Red Sox

McAdam: Relief-seeking Sox may need to go back to trade market

McAdam: Relief-seeking Sox may need to go back to trade market

BOSTON -- Now that the Red Sox have addressed their starting rotation needs -- with the acquisition of Drew Pomeranz and a much-improved performance from Eduardo Rodriguez -- another leak has sprung.

In the last two weeks, the Red Sox have placed three key bullpen arms on the disabled list. Junichi Tazawa, who had a shoulder injury, has been sidelined since July 3, though he's expected to be activated Friday. Craig Kimbrel, who underwent knee surgery, will be sidelined until well until August. And today they placed Koji Uehara on the DL because of a right pectoral strain that forced him out of Tuesday night's game after seven pitches.

It's unknown how serious the setback is, but it's safe to say Uehara will be unavailable for at least a little while.

Here it is, late July, and the Red Sox are, for the time being, without their three best relievers.

That means there's a good chance that Dave Dombrowski may have to re-assess his position from the night he landed Pomeranz, when he said the Red Sox were likely done with any significant trades with the deadline still 12 days away.

The earlier deal that netted them Brad Ziegler from Arizona looms even more significant now. Not only as Ziegler been highly effective in his set-up role to date with three scoreless appearances, but he may be asked to take on a bigger role with the absences of Kimbrel, Tazawa and Uehara.

For the time being, expect Ziegler to handle the closing duties, with Matt Barnes and Heath Hembree as the primary high-leverage options in the seventh and eighth innings.

Should Uehara require a stint on the DL, the Sox could replace him by speeding up Joe Kelly's return to the big-league roster. Kelly has been impressive as he transitions to the bullpen in Pawtucket, though he has little experience pitching in relief in the big leagues.

There's also the matter of roster spots. When the Sox activate Tazawa later this week, they'll face a tough call in creating space. Their choices would seem to come down to cutting ties with Clay Buchholz -- either dealing him, designating him for assignment or releasing him altogether -- or optioning Hembree to the minors.

Before Uehara got hurt Tuesday night, the Hembree option made the most sense, if for no other reason that it allowed the Sox to continue to control all the pitchers in question. Hembree has pitched well and deserves to stay, but as one of just two pitchers in the bullpen with remaining options -- Barnes is the other -- he might be a victim of the numbers game.

More interesting is what the Red Sox intend to do with Buchholz.

While he's done little to inspie confidence at any point this season with a 5.91 ERA and a WHIP of 1.488, Buchholz is, for now, the only depth starting option in the entire organization. Would the Sox let him go without having any suitable insurance in the event something happens to one of their five starters?

The situation will be clarified later Wednesday, when more is learned about the severity of Uehara's condition. But either way, the Sox face some tough calls and, perhaps, a commitment to sacrifice additional prospects in a deal for more bullpen help before the deadline.

Drellich: These Red Sox can do no wrong

Drellich: These Red Sox can do no wrong

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- We’re not firing on all cylinders yet. The scary thing is, we’re not even playing our best. Just wait until we really get going.

You’ve heard these phrases and their variants before. They’re typically worthless.

RED SOX 9, ANGELS 0

Someone is always performing poorly. Always. That’s life in a sport where the best teams lose 40 percent of the time, where the best hitters fail 7 times out of 10, and all the other cliches.

What may be most remarkable about the Red Sox’ 15-2 run is that for an extended time, we are seeing a baseball team actually bump up against its ceiling. They have four grand slams. There are two major- league teams that have only three wins.

They are actually playing their best.

“It’s very rare,” Alex Cora said Wednesday night, after becoming the first rookie manager in history to begin his career with 15 wins in 17 games. “There’s always something that is not going with the others. But right now, defense pitching and offense -- base running too. You know, we were aggressive today  [when Eduardo Nunez was thrown out trying to stretch a double] but we’ll take that one. We’re doing better. We’re doing a lot better. And I don’t know, man. It’s just, it’s just fun to watch.

“I know how good they are. But it’s just something about them, they make you feel confident. You show up every day to work, I enjoy it, I’m having a blast with them. Not only in the dugout, but in the clubhouse. It’s fun. It’s fun to be around them. It’s a good group, and we’re growing together, we’re learning together and you know, we’re going to keep getting better."

“All systems go” rarely has more validity as a description for a baseball team than it does the Red Sox at present.

