Red Sox

Brock Holt likely to be activated from the IL in coming days

Brock Holt likely to be activated from the IL in coming days

After missing almost a month and a half with eye and shoulder injuries, Brock Holt will soon be making his return to the Boston Red Sox. The team is likely to activate him from the IL either Monday or Tuesday, according to manager Alex Cora.

Holt was hitting just .063 to start the season, but part of that was due to an eye injury he suffered just before Opening Day. His son, Griff, poked him in the eye and Holt was having trouble picking up spin on the ball as a result. That's what led him to his first rehab assignment. There, he suffered a shoulder injury that has derailed him a bit longer than many had anticipated. But now, he's ready to come back.

Holt's return as the top utility man will give the Boston bench a boost. They have been operating with only three hitters (at most) on the bench for the season, as Cora has opted to keep at least 13 pitchers on the roster to shore up their uncertain bullpen. Holt's ability to play anywhere will give Cora more options about when to rest his players, and he will give the team a lefthanded bat on the bench as well.

“We can move Michael Chavis to first if needed,” Cora said per Jason Mastrodonato of The Boston Herald. Holt “can play the outfield, he can play short, so we’ll use him the same way we did last year. Obviously he’s a bat off the bench when he doesn’t play that matches up well against righties, so it gives us multiple options now on the bench.

“You’ve got Pearce, you’ve got Nunez, you’ve Holt when he doesn’t play, so it’s a little bit tougher for the opposition to match up with us late in games.”

It's unclear exactly what the corresponding move to adding Holt would be. The team has seemingly delayed adding Holt to the roster because of their need of bullpen depth in wake of David Price's 15-pitch outing on Saturday. But perhaps after Sunday's game, the team will option Travis Lakins or the recently called up Darwinzon Hernandez to the minors to get Holt back on the roster. If the Sox do that, it will mark the first time this year that the team will carry less than 13 pitchers on the roster.

We'll soon see what the Sox plan on doing, but definitely keep an eye on Holt in the coming days.

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Nathan Eovaldi shelled in first start for the Red Sox since April

Nathan Eovaldi shelled in first start for the Red Sox since April

With Chris Sale headed to the injured list, the Red Sox needed their $68 million pitcher Nathan Eovaldi to step up and fill the void.

Alex Cora expressed his confidence in him returning from a brief stint in the bullpen, and pitching against the lowly Orioles is a good way to re-acclimated yourself. 

It didn't go as planned for Eovaldi and the Red Sox Sunday. The hard-throwing righty pitched just two innings and gave up five earned runs on a home run, a double a single, and two wild pitches. It was his first start since April 17.

Not much has been going right for the Red Sox rotation this season after a dream campaign in 2018, and as the team's chances of making the postseason lessen every day, it's staff continues to get hit by the injury bug. 

Oh, and the Red Sox haven't announced a starter for Tuesday's game against the Phillies. 

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Chris Sale's injury is only the start of a potential catastrophe in the Red Sox rotation

Chris Sale's injury is only the start of a potential catastrophe in the Red Sox rotation

BOSTON -- It turns out Dave Dombrowski flunked a test with only wrong answers, unless you count nihilism, and who chooses that? It would be like sitting for the SATs and immediately setting the Scantron sheet on fire.

Was Dombrowski really supposed to walk away from every member of a World Series-winning rotation? Of course not. But it's looking more and more like he shouldn't have kept any of them, either. That's what Starfleet cadets would call a Kobayashi Maru -- an unwinnable scenario that may very well cost Dombrowski his job.

Saturday's news that erstwhile ace Chris Sale is headed to the injured list with elbow inflammation surely set off the hull breach alarms at Fenway Park. Not only has Sale endured a trying season -- posting the worst record (6-11) and ERA (4.40) of his career -- but his $145 million contract extension doesn't even kick in until next season.

Next on Sale's agenda is a visit Dr. James Andrews, the famed orthopedist. Sometimes those exams yield good news, like when David Price learned about his unique Wolverine elbow, which has mostly held up since 2017. But Andrews is often a harbinger of Tommy John doom, which means we must steel ourselves for the possibility that Sale doesn't pitch again until 2021.

Nothing like writing off Year 1 of a nine-figure investment. The issue extends well beyond Sale, though, because outside of cost-controlled left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, every member of the rotation looks like a bad investment. The Red Sox will feel the repercussions of those decisions for years to come, with the unreliable and overpaid trio of Price, Nathan Eovaldi, and Sale on the books through 2022, 2022, and 2024, respectively.

We can't sit here and say no one saw this coming. Those of us who hated the Sale contract when he signed it this spring pointed to the way last season ended, with the left-hander virtually useless for the final three months because of a shoulder injury. He closed out the World Series, but it's telling that the Red Sox weren't comfortable using him until they had built a four-run lead in the ninth.

Owner John Henry had long opposed long-term contracts for pitchers in their 30s, at least until he blew the John Lester negotiations in 2014. Since then he has committed $217 million to Price, $145 million to Sale, and $68 million to Eovaldi, who doesn't turn 30 until February, but came with more red flags than a Chinese military parade.

Price represents a sunk cost at this point, and at least he played a starring role in last year's title, but the odds of him becoming more durable over the final three years and $96 million of his contract feel remote. His misanthropic behavior has turned off members of the organization at every level, but good luck moving on from that money. Despite his ability, he might as well be radioactive, especially with wrist tightness sending him to the IL and durability concerns following him like Pigpen's cloud of dust.

Then there's Eovaldi. For eight years, he delivered more promise than results. Then came three magical weeks in October, when ability and opportunity coalesced into a run of dominance that transformed him from a fringe free agent swingman to a starter in demand. The $68 million contract he signed is probably triple what he would've commanded if the Red Sox had missed the playoffs.

The Eovaldi deal felt like an overpay based on the emotion and euphoria of a title. The Red Sox ignored not only a history of arm surgery, including two Tommy Johns, but one of mediocrity, too. Eovaldi's lifetime ERA of 4.22 and strikeout rate of 6.9 suggested a pitcher whose results never matched his talent.

He lasted only four starts this April before undergoing yet another surgery to clean loose bodies out of his elbow. He has bounced around the bullpen since returning and is now being used as an opener, no one's idea of a good use of $17 million.

The only pitcher Dombrowski got right was Rick Porcello, whom he never seriously considered re-signing. The 30-year-old right-hander is statistically one of the worst starters in baseball, and the Red Sox will look to upgrade his rotation spot this winter.

Unfortunately, with the benefit of hindsight, we now know that Dombrowski's best approach would've been entirely impractical: let Eovaldi walk, watch Sale pitch out his contract, and try to find takers for Price and Porcello.

With the Duck Boat tracks still fresh on the warning track and champagne still soaking everyone's hair, Dombrowski decided to bring the band back.

It's hard to blame him, but oh man, has it cost him.

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