The Red Sox announced that reliever Tyler Danish has been placed on the 15-day injured list with a right forearm strain. To take his place on the active roster, they have selected the contract of righty Michael Feliz. They already had a vacancy on the 40-man roster due to Hansel Robles being designated for assignment recently. However, the news from today that’s most likely to intrigue fans of the club relates to the starting rotation.
The Red Sox are dealing with a rash of injuries to their starting staff, with Nathan Eovaldi, Garrett Whitlock and Rich Hill all currently on the injured list. Michael Wacha also missed his last start due to a “heavy arm,” creating another hole in the rotation. Manager Alex Cora tells reporters, including Steve Hewitt of the Boston Herald, that the extra rest hasn’t led to Wacha’s arm recuperating as hoped, meaning it’s possible he joins the others on the IL.
This will have a few ripple effects for the team, one of which seems to be Chris Sale being activated to make his season debut on Tuesday. “He’ll pitch Tuesday,” Cora said, per Ian Browne of MLB.com. “Somewhere, he’ll pitch Tuesday, but there’s a good chance he’ll pitch with us.” Sale threw 72 pitches in his most recent rehab start, and the club is apparently pleased enough with the results that he could be back in the big leagues in a few days.
The return of Sale is tremendous news for Red Sox fans, as he has missed the entirety of the season thus far due to a stress fracture in his rib cage. It’s been a few years since the club has seen Sale at his best, as he missed the entirety of 2020 due to Tommy John surgery. Though he was able to return and throw 42 2/3 innings last year, the results were diminished, at least when compared to his elite levels of previous years. A 3.16 ERA and 28.4% strikeout rate are still very good numbers, but Sale’s ERA was under 3.00 in 2017 and 2018, along with strikeout rates above 36%. Since those 42 2/3 innings are all he’s tallied since the end of the 2019 campaign, it’s fair to wonder what level the 33-year-old will be at in his return. Still, even if there’s a bit of rust, he’ll surely be a welcome addition to the banged-up pitching staff.
Another side effect of the mounting injuries is that Brayan Bello seems to be getting another turn in the rotation. Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom spoke about the matter on The Greg Hill Show (hat tip to Ken Laird of WEEI) and said that Bello will not be moved to the bullpen. Cora then told Browne today that Bello is likely getting another start this week. The injury situation created the opportunity for the prospect to get called up, though he had an uninspiring debut against the Rays, allowing four earned runs in four innings, with six hits, three walks and just two strikeouts.
There is some help on the way, however, as Browne relays that both Whitlock and Eovaldi are starting rehab stints in the coming days. Though Eovaldi will return to the rotation once healthy, Whitlock seems ticketed for bullpen work. Cora told reporters a few days ago that Whitlock was “pretty much likely” going to be coming on in relief in his return.
All things considered, it seems the outlook for the staff should improve in the weeks to come. However, the one bit of bad news in all this relates to Danish. He has been quietly solid in his first MLB action since 2018, throwing 31 1/3 innings for the Red Sox this year with a 4.02 ERA, 19.2% strikeout rate, 6.2% walk rate and 43% ground ball rate. The Sox haven’t provided any estimates on his expected absence, though the fact that his injury is being described as a forearm strain is potentially ominous. A forearm strains is often a precursor to Tommy John surgery, though that’s not true in all cases.
As for Feliz, 29, he was signed to a minor league deal in the offseason and has spent the year in Triple-A thus far. He’s made 18 appearances, which includes three starts, though they were of the opener variety, never logging more than two innings in any of them. Through 24 2/3 innings on the season, he has a 3.28 ERA, 27.7% strikeout rate, 8.9% walk rate and 54.8% ground ball rate.
With a record of 45-37, the Sox are 14 games behind the Yankees in the AL East but are still in possession of one of the three Wild Card slots. With less than four weeks to the August 2 deadline, they will surely be on the lookout for available arms to help them bolster this snakebitten group.