Steven Wright won’t pitch again in the ALDS, per Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston via Twitter. Wright, arbitration eligible for the second time this winter, returned in 2018 to post a 2.68 ERA (4.37 FIP) in sixteen relief appearances and four starts after losing most of 2017 to invasive surgery that repaired cartilage in his knee. The knuckleballer had an MRI after feeling discomfort in the surgically repaired knee before the game, making him a last minute scratch from Alex Cora’s bullpen in Friday’s ALDS game one, and he will see a knee specialist when the team arrives in New York. In an earlier piece, Drellich noted that Wright’s replacement on the ALDS roster would likely come from a pool of Bobby Poyner, Heath Hembree, Hector Velazquez or Brian Johnson. For last night at least, even Rick Porcello was surprised to hear his name called, per this fun peak behind the curtain from Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Boston manager Alex Cora recognized the need for improvisation during the playoffs – as using Porcello in relief was plan “C and a half.” The injury likely affects Boston’s playoff rotation, as mid-season acquisition Nathan Eovaldi could slide up a day to take Porcello’s scheduled start in game three if the latter isn’t ready to go on two days rest.
More from the Red Sox, Yankees ALDS…
- Drellich also writes that now might be the time for Matt Barnes to step up as the potential stopper the Red Sox need. With Craig Kimbrel an impending free agent, Barnes’ moment could extend through next season. Boston’s offseason decisions do not probably hinge on playoff performance – he’s been in the organization since 2011 and they likely have a sense for his abilities – but it’s an interesting narrative to track. The 28-year-old reliever would certainly be a cheaper option over Kimbrel – he’s arb eligible for the first time this offseason – and his stuff compares – Barnes’ 14.01 K/9, 4.52 BB/9, 53 GB% to Kimbrel’s 13.85 K/9, 4.48 BB/9, 28.2 GB % in 2018. Collecting saves in 2019 would certainly net Barnes a larger pay bump his second time through arbitration. For next season, however, he provides Boston with a lower-cost option to close out games.
- Across the diamond, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports Aaron Hicks aggravated his bothersome right hamstring Friday. Hicks was forced to leave the game after singling off Chris Sale in the fourth and was scheduled for an MRI. Hicks has struggled with a series of nagging injuries during his Yankees tenure, to his oblique, intercostal muscle and now his hamstring – which he injured on September 24th before being cleared of a tear two days later. Brett Gardner is likely to get the start in game two if Hicks can’t go. More concernedly for Hicks, hamstring injuries are notoriously tricky as they often lead to overcompensation and further injury down the line if tested too early. One hopes Hicks can get healthy and stay healthy, lest he earn the ever-ominous label of “injury prone” leading up to his 2019 free agency. Hicks will be arbitration eligible for the final time this offseason and due a raise after hitting .247/.368/.465 with a 127 wRC+.