Boston in last week and has been working out at the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket in the meantime while he’s on the 10-day injured list.

At McCoy Stadium, the flame-throwing southpaw is set to throw a live batting practice session on Wednesday, then he’ll throw another one on Saturday before preparing for a simulated game this coming Monday, according to Roenicke.

From there, the Red Sox will evaluate where things stand with him as well as fellow left-hander Josh Taylor before taking any further action.

The most important thing here, particularly in Hernandez’s case, is to build up his workload so he can get stretched out in order to handle two to three innings at a time. That way, he could be more prepared to start at some point this season if that’s the direction the Red Sox decide to go.

Just Three Games Into Season, Lack of Starting Pitching Depth Already Coming Into Light for Red Sox

The Red Sox went into the 2020 season with three true starting pitchers — Nathan Eovaldi, Martin Perez, and Ryan Weber — on their Opening Day roster. The other two spots in the Sox’ rotation were going to go to openers.

Now three games into the 60-game campaign, Red Sox starting pitching has been a bit of a mixed bag of sorts against the Baltimore Orioles of all teams. Eovaldi impressed on Friday with six innings of one-run ball and a win, Perez struggled in his Boston debut but did end his outing with three scoreless innings in a losing effort on Saturday, and Weber had issues with his command in the rotation’s shortest start of the weekend on Sunday.

All together, Red Sox starting pitchers own an ERA of 11.99 (11 earned runs in 14 2/3 total innings pitched) thus far. Take that for what it’s worth, and then remember that as they prepare for a two-game series against the Mets this week, the two “starters” they are planning on going with have amassed a total of zero career games started in the majors.

Those two “starters,” or openers, for Boston on Monday and Tuesday will be left-handers Josh Osich and Matt Hall, both of whom were acquired by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom over the winter.

Osich, claimed off waivers by Boston from the White Sox last October, made his Red Sox debut and tossed a scoreless ninth inning in Saturday’s 7-2 loss to Baltimore.

Hall, meanwhile, was acquired by Boston in a trade that saw minor-league catcher Jhon Nunez go to the Detroit Tigers back in January. The 27-year-old impressed during Summer Camp, but has yet to make his Red Sox debut.

With Osich, the plan for the 31-year-old is to pitch an inning or two against New York on Monday before the recently-signed Zack Godley enters in a bulk role.

“It’s the left-handed pitcher against their left-handed lineup,” Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke said in regards to opening with Oscih against the Mets. “Just trying to get through an inning or two, then go to more of a bulk guy. So that’s the plan right now. We’ll see how it goes.”

As for Hall, expect Roenicke to have more to say about the southpaw following Monday’s bout with the Mets at Fenway Park.

Red Sox Call up Right-Hander Zack Godley, Option Dylan Covey to Pawtucket

Prior to wrapping up a three-game weekend series against the Orioles on Sunday afternoon, the Red Sox added right-hander Zack Godley to their active roster and optioned right-hander Dylan Covey to their alternate training site in Pawtucket in a corresponding move.

Godley, 30, signed a minor-league deal with Boston on July 17 shortly after getting released by the Detroit Tigers.

The veteran rigthy made two appearances for the Sox during Summer Camp, with the first coming in an intrasquad game and the second coming in an exhibition game against the Blue Jays.

In that rain-shortened contest against Toronto on July 22, Godley got the start and tossed three scoreless no-hit innings, but that wasn’t enough for a rotation spot right away as he was initially left off Boston’s Opening Day roster.

Now, the former Diamondbacks hurler will get the chance, likely on Monday or Tuesday against the Mets, to prove that he is indeed worthy of hanging around with the Red Sox. Whether that comes as a starter or reliever has yet to be determined.

And for what it’s worth, the Red Sox now have 39 players on their 40-man roster.

Red Sox Claim Left-Hander Stephen Gonsalves off Waivers From Mets

The Red Sox have claimed left-hander Stephen Gonsalves off waivers from the New York Mets and optioned him to their alternative training site in Pawtucket, the club announced Saturday evening.

Gonsalves, who turned 26 earlier this month, was designated for assignment by the Mets on Thursday in order to open a spot on their 40-man roster.

A former top prospect of the Twins organization, Gonsalves last appeared in the majors in 2018, posting a 6.57 ERA and 5.71 FIP over seven appearances (four starts) and 24 2/3 total innings pitched for Minnesota.

In the minors, Gonsalves only made eight appearances between three different levels in 2019 as he was hampered by elbow issues or more specifically, a stress reaction in his left elbow/forearm.

The 2013 fourth-round draft pick out of Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego was let go by the Twins this past November before subsequently getting picked up by the Mets. Obviously, his tenure with New York only lasted a little more than eight months.

Per his Statcast page, Gonsalves operates with a four-seam fastball, a changeup, a cutter, and a slider. He will likely serve as rotation depth for Boston.

By adding Gonsalves, the Red Sox now have 38 players on their 40-man roster. Their player pool size has also reached maximum capacity at 60.