The Red Sox swapped a pair of right-handers between Boston and Triple-A Worcester this morning, the team announced, optioning Connor Seabold and recalling Kutter Crawford. Seabold had made his third big-league start yesterday against the Cubs, tossing four innings of one-run ball.
The move gives manager Alex Cora an extra arm while his team deals with a spate of injuries in rotation: in addition to the long-term absences of Chris Sale and James Paxton, Rich Hill, Nathan Eovaldi, and Garrett Whitlock are all on the 15-day IL while Michael Wacha is, per Jen McCaffrey of The Athletic, dealing with a dead arm that may require an IL stint. Because optioned players are allowed to return at any time if replacing a player headed to the IL, Seabold could return to start late in the week should Wacha — who last pitched on June 28th — need more time.
While Cora might have to make some uncomfortable decisions in the short term, there could be help on the way. While neither Whitlock nor Eovaldi is yet close to returning, Sale, who’s yet to pitch this season due to a stress fracture in his ribcage (and who’s covered only 42 2/3 innings since 2019, all of them last year), has already made one rehab start and is scheduled for another on Wednesday, and consensus top 100 prospect Brayan Bello appears likely to make his big-league debut the same day after Cora told reporters (including McCaffrey) that he’s probably the best option currently pitching in Worcester.
After hitting a bit of a rough patch in his first taste of Double-A last year, the 23-year-old Bello has tossed 85 innings 2.33 ERA ball across 15 appearances (14 starts) between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Worcester. His excellent ERA is backed up by a stellar strikeout rate (33.7%), though his walk rate (9.8%) leaves a bit to be desired.
Crawford, who’s struggled while shuttling between both Boston and Worcester and bullpen and rotation this year, could also be an option to start, though he likely won’t be Cora’s first choice. In 21 2/3 career big-league innings, he’s logged an unsightly 7.89 ERA (5.66 FIP). He has consistently missed bats at every level in the minors, however, and given the tattered state of the Boston pitching staff, he may well get an extended opportunity to do so in the bigs.