Rather than add relievers ahead of a crucial series against the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox are going in the other direction.
The Red Sox placed right-hander Heath Hembree on the 10-day disabled list Friday with right lateral elbow inflammation, recalling right-hander Josh Smith from Triple-A Pawtucket to take his place.
Hembree had allowed three runs over his last two outings and was seen shaking his right arm after his appearance Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Rays.
More troubling for the Red Sox, though, is who they have left in their bullpen after declining to add a reliever before Wednesday's MLB trade deadline.
Here's a look at their bullpen as of Friday afternoon:
- Matt Barnes (4.01 ERA)
- Brandon Workman (2.08 ERA)
- Nathan Eovaldi (6.93 ERA)
- Josh Taylor (3.86 ERA)
- Darwinzon Hernandez (2.25 ERA)
- Marcus Walden (3.64 ERA)
- Colten Brewer (4.40 ERA)
Workman has been the most consistent pitcher in this group and Barnes is coming off a strong July, but it's still not an inspiring list.
Eovaldi has allowed five runs over 3.2 innings since converting to a reliever, while middle relievers like Walden and Brewer have been hit-or-miss.
Given the lack of talent here, you probably won't be surprised to learn Boston ranks 17th in baseball with a 4.55 bullpen ERA and dead last in save percentage at 52.5 percent.
Nonetheless, this is the group the Red Sox will live and die by over the last two months as they attempt to claw their way to a second Wild Card spot.
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Chris Sale turned 31 on Monday. He also had Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow on that same day. The procedure will sideline him for at least the rest of the 2020 season and beyond.
But when exactly can we expect Sale back? Boston Red Sox chief of baseball operations, Chaim Bloom, wouldn't confirm to an exact date, but he did provide some insight into how long Sale might be sidelined.
"We don't know exactly," Bloom said, per Christopher Smith of MassLive.com. "Typically you see around that 14-15 month range."
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Okay, so maybe that's not the most specific answer, but it at least gives us a ballpark idea of when Sale could return.
A 14-15 month recovery period would have Sale return sometime between early June and early July in 2021, if his recovery goes well. Of course, there are so many variables to take into account about how Sale may be progressing but also about how the Sox may be faring. If they aren't doing well, the team could take an extremely cautious approach with Sale in hopes of having him fully healthy for the 2022 season.
But Bloom's estimate at least gives Sox fans an initial target for Sale's potential return. The target date will certainly be fluid especially considering that some pitchers take 18 months to return from the surgery.
But no matter what, Sale won't be suiting up for the Red Sox until mid-2021 at the earliest. And that's bad news for the squad considering their lack of starting pitching depth.
Chris Sale's long road to recovery from a pesky elbow injury began on Monday.
The Boston Red Sox officially announced that Sale underwent Tommy John surgery on Monday to reconstruct the UCL in his throwing arm. Noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache performed the surgery.
The Red Sox and Sale decided that he would need to have the surgery about a week and a half ago. The coronavirus crisis made it a bit uncertain as to when Sale would be able to have the procedure done, but now, it is in the books.
Sale won't pitch at all in 2020 and it's likely that he will miss time in 2021 as well. In fact, he could miss that whole season given that a typical recovery from Tommy John surgery takes about 18 months.
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Either way, the Red Sox will be without Sale long-term and as a result, their starting rotation looks very thin. Eduardo Rodgriguez will slot in as the team's ace while Nathan Eovaldi and Martin Perez are the Nos. 2 and 3 starters respectively.
The other two rotation spots are up for grabs but before the league was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was assumed that Ryan Weber had the inside track for the fourth starter position. The fifth starter role was much less settled and the team may have used an opener strategy given their lack of starting pitching depth.
Without Sale, the Red Sox will likely have to rely a lot on their offense to carry them to victory moving forward. But we won't get a chance to see how they look until the MLB returns. And at this point in time, it's unclear when that may be.