- Red Sox knuckleballer Steven Wright, out since June 26 with left knee inflammation, is closing in on a rehab assignment, manager Alex Cora told Christopher Smith of MassLive.com and other reporters. Wright will work out of Boston’s bullpen when he does return, Cora added. The 33-year-old Wright has served as a reliever in six of 10 appearances this season and registered a 3.38 ERA/4.49 FIP with 6.98 K/9, 4.5 BB/9 and a 53.2 percent groundball rate in 40 innings.
Red Sox Rumors
The Red Sox announced that they’ve placed left-handed ace Chris Sale on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to Aug. 15, with mild inflammation in his pitching shoulder. The club recalled righty Brandon Workman from Triple-A Pawtucket in a corresponding move.
Sale previously went to the DL on July 31 (retroactive to the 28th) with the same injury, which perhaps makes this an alarming development for Boston. However, given that the Red Sox own the American League’s best record by a comfortable 10 1/2 games, this may be a precautionary move on their part as the playoffs draw closer. The last time he hit the DL, Sale missed a limited amount of time, returning Aug. 12 to run roughshod over the toothless Orioles in a five-inning, one-hit, 12-strikeout performance.
With his latest outing factored in, Sale has pitched to a stunning 1.97 ERA/1.96 FIP with 13.5 K/9 against 2.03 BB/9 in 146 innings this season. Even though 13 other AL starters have racked up more innings than Sale, he paces the league in fWAR (6.0). The seven-time All-Star, 29, may be on his way to his first Cy Young Award, then, though an extended stay on the shelf could derail that effort.
- It was a mixed bag of injury news today for the Red Sox, who will send third baseman Rafael Devers to the 10-day disabled list while activating second bagger Ian Kinsler. No further roster moves will be necessary to accommodate the change. Devers is hitting the shelf for the third time in the last six weeks or so and it’s the second occasion as to which the hamstring is to blame. That said, it’s not clear that the organization really believes there’s cause for concern that Devers won’t be at full strength come October.
- Barring a significant turnaround, Drew Pomeranz’s disastrous season will likely leave him on the outside looking in when the postseason arrives, writes Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston. But the 29-year-old lefty isn’t blaming his struggles on poor health in spite of some notably diminished fastball velocity (as pointed out by Drellich). Rather, Pomeranz feels the source of his struggles is “clear-cut,” explaining to Drellich that he’s worked with Red Sox VP of pitching development Brian Bannister and determined that his release point is “short of what it’s been the last two years.” That may seem an overly simplistic explanation for a pitcher with a 6.34 ERA on the season, and after last night’s poor relief outing it’s clear that even if Pomeranz is aware of the issue, he’s still been unable to correct the flaw on a consistent basis. The impending free agent will have just under seven weeks to get back on track in an effort to not only improve his chances of making the postseason roster but also to salvage some of his free-agent stock in an otherwise nightmarish season.
Here are Wednesday’s minor moves from around the league…
- The Mariners purchased the contract of former big league lefty David Rollins from the Sussex County Miners of the independent Can-Am League, reports Tacoma Rainiers broadcaster Mike Curto. He’ll join the Mariners’ top affiliate in Tacoma. Rollins was starting for the Miners, having notched a 2.79 ERA, 8.4 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 through 113 innings, though he worked exclusively as a reliever in 31 Major League appearances with the Mariners back in 2015-16. Rollins has a 7.60 ERA in 34 1/3 innings at the big league level and also owns a 4.03 ERA with 7.6 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 in 102 2/3 innings of Triple-A work.
- Catcher Dan Butler cleared waivers after being designated for assignment by the Red Sox and was outrighted to Triple-A Pawtucket, tweets Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston. Butler appeared in just two games for the Sox and went 1-for-6 with a single and a sac fly. Between that showing and a brief cameo with the Sox back in 2014, Butler has hit .200/.222/.320 in 27 MLB plate appearances. In 1715 plate appearances at Triple-A across parts of nine seasons, he’s posted a .246/.332/.383 batting line and thrown out 30 percent of would-be base thieves.
The Red Sox announced that they’ve activated catcher/utilityman Blake Swihart from the 10-day disabled list and designated catcher Dan Butler for assignment to open a spot on the roster. Boston had selected the contract of Butler, 31, when Swihart hit the DL earlier this month. The organization will now have a week to trade Butler or run him through outright waivers.
Butler appeared in just two games for the Sox and went 1-for-6 with a single and a sacrifice fly in that short time. It marked his fist MLB action since a cup of coffee as a 27-year-old back in 2014. In all, Butler has just 27 MLB plate appearances, though he comes with plenty of experience at the Triple-A level. In 1715 plate appearances there across parts of nine seasons, he’s posted a .246/.332/.383 slash at that level. Butler, who has thrown out 30 percent of would-be base thieves in his minor league career, is out of minor league options, meaning any team that acquires him (via waivers or trade) him would have to keep him on the MLB roster.
