Red Sox

Tyler Thornburg, the other pitcher the Red Sox acquired

brewers-tyler-thornburg.jpg

Tyler Thornburg, the other pitcher the Red Sox acquired

It wasn’t even a day before the Tyler Thornburg acquisition was old news.

“I was talking to our media people about how long [the conference call] would be. You know, it should be like 20-25 minutes,” Thornburg said. “Then it might’ve been seven or eighth minutes and it was like, ‘No more questions.’ So I was like, ‘Thanks guys, whatever.’ And then [I] ended up getting on Twitter right after seeing that we acquired Chris Sale, and I was like ‘That would be why, might be more important.’”

Boston’s new reliever didn’t really stand a chance.

But he doesn’t expect the same fortune when he toes the rubber for the Red Sox this year as the eighth inning set-up man.

The right-hander broke out in 2016, posting a team-best 2.15 ERA and 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings. Those numbers are products of his mid-90s fastball and sharp curveball, which both generate swing-and-misses.

“He’s a strikeout machine,” Craig Kimbrel said on his new teammate. “The way the game’s going the strike-zone is getting smaller, so we’re going to strikeout out more guys and that’s part of the game.”

Now, that’s all good and well, but there’s one other question that still needs answering.

Can he do it at Fenway Park as a member of the Red Sox?

“I don’t really feel like it’s going to be one of those things that I think about too much,” Thornburg said. “I feel like any time you put a little more pressure on yourself, it tends to affect you.

“But it’s really not that big of a difference for me, I’ve thrown in Fenway. I threw on Opening Day in 2014 and pitched well, so hopefully that’s a sign of things to come.”

Much like Sale, Thornburg doesn’t seem too concerned about it. In fact after hearing both answer the same question, it’s arguable that Thornburg thought about the issue less than Sale.

But maybe that’s just because Sale gets asked more questions, given his first conference call went a little bit longer than seven or eight minutes.

Could Red Sox add another starter to fill out rotation? Here are their options

Could Red Sox add another starter to fill out rotation? Here are their options

As it stands now, the Boston Red Sox will enter the 2020 season with three starting pitchers.

That's not ideal, but it's the current reality after Thursday's news that Chris Sale will begin the year on the injured list.

So, how will the Red Sox fill out their rotation around Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi and newcomer Martin Perez?

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Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom said earlier this month the team will look to add more pitching depth, and the Sale development obviously hasn't changed that stance.

Sale only is expected to miss about two weeks, so the Red Sox don't seem ready to make a reactionary signing. But considering they don't have a fifth starter anyway, adding another arm makes sense.

Which begs the question: Who's still out there?

Here's a list of starting pitchers who remain unsigned, sorted by age (via MLB.com).

Aaron Sanchez (27)
Danny Salazar (30)
Matt Harvey (31)
Andrew Cashner (33)
Clay Buchholz (35)
Marco Estrada (36)
Clayton Richard (36)
Jason Vargas (37)

Doesn't inspire much confidence, does it?

The good news is that these pitchers could be signed for relative bargains. The bad news is that only two are 30 years old or younger and none posted very inspiring stat lines in 2019.

In fact, Buchholz isn't a terrible option compared to the rest of the list: The former Red Sox hurler struggled with the Toronto Blue Jays last season but sported a 2.01 ERA over 16 starts with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2018.

Given the dry free agent market, though, it's possible Boston could look to the trade market -- the club reportedly covets Cal Quantrill in trade talks with the San Diego Padres, although that deal seems unlikely -- or an internal solution.

Ryan Weber, Brian Johnson and Hector Velazquez are candidates for the fifth starter slot, and Darwinzon Hernandez could be a potential option down the road, although the Red Sox don't view him as a starter at the moment.

Long story short: Unless the Sox want to part with more assets in a trade, they won't be slotting a quality pitcher into their rotation anytime soon.

MLB odds: Rafael Devers among favorites to lead league in hits

MLB odds: Rafael Devers among favorites to lead league in hits

The Boston Red Sox lost some important offensive production this offseason when they traded Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers. But they should still have plenty of offense firepower in the upcoming year.

Between Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers, and Andrew Benintendi, the team should be able to field a productive, high-scoring unit.

And it's no surprise that one of the Sox' young stars is among the favorites to lead MLB in hits this season. Per DraftKings Sportsbook, Devers (+1300) has the fourth-best odds and trails only Jose Altuve, Nolan Arenado, and Whit Merrifield (all at +1200).

Devers ranked second in the league in hits last season. His mark of 201 base knocks trailed only Merriweather (206). Devers started the season rather slowly, too, so the it's well within the realm of possibility that he could generate more base knocks if he doesn't start with a slump.

This is especially possible given that Devers, 23, is so young yet already has two-and-a-half seasons of MLB experience. He may continue to improve ahead of his third full major league season. David Ortiz and Derek Jeter are among the stars that have voiced their confidence in Devers' abilities, so that would seemingly be a good sign for his upward trajectory.

Devers, 23, posted a .311 average, 32 homers, and 115 RBI for the Red Sox last season. He also played in 156 games, so he'll likely have to stay on the field often if he wants a chance to be the hits leader in 2020.