MORE DRELLICH

“I’ve been fortunate to be on some good teams and I’m sure I have [had similar stretches], but not, I don’t think, to this extent, where we’re playing good defense, we’re throwing the ball so well,” said Mitch Moreland, who homered Wednesday night in a 9-0 win over the Angels. “We’re coming up with big hits. Everybody in the clubhouse has done something to help the team win. It might just be because it’s fresh on my mind, but it stands out as good a ball as I think I’ve been a part of in the big leagues.”

Imagine how good a team can be if everyone is healthy and performing well. (By the way, the Sox are missing Xander Bogaerts.) But the best 17-game start in the 118-year history of a franchise has been inclusive of virtually everyone. Even Blake Swihart is getting some at-bats in these blowouts. 

Perhaps the bullpen feels a little left out lately, because the Sox are romping. These are thoroughly dominating performances, led by starting pitching. Rick Porcello -- who we may now more often mention won a Cy Young award two years ago -- has one walk in four starts. He’s 4-0 with a 1.40 ERA.

Rafael Devers, meanwhile, is the youngest Sox player to hit a grand slam since Tony Conigliaro in 1965.

Things will change. They’ll get ugly at some point. For now, though, there’s no waiting to see what a team looks like when everything is actually working. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE


 

Red Sox continue rolling with 9-0 rout of Angels

Red Sox continue rolling with 9-0 rout of Angels

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Everything is going right for the Boston Red Sox, and it has propelled them to the best start in the franchise's long history.

Rafael Devers hit his first career grand slam, Rick Porcello threw six scoreless innings and the Red Sox improved to 15-1 since losing on opening day with a 9-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night.

Mitch Moreland had four RBI, including a two-run homer in the ninth, and J.D Martinez hit a solo shot in the seventh to help the Red Sox to their sixth consecutive win.

The Red Sox are the fifth team since the American League was established in 1901 to post at least 14 wins in their first 17 games.

"We've had a pretty good run at it here, pretty much the whole season so far," Moreland said. "It seems like one through nine, everybody is kind of stepping up. Obviously, been throwing the ball really well on the mound. Just playing a real complete game, a clean game right now."

Devers hit a home run for the second game in a row, putting his third of the season off the wall in right field just over the yellow line to make it 6-0 after Moreland singled to score Mookie Betts.

After getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the first, Porcello (4-0) cruised to his league-leading fourth win. He gave up six hits and struck out six without issuing a walk.

The Red Sox took a 1-0 lead in the first. Hanley Ramirez doubled to center, with the ball landing just past a leaping Mike Trout, and Moreland drove him in with a single to right.

"Our offense is really setting the tone right now and doing an incredible job. I mean, they are doing a great job of getting on their starter early," Porcello said. "The runs they are putting up, we're just going out there and attacking the strike zone and get outs and chew up as much of the game as possible."

Tyler Skaggs (2-1) gave up six runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings for the Angels, who have lost two straight following a seven-game winning streak.

The Angels have been outscored 19-1 through the first two games of the series.

"You're going to run into some waves like this where it just doesn't seem like you're putting things together, but we're a much better offensive team than in the last couple of years," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: SS Xander Bogaerts (ankle) took ground balls during batting practice, but manager Alex Cora said "there's no rush" to bring him back. . RHP Steven Wright (knee) will start at Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday. . LHP Bobby Poyner (hamstring) will be sent out on a rehab assignment soon, with weather likely determining where he will go.

Angels: Shohei Ohtani is expected to make his next start after being limited to two innings Tuesday because of a blister on the middle finger of his right hand. Ohtani will be available to hit against the Red Sox on Thursday. . RHP JC Ramirez underwent surgery to repair a torn UCL on Tuesday.

CALIFORNIA SUN

The Red Sox have not been good in the Pacific Time Zone, posting a .438 win percentage (89-114) when playing on the West Coast over the previous 16 seasons. After not winning a series at the Angels, Oakland or Seattle last season, they already have one under their belt.

AT HOME ON THE ROAD

Devers extended his road hitting streak to 12 games dating back to Sept. 18, 2017, and it was his fourth homer in that span. He has a hit in 19 of his last 21 road games going back to last season.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (1-0, 3.72) gave up one run in six innings against Baltimore on Friday. Rodriguez's only career start at Angel Stadium was a brief one, giving up seven runs in 1 2/3 innings in 2015.

Angels: RHP Nick Tropeano (1-0, 0.00) held Kansas City scoreless in 6 2/3 innings to get the win Thursday. Tropeano has never faced the Red Sox.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE