Red Sox

Brian Johnson gave Red Sox a 'chance to win' in best recent outing from a fifth starter

Brian Johnson gave Red Sox a 'chance to win' in best recent outing from a fifth starter

For the first time in quite a while, the Boston Red Sox were able to get a quality outing from their fifth starter.

Against the Toronto Blue Jays in just his second start since returning from the IL, Sox starter Brian Johnson lasted five innings and gave up zero earned runs. He departed the ball game with a 6-1 lead and did exactly what Alex Cora wanted.

“That’s what we were looking for,” Cora said, per Julian McWilliams of The Boston Globe. “Go five innings, go six, and give us a chance to win and he did.”

While Johnson did give the team a chance to win, he ended up earning the no-decision as the bullpen blew the five-run advantage. The four pitchers the Red Sox used after Johnson combined to allow seven earned runs and walk five batters. Matt Barnes blew the team's 15th save, tied for most in the league with Oakland. The Red Sox ended up losing the game by a final score of 8-7.

The result was certainly one of the Red Sox' most disappointing losses of the season. Especially considering that Johnson stepped up, as Cora pointed out. 

“It’s very important in the fifth spot to have someone step up and give us length,” Cora said, per McWilliams. “We’ve been going through this the whole season and it was good to see him go out there and compete at that level. He’s a good pitcher. We know the last [start] in Baltimore, he was coming from a rehab assignment and it’s not the same thing. You saw today he was a little bit better.”

Getting length from the team's fifth starter certainly has been an issue this season. Since Nathan Eovaldi went on the IL in late April with an elbow issue, Rex Sox spot starters including Johnson, Hector Velazquez, Ryan Weber, Josh Smith, and Darwinzon Hernandez have combined to start 13 games. Only three of their outings have lasted five innings or longer, and Johnson's start against the Blue Jays on Saturday was one of them.

Needless to say, it was frustrating to see the team's bullpen squander a quality outing from a fifth starter.

Still, Johnson's outing is a major positive for the Red Sox. Johnson was a solid spot starter last season and posted a 4-3 record and a 4.15 ERA in 13 starts. It looks like he's back on track to be that same kind of role player and lefthanded bullpen on for the squad. If he can keep pitching as he did on Saturday, he will certainly do a lot to lessen the blow of Eovaldi's absence.

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MLB Rumors: Red Sox 'showing active interest' in Kirby Yates and Ken Giles

MLB Rumors: Red Sox 'showing active interest' in Kirby Yates and Ken Giles

It's no secret the Red Sox need to address their less-than-stellar bullpen and starting rotation at the July 31 trade deadline if they hope to make a run toward the postseason. 

They have already reportedly looked at Madison Bumgarner and Marcus Stroman as starting options while Toronto's Daniel Hudson is a reported target for some bullpen help. 

Keeping with the theme of potential bullpen additions, the Red Sox reportedly have 'active interest' in Padres closer Kirby Yates and Blue Jays closer Ken Giles, according to Jon Morosi

Both have been very good closers this season for their respective clubs, who could both be sellers at the deadline. Yates, 32, leads the National League in saves with 31 to go with a 1.07 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 40 appearances. 

Giles, 29, hasn't bee as good as Yates this year by the numbers with only 14 saves. But a 1.64 ERA in 33 games and electric stuff would certainly be a welcome addition in the Boston bullpen. The Red Sox are in no place to be picky. 

Acquiring a closer would be a curious move considering the Sox' plan to use Nathan Eovaldi as the full-time closer. Of course, they could bring a legitimate closer to open up a return to the rotation for Eovaldi, but it would be odd to get a closer before getting a good look at Eovaldi in that role. 

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MLB Rumors: Red Sox among teams to evaluate Blue Jays reliever Daniel Hudson

MLB Rumors: Red Sox among teams to evaluate Blue Jays reliever Daniel Hudson

As the July 31 trade deadline quickly approaches, the Red Sox will need to bolster their bullpen and starting rotation if they want to make another run at back-to-back World Series championships. 

They already have reported interest in starters like Madison Bumgarner and Marcus Stroman, and now they seem to have eyes on some much-needed bullpen help. 

According to Jon Morosi, the Red Sox are among teams evaluated Blue Jays reliever Daniel Hudson as several clubs have shown interest in trading for the 32-year-old right-hander. 

Hudson has appeared in 40 games this season for Toronto, posting a 2.72 ERA and 42 strikeouts over 43 innings. Morosi notes that over his last 16 outings, Hudson has been excellent, sporting a 0.93 ERA. 

The Red Sox are expected to be buyers at the trade deadline, with their biggest needs on the mound. If they expect to make any sort of run in the postseason or get into the playoffs for that matter, they will need to acquire pitchers. Hudson could go a long way in stabilizing what has been a disastrous group of relievers this season. 

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