Red Sox

Farrell: Nunez likely done for playoffs; says additional rest wouldn’t have helped

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Farrell: Nunez likely done for playoffs; says additional rest wouldn’t have helped

HOUSTON — Red Sox manager John Farrell does not think Eduardo Nunez would be in a better position physically now had the Sox decided not to bring him into game action in the regular season, on Sept. 25, with a little less than a week to go before the postseason.

The reason the Sox did bring him back then, Farrell said, was because they wanted Nunez around to try to lock up the American League East.

“The thinking was that we were still working towards clinching a division,” Farrell said Friday. “He had gone through every available means of rehab, test, testing him in simulated games, trying to get him back in the lineup in advance of the postseason. So, no, no regrets. And I recognize where Nunie’s comments where he felt like he did what he could do to get back in the lineup as soon as possible. So to say that that one game, knowing that there was a re-aggravation, if there are 10 additional days [of rest] prior to yesterday, I don’t know if the outcome is any different.”

Nunez’s right knee is to be evaluated further with an MRI in Boston. He’s off the roster, and his replacement, Chris Young, started at DH on Friday against lefty Dallas Keuchel. 

Either way, Farrell does not expect Nunez will be back this postseason. Nunez would be eligible to return to the roster in the World Series, but even if the Sox make it, he probably wouldn’t be ready to go.

“He needs time,” Farrell said. “This thing needs to heal.”

Red Sox score three in ninth inning to top Rays, 4-1

Red Sox score three in ninth inning to top Rays, 4-1

ST. PETERSBURG - Xander Bogaerts sparked a three-run rally in the ninth inning, David Price pitched the bulk of a three-hitter and the Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-1 on Wednesday night for their fourth straight win.

Bogaerts doubled off Alex Colome (2-5) to drive in J.D. Martinez, who reached on a throwing error by shortstop Willy Adames to lead off the ninth. After a wild pitch, Eduardo Nunez drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, and Boston tacked on another on a passed ball.

Price pitched three-hit ball over six innings, allowing a run while striking out nine. Joe Kelly (3-0) got the win and Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 15th save.

Adames, playing only his second major league game, threw out Nunez at the plate after a two-out double by Jackie Bradley Jr. in the fifth, preserving a scoreless tie.

The Rays did not get a runner into scoring position until the sixth, when C.J. Cron doubled off the center field wall. That hit drove in Denard Span following a leadoff walk.

Christian Vazquez got Boston on the board in the sixth, singling off starter Chris Archer and later scoring when Hanley Ramirez bounced into a bases-loaded double play.

Archer has won only one of his last 20 starts against Boston. He gave up one run, four hits and three walks in six innings, striking out six.

The game featured eight hits and 24 strikeouts, including four in a row by Rays reliever Jose Alvarado.

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Can Red Sox replace Carson Smith's style internally?

Can Red Sox replace Carson Smith's style internally?

Entering Tuesday night, opposing hitters had swung and missed at Joe Kelly’s changeup 82 percent of the time.

Last season, he barely threw the pitch, at about 2 percent. Now, per BrooksBaseball.net, Kelly’s using the change more than 9 percent of the time.

Carson Smith’s shoulder injury creates obvious “next-man-up” scenario for the Red Sox bullpen, just as any injury to a significant player would. It's likely that no matter how excellent Kelly or Matt Barnes or Heath Hembree are going forward, the Sox will need to add a reliever midseason if they want to make a deep run into the postseason. 

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There's also the Red Sox debut of right-handed reliever Tyler Thornburg, who has been rehabbing at Pawtucket, on the horizon. 

Nonetheless, with Smith down, there are opportunities for Barnes, Kelly and Hembree to not only step up into bigger roles, but perhaps to evolve stylistically as well. Just a tad.

Smith was a sinker-slider pitcher. Kelly, Barnes and Hembree rely more on power fastballs. Outs are outs and remain the bottom line, but part of what made Smith appealing was that different look he offered.

“It’s awful what happened, really,” Barnes said recently. “We’re all praying for him and hoping that it’s not too bad that he can come back and do fine . . . It definitely hurts. He was throwing really well the last month. He was a guy who’s dominant against righties and adds a different feel than the other righties we have in the bullpen. We got a good group down there. We’re fortunate that we have some depth: guys that have pitched in a lot of different roles over the years and are really comfortable in any role.”

Indeed, over the winter, Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski pointed to Smith as something of a separator amongst his righty relievers. None of the Sox relievers should change just for the sake of it. Their effectiveness is what matters most.

Kelly, though, might be most effective if he transitions a little. His stuff might allow the most wiggle room and he's very willing to experiment, be it with timing mechanisms or otherwise. 

https://www.nbcsports.com/boston/boston-red-sox/podcast-how-make-people-miss-100-mph-interviews-joe-kelly-and-brian-bannister

One of the perplexing things about Kelly has been how hard he throws and how few swings and misses his high-90s (and sometimes triple-digit) fastballs garner. Enter the changeup, as well as his slider and curveball. Kelly’s not throwing his breaking balls more than he used to overall, but they’re both creating more swings and misses in 2018. 

There hasn’t been an uptick in ground balls, as one would expect with a sinkerballer such as Smith. Still, as Kelly’s secondary stuff seems to take on better life, his identity need not be wrapped up so much in that fastball and whether or not it gains swings and misses.

As they move on without Smith, Sox relievers are comfortable in varied roles.

"It’s based on the conversations we have with [pitching coach Dana Levangie]," Barnes said of usage. "If you look at kind of the way things have played out the last three weeks to a month, we have an idea when I'm going to pitch based on the lineup, innings, scores of games. So, in a sense, we might not be the typical, old-fashioned [build where] you have your set eighth inning, you have your set seventh inning, and that kind of role. But there is definitely a role that we kind of each understand."

From there, if one of them can distinguish themselves slightly in terms of approach — Kelly seems the best candidate — a little variation could go a long way.

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