- The Red Sox have activated left-hander Chris Sale from the 10-day disabled list, and he’ll take the hill today for a start against the Orioles. Righty Brandon Workman has been sent down to Triple-A to create a roster spot for Sale (Boston also sent down right-hander William Cuevas, who was the 26th man on the roster for yesterday’s double-header.) Sale’s DL placement was retroactive to July 28, and while he missed a bit more than the minimum 10 days, that was more due to some scheduling preferences than any further issue with the inflammation in his throwing shoulder. The ace southpaw is enjoying another outstanding season, with a league-best 2.04 ERA and 13.2 K/9 over 141 IP.
Today’s minor league moves from around baseball, with the newest transactions at the top of the post…
- The Diamondbacks outrighted infielder Deven Marrero to Triple-A, as per a team press release. Marrero was designated for assignment earlier this week. After being acquired by Arizona from the Red Sox back in March, Marrero appeared in 45 games for the D’Backs this season, hitting .167/.224/.205 over 85 PA. Selected by Boston as the 24th overall pick of the 2012 draft, Marrero has been able to reach the big leagues by virtue of his excellent defense, though he has never been particularly strong at the plate even at the minor league level.
- First baseman/outfielder Brock Stassi is joining the Giants organization after it purchased his contract from the New Britain Bees, Mike Ashmore of MyCentralJersey.com notes in a tweet. The 29-year-old Stassi cracked the majors last year with the Phillies for the first time, but didn’t hit enough to stick. He also struggled earlier this year at the Triple-A level with the Twins organization. Even as his younger brother, Astros catcher Max Stassi, has enjoyed a breakthrough MLB campaign, the elder Stassi found himself out of the affiliated ranks. Fortunately, he’s now back after destroying indy ball pitching to the tune of a .361/.458/.592 batting line.
- The powerhouse Red Sox roster has come at the expense of a rather depleted farm system, though president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski tells the Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato that it wasn’t his intent to deal away as many prospects in Boston as he did in his previous job as the Tigers’ GM. When the White Sox approached Dombrowski about dealing Chris Sale, however, it was an opportunity Dombrowski couldn’t pass up. “The Chris Sale trade came out of the blue, because we were not anticipating the White Sox (trying) to trade him and we wanted to get involved and we traded some talent,” Dombrowski said. While Boston has dealt a lot of blue chip talent, however, it was also firm in holding onto other youngsters that the Red Sox feel are cornerstone pieces, such as Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers. “I don’t think it was ever tempting to trade Devers,” Dombrowski said. “People continue to ask about him a lot. But we like him a lot, same thing with Benintendi.”
The move hardly comes as a surprise by measure of Pomeranz’ merit. After all, the lefty has walked more batters than he’s struck out in three starts since returning from his second stint on the disabled list already this season. On the whole, the 29-year-old has averaged fewer than five innings in his 11 starts on the season while pitching to an eye-popping 6.31 ERA (5.96 FIP). He currently owns a 1-5 record, and although that’s not the greatest measure of a pitcher’s talent, he also allowed at least four earned runs in four of those five losses.
The move will make room for the return of Chris Sale to the rotation when he ultimately returns from the DL this weekend, leaving Rick Porcello, David Price, Brian Johnson and the recently-acquired Nate Eovaldi to round out Boston’s starting five. Though Pomeranz certainly won’t intimidate many hitters coming out of bullpen if he continues to pitch the way he has, it’s interesting to point out that he’ll become the lone left-handed reliever that Sox have on hand. Though his overall 2018 performance has been thoroughly disastrous, a quick look at his splits show that Pomeranz has actually done a reasonable job at getting out opposing left-handed hitters. They own just a 3.61 FIP against him in a limited sample.
Of course, there’s not much in the way of a silver lining for Pomeranz himself. The timing of his struggles couldn’t be worse, as the southpaw is slated to hit free agency at season’s end and previously figured to be one of the most sought-after targets in a thin 2018-2019 free agent starting pitcher class. After some early-career struggles that led to somewhat of a journeyman adventure, Pomeranz caught fire with the Athletics in 2014 and went on to hurl 499 1/3 innings through the end of the 2017 season. During that span, he managed to consistently out-pitch his peripherals and earned a 3.24 ERA mark that bested his FIP by more than half a run. He also struck out more than a batter per inning during that time.
For now, though, it seems as though Pomeranz is destined to pitch out of the bullpen for the remainder of the season. In order to restore his free agent stock, he’ll need to pitch well enough to earn a place in Boston’s playoff rotation, and he’ll face a difficult battle in that area considering how little time he has to make that case.