Red Sox

Red Sox having difficulty attracting additional pitching depth

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Red Sox having difficulty attracting additional pitching depth

The Red Sox have had an eye on adding pitching depth in the form of minor-league free agents, according to a baseball source. But, in a situation similar to last year, they’re not the most appealing destination for veteran free agents because opportunity in the big leagues appears scarce.

Perhaps that may change. For one, spring training is more than halfway gone. Two, the Red Sox may be able to provide more opportunity than originally thought, at least at the outset of the season. 

Drew Pomeranz, Eduardo Rodriguez and Steven Wright could all start the year on the disabled list. That leaves opportunity for some combination of Brian Johnson, Hector Velazquez and Roenis Elias. They're not proven commodities, and if two or even three are in the big leagues, new opportunities are created at Triple-A Pawtucket. And any further health situation could create more opportunity at either level.

The free-agent market’s frozen state had a trickle-down effect to the minor leagues, stalling many players beyond the biggest names. The Sox last year had Kyle Kendrick in camp as something of a reclamation project. The righty did make it to the big leagues with the Sox, although he didn't pitch well.
 

Pomeranz says issue is 'clear-cut,' but mystery is unsolved

Pomeranz says issue is 'clear-cut,' but mystery is unsolved

PHILADELPHIA — Drew Pomeranz’s story at this point is less about the Red Sox and more about the individual, and it’s a minor mystery.

Theoretically, the free-agent-to-be can still find a way to help the Sox down the stretch. Eat some innings, look a little better. But barring a dramatic turnaround or a strange situation elsewhere on the pitching staff, he’s not sniffing the postseason roster.

The lefty's ERA rose to 6.34 on Wednesday night in a 7-4 Red Sox loss to the Phils, after he allowed three earned runs in an inning of work. He faced eight batters, allowed three hits and one walk with one strikeout.

Pomeranz has been so much better than this in past seasons. And he's too young, 29, for his stuff to just disappear. 

Alex Cora left Pomeranz in the game as trouble grew, the manager said, because he wanted to see how Pomeranz would fare in a late-inning relief role. The other part: Matt Barnes and Tyler Thornburg were both unavailable because of workload, per the manager. (Neither has pitched since the weekend, but Barnes did throw three straight days in Baltimore, while Thornburg — who briefly warmed up on Thursday, before Cora went a different direction — is coming back from surgery. The Sox have the division padding to be cautious.)

The most difficult thing to accept is that Pomeranz is healthy. His velocity this year is the lowest of his career, 89.59 mph entering Thursday night, per BrooksBaseball.net.

He was at 91.78 mph in 2017, at 91.93 in 2016 and had a career-high 93.08 in 2015. His stuff isn’t playing up in any notable way out of the ‘pen now, either.

“I feel fine, like I said it’s something that I started doing at the end of last year, started drifting this way,” Pomeranz reiterated to NBC Sports Boston. “I’ve just been kind of stuck in that. I’ve done a thousand things to try and get out of it. I don’t know what it is, but, you know it’s something I’m definitely focusing on every single day, catch. I don’t know, something’s going to click eventually. That’s what I’m waiting for. Other than that I feel healthy. Health-wise, I feel fine."

There wouldn’t be much logic in Pomeranz maintaining he is healthy if he is not. Any team interested in him this winter will get a chance to review his medicals. Were he to hypothetically hide something, there wouldn’t be much potential gain — not at this point in the year, when salvaging his season to the point of a major payday is unlikely.

Pomeranz said his impending free agency hasn’t weighed on him.

“I don’t think so,” Pomeranz said. "I’ve pretty much narrowed it down, that it’s the main reason. It’s pretty clear-cut. You talk to [Brian] Bannister and look at my data, my release point’s short of what it’s been the last two years. And that just goes along with me blocking myself off. Open up, then you can reach out and get better extension and that’s pretty much what’s happening so."

Perhaps Pomeranz really can’t get his mechanics right for a reason that has nothing to do with health. But to lose a couple miles per hour on his fastball the whole season just for mechanics is an uncommon situation. Whether and when and how he proves that to be the case will be interesting to watch, even if it’s not with the Sox. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Red Sox win streak ends at five with loss to Phillies, 7-4

Red Sox win streak ends at five with loss to Phillies, 7-4

PHILADELPHIA - Wilson Ramos had three extra-base hits and three RBIs, helping the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Boston Red Sox 7-4 on Wednesday night in his first game with his new team.

The Phillies, who remained two games behind first-place Atlanta in the NL East, split a two-game interleague series with the major league-leading Red Sox for the second time in three weeks.

Seven relievers combined to allow one unearned run in 6 2/3 innings for Philadelphia. Tommy Hunter (4-2) earned the win by getting one out in the sixth. Seranthony Dominguez got the last four outs for his 13th save in 16 chances.

Ramos, the two-time All-Star catcher acquired from Tampa Bay on July 31, made a big impact after missing a month because of a strained hamstring. He hit his second career triple and first in seven years leading off the bottom of the sixth, chugging around the bases after his liner off Joe Kelly (4-1) to right-center took an odd bounce off the wall.

Ramos scored on pinch-hitter Scott Kingery's sacrifice fly to give the Phillies a 4-3 lead. He hammered a two-run double with two outs in the seventh off Drew Pomeranz to extend the lead to 6-3 and scored on Maikel Franco's single.

Down 3-0, the Phillies rallied in the fourth against Nathan Eovaldi. Ramos hit an RBI double off the top of the fence in right and Nick Williams scored on Odubel Herrera's RBI groundout. With two outs, pinch-hitter Carlos Santana ripped an RBI single past second baseman Brock Holt positioned in shallow right to tie it at 3.

Eovaldi allowed three runs - one earned - and seven hits in five innings during his fourth start for the Red Sox.

Phillies starter Vince Velasquez lasted only 2 1/3 innings, allowing three runs, four hits and four walks. Velasquez ran into trouble in the third when he walked Eovaldi with one out and hit Andrew Benintendi with a pitch. Holt reached on an infield single to load the bases and Mitch Moreland lined a three-run double to left-center that skipped past Herrera and cleared the bases.

Velasquez was pulled after he walked J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts to load the bases again. Hector Neris entered and escaped the jam by retiring Jackie Bradley Jr. on a shallow fly to right and striking out Rafael Devers.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE