When it comes to the Red Sox's scuffling bullpen, desperate times call for desperate measures.
Enter Nathan Eovaldi, who apparently will be the team's closer when he returns from the injured list. The team hasn't ruled out the hard-throwing right-hander returning as a starter later on in the season, but in the near term, he'll work out of the 'pen.
Before Wednesday night's matchup against the Blue Jays in Toronto, Eovaldi said he told the team he didn’t have to come back as a starter when he realized just how long it would take to work up to that point. He also took responsibility for the Red Sox bullpen being overworked this season, per Jen McCaffrey of The Athletic.
Eovaldi says he told the team he didn’t have to come back as a starter when he realized it was going to take another month to build up to starting. Says he feels it’s on him how taxed the bullpen has been because he’s been out— Jen McCaffrey (@jcmccaffrey) July 3, 2019
Would the Red Sox pitching staff have benefitted from a healthy Eovaldi this season? Absolutely. But the bullpen's ongoing struggles go well beyond the 29-year-old's elbow injury.
Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski said on Wednesday the decision to use Eovaldi as a closer was due to a sense of "urgency," but acknowledged the plan could change depending on Eovaldi's performance or potential acquisitions.
As for when exactly