Manager Alex Cora says that the Red Sox will move righty Andrew Cashner into a relief role, as Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com was among those to cover (Twitter links). For the time being, at least, the club will go with a four-man rotation.
Cashner is said to have accepted the demotion — not that he really had any choice in the matter. And it’d be hard to argue he deserves otherwise. In six outings since arriving via trade, Cashner carries a brutal 8.01 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 5.0 BB/9 over 30 1/3 innings.
This move comes as the Red Sox continue to sink in the Wild Card standings. With a 7.5-game deficit entering play today, and no end in sight to the veteran hurler’s struggles, the club can ill afford to keep running him out there every fifth game.
There are also some contractual elements at play here, as MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk recently explained. Cashner had an outside shot at triggering a vesting option provision had he made all of his remaining potential starts (and gone deep into every one of them). His most recent start, which lasted only 1 2/3 innings, all but eliminated that possibility. Today’s news buries it once and for all.
It’s unlikely the Boston organization really considered that factor in making today’s move, since it remained quite unlikely that Cashner would’ve made the innings tally required to turn the $10MM club option into a guaranteed 2020 salary. It was natural to bump Cashner from the rotation with so many upcoming off days. Indeed, Cora hinted that the club may at times even try to skip another starter — almost certainly, the scuffling Rick Porcello — over the next six weeks.
Now that Cashner is all but assured to return to the open market at season’s end, it raises the stakes for him over the stretch run. It will certainly be interesting to see whether he can change his fortunes in a relief role.