Red Sox Place Chris Sale on Injured List Due to Left Elbow Inflammation

In case you missed it, the Red Sox announced that left-hander Chris Sale had been placed on the 10-day injured list due to left elbow inflammation prior to Saturday’s win over the Baltimore Orioles.

In a corresponding move, right-hander Ryan Brasier was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket. The club made the transaction official earlier on Saturday.

Sale allowed five runs, three of which were earned, on five hits, two walks, and 12 strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings in his last time out against the Cleveland Indians this past Tuesday.

According to Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, the 30-year-old felt stiffness in his left elbow in the two days following his last start and informed the team’s training staff of it on Friday, which ultimately led to an MRI on Saturday.

“We’re not taking any chances and putting him on the injured list,” Dombrowski said when speaking with reporters Saturday. “There’s going to be further evaluation. Our doctors looked at the MRI. We’ll have other doctors look at the MRI. We’re in a situation where I don’t really know where it’s going to take us at this point. People will further read the MRIs, and then they’ll make their diagnosis.”

One of those other opinions will come from Dr. James Andrews, who will more than likely meet with Sale as well.

Sale himself was not made available to the media on Saturday. As Dombrowski put it, “Chris, I think, needs a couple of days to himself at this point.”

Obviously, there’s no timetable for when Sale could possibly make any kind of return. In fact, when asked about whether or not the Florida native will pitch again in 2019, all Dombrowski could say was, “I don’t know one way or another at this point.”

Sale was scheduled to start against the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday. A replacement has yet to be named by Sox manager Alex Cora, who said that, “Somebody has to step up. That’s how it works in this business,” following Saturday’s win over the Orioles.

On the other side of this move, Ryan Brasier was recalled from Pawtucket one month after a somewhat-surprising demotion.

In that time with the PawSox, the 31-year-old posted a 0.96 ERA and .182 batting average against over 10 relief appearances and 9 1/3 innings pitched.

On the 2019 campaign as a whole, Brasier owns an ERA of 4.46 and batting average against of .242 in 44 appearances and 40 1/3 innings of work with Boston. He did not pitch Saturday.

Stay tuned for something on here if Sale speaks with the media in the next few days.

Advertisements

Red Sox Starting Pitching Has Been Abysmal Since the All-Star Break

The Red Sox entered the 2019 All-Star break winners of five of their last six after returning from London. At 49-41 headed into the four-day hiatus last month, they stood just two games behind the Cleveland Indians for the second American League Wild Card spot.

Since that time, the 2019 campaign has begun to unravel for the defending World Series champions. That much is evident by how this current eight-game tail spin now has them at 10-14 since the break, which is the fourth-worst record in the American League over that span behind only the Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox, and Seattle Mariners, three teams not trying to compete for anything this year.

Despite those poor results, the Red Sox lead all of baseball over that time in runs scored, as they have plated 143 runs over their last 24 games. or in other words, are averaging 5.94 runs per game since the All-Star break.

Sure, there have been some blowouts mixed in there that may skew the numbers, but it goes without saying that the Sox have one of the better offenses in baseball that can compete with anyone at any given time.

That said, it becomes difficult to continuosly produce at a rampant rate when you’re falling behind early in games, which leads me to my next point.

To put it simply, Red Sox starting pitchers have not carried their weight this season.

David Price, Rick Porcello, Nathan Eovaldi, and Chris Sale are four of the highest paid non-position players on this staff, earning $31 million, $20.6 million, $16.9 million, and $15 million in 2019 respectively.

Per FanGraphs, Boston starters rank 20th out of the 30 big league clubs in ERA (5.07) and 14th in fWAR (8.3) since the start of the season. Going back to the start of the second half, they rank 27th in ERA (6.40) and 27th in fWAR (0.3) over these last 24 games.

The rotation was supposed to be the strength of this Red Sox team and instead has turned into one of their bigger weaknesses. The fact that the Sox are 17-27 in games started by Price or Sale this year is crazy enough.

Among qualified American League starters, Porcello ranks second-to-last in ERA (.574) and third-to-last in xFIP (5.27) through 22 starts and 122 1/3 innings pitches so far this season.

Eovaldi, meanwhile, has been moved to the bullpen after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to remove loose bodies from his right elbow back in April.

Andrew Cashner was brought over from the Baltimore Orioles in a three-player trade last month in hopes of stabilizing the back-end of Boston’s rotation.

The 32-yar-old has averaged close to six innings per start since making his Red Sox debut on July 16th, but he has also surrendered 18 earned runs over 23 1/3 innings pitched in that four start span, which is good for an ERA of 6.94.

Eduardo Rodriguez has been one of the few bright spots pitching-wise for Boston overall, as he leads the team in starts (23), wins (13), innings pitched (135 1/3), and ERA (4.19).

All in all, if the Red Sox have any shot of digging themselves out this hole they have dug for themselves in the Wild Card race, starting pitching needs to improve immensely. If it doesn’t, the 2019 season will more than likely go for naught.

Red Sox’ Nathan Eovaldi Strikes out Side in Scoreless Second Inning in Rehab Outing with Triple-A Pawtucket

After being sent out on a rehab assignment earlier in the day, Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi twirled a scoreless second inning for Triple-A Pawtucket in their game against the Louisville Bats, the Triple-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, on Tuesday morning.

Seeing his first real in-game action since April 17th, the 29-year-old needed 19 pitches, 11 of which were strikes, to punch out the side on Tuesday. He also yielded a one-out walk and allowed that runner to advance to third on a passed ball and balk in consecutive order, but was able to strand said runner.

According to the PawSox’ Mike Monaco, Eovaldi topped out at 98 MPH with his four-seam fastball and 94 MPH with his cutter. Monaco also notes that Eovaldi got a pair of strikeouts looking on his curveball, a pitch he threw two times.

Placed on the 10-day injured list on April 20th and transferred to the 60-day IL on June 25th, Eovaldi underwent successful arthroscopic surgery to remove loose bodies in his right elbow back in April.

The initial plan was for Eovaldi to rejoin the Red Sox rotation once healthy, but that changed earlier this month when manager Alex Cora announced that the righty would move to the bullpen.

Since Thursday appeared to go well for Eovaldi, the likeliest outcome is that he will be activated off the injured list sometime this weekend while the Sox are in Baltimore.

In eight career regular season appearances as a reliever, the Texas native is 1-0 with a 3.21 ERA and .188 batting average against over 14 total innings pitched.

This past Saturday, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski likened Eovaldi’s return to a trade deadline acquisition, saying that, “We are going to add Nathan Eovaldi. For some reason, people seem to, not, like, grasp on to that. He’s a big addition for us coming and we feel he’ll be ready to go within about a week to join us on a full-time basis out there.” 

Given where he is at, it will be interesting to see whether or not Cora uses Eovaldi in high-leverage situations out of the ‘pen immediately, or instead opts to ease his pitcher back into things.

Red Sox Acquire Right-Hander Andrew Cashner in Trade with Orioles

Before taking on the Los Angeles Dodgers in the second of a three-game weekend series on Saturday night, the Red Sox acquired right-handed pitcher Andrew Cashner in a three-player trade with the Baltimore Orioles. The club made the transaction official earlier Saturday.

Cashner, 32, had started 17 games for Baltimore this season, where he posted a 3.83 ERA and .234 batting average against over 96 1/3 total innings pitched.

With a contract that runs through 2019 and has a team option attached for 2020, Cashner appears to be the man to take over the fifth spot in the Red Sox’ starting rotation.

Originally signing a two-year, $16 million deal with the Orioles in February of 2018, the Texas native had a rough first go around in his first full season with Baltimore, posting an ERA of exactly 5.00 in 28 outings, but has rebounded nicely so far this year. That much is evident by his 1.41 ERA and .168 batting average against in five starts since the beginning of June.

When all the dust is settled, expect Sox manager Alex Cora’s rotation to look something like this:

Chris Sale
David Price
Rick Porcello
Andrew Cashner
Eduardo Rodriguez

In his career at Fenway Park, Cashner is 1-1 with an ERA of 7.20 over a small sample size of two starts and just 10 innings pitched.

On the other side of this trade, Boston sent two minor leaguers in the form of 17-year-old infielder Noelberth Romero and 17-year-old outfielder Elio Prado. Both signed as international free agents out Venezuela during last year’s signing period and both were assigned to the Red Sox’ Dominican Summer League team.

Per president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, Cashner’s first start in a Red Sox uniform will come on Tuesday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Red Sox and Mets Engaged in ‘Early Trade Talks’ Regarding Right-Hander Zack Wheeler

On the same day rumors broke out that the Red Sox were looking to add to their starting rotation, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman reported on Tuesday that the Sox and New York Mets have had trade talks regarding right-hander Zack Wheeler.

Sherman cites that, “the [trade] talks were described as in the early stages and that Boston is not the only club with whom the Mets are discussing Wheeler.”

Wheeler, 29, is set to become a free agent for the first time following the 2019 season, a season in which the righty has posted a not-so-nice 4.69 ERA and 3.81 xFIP through 19 starts and 119 total innings pitched.

As things stand right now at the All-Star break, the Mets have the second-worst record in the National League at 40-50. They are 3-7 in their last 10 games, and are using their first three contests out of the break against the Miami Marlins to determine whether they should be sellers ahead of the July 31st trade deadline, per a club official.

During the 2018/19 offseason, the Mets added two Red Sox execs to their own executive staff, with former Sox senior vice president of player personnel Allard Baird coming on as vice president and assistant GM of scouting and player development, and former vice president of player personnel Jared Banner coming on as executive director of player development under general manager Brodie Van Wagenen.

With that, the Mets probably have a solid idea of what prospects Boston has to offer in any potential trade for Wheeler.

Sherman also notes that Wheeler was made availabe at last year’s deadline as well, and you have to figure that the clubs that miss out on names such as Madison Bumgarner or Marcus Stroman this year will be in on the Mets hurler.

Since these trade talks are only in the early stages, it seems likely that more information will become available if/when these rumors heat up, so stay tuned for that.

Red Sox Reportedly ‘Casting Wide Net’ in Search of Adding Starting Pitcher Before Trade Deadline

The Red Sox are reportedly ‘pushing’ to add a starting pitcher, and they are looking to do it ‘sooner rather than later,’ according to the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

This report comes less than a week after Sox manager Alex Cora announced that right-hander Nathan Eovaldi would be moving to the bullpen once he is activated off the injured list in the coming weeks.

With that impending move to the ‘pen, Eovaldi’s spot in the rotation, which had been occupied by the likes of Brian Johnson, Hector Velazquez, Ryan Weber, and so on, became more of a pressing area of improvement for Boston.

Per ESPN.com, the Red Sox’ rotation owns an ERA of 4.70 and batting average against of .257, the seventh and eighth best in the American League, respectively.

Last Friday, when speaking with The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said, “We built our ballclub for (the starting rotation) to be our strong suit. I don’t think it’s been what we expected or hoped.”

Dombrowski also added that, “They’re a very talented group of pitchers…They’re the guys who are supposed to carry us, really. That’s why I think they’ve been fine. They’ve been okay. But I can’t say they’ve really carried us at any point.”

Names the Red Sox could pursue in trade talks include San Francisco Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner and Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman, although they are more of the premium targets.

Detroit Tigers southpaw Matthew Boyd and Texas Rangers left-hander Mike Minor, two hurlers Boston was scouting late last month, could be made available as well, but it has been reported that Boyd has a high asking price, while the Rangers remain in contention for a wild card spot.

The situation the Red Sox are in reminds me of what happened last season right before the club acquired Eovaldi from the Tampa Bay Rays. All the speculation pointed to the Sox pursuing a reliever like Zach Britton to bolster their bullpen, but they went out and traded for a starter instead.

We’ll just have to wait and see what Dombrowski has in mind leading into the July 31st trade deadline, and how said plans could affect any luxury tax implications.

Nathan Eovaldi Will Move to Bullpen Once Healthy, Says Red Sox Manager Alex Cora

After it was reported by NESN’s Tom Caron on Monday that Nathan Eovaldi will become the Red Sox’ closer when he returns from the injured list, manager Alex Cora made things official in Toronto on Tuesday, stating that the right-hander will move to the bullpen once he is healthy.

Although there was no clear indication that Eovaldi will serve as a traditional closer for Boston, this moves come at a time when the Sox’ bullpen has been under heavy scrutiny lately, especially during this past weekend’s series against the New York Yankees in London.

Since June 20th, Red Sox relievers have posted a cumulative 8.73 ERA and .321 batting average against over their last eight games played, both the worst in all of baseball in that span.

Eovaldi, 29, last recorded a save on June 14, 2009, more than 10 years ago, when he was a prospect in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization and pitching for the Class-A Great Lakes Loons.

In eight career big league appearances as a reliever, the Texas Native owns a lifetime 3.21 ERA and .188 batting average against over 14 total innings of work.

The Red Sox this season lead the American League in blown saves with 17 in 34 opportunities, so the need is obviously there to bolster the back end of a struggling bullpen.

Matt Barnes was viewed as the man who would see the most high leverage opportunities for Boston, but now it appears that role will shift over to Eovaldi once he returns from the IL.

One problem that comes into light once this move is made would be the Sox’ starting rotation.

Eovaldi inked a four-year, $68 milliion deal with Boston back in December to be a starter, he said as much during his press conference at the baseball winter meetings in Las Vegas.

Moving Eovaldi to the ‘pen would leave the Red Sox with the same issue they have been trying to deal with in the righty’s absence, that being the fifth and final spot in the rotation.

So far, names such as Brian Johnson, Hector Velazquez, Josh Smith, and Ryan Weber have made spot starts for Boston, and none have ran into a great deal of success in that role.

When speaking with MLB Network Radio on Tuesday, Cora did not rule out the possibility of Eovaldi returning to the starting rotation later in the season.

Out since the middle of April while recovering from right elbow surgery to remove loose bodies from the area, Eovaldi could be back sooner rather than later now that he will not have to ramp up his workload.

There’s also no guarantee that the former 11th round pick, who as already mentioned has no real closing experience, will be a shutdown reliever once he makes his return. How will his elbow react to working multiple times in a week, compared to just once every five days? That much is unknown.

This all goes to show how unprepared the Red Sox were for the 2019 season. They lost two key pieces of their World Series-winning bullpen in Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel, and did almost nothing to address it outside of acquiring Colten Brewer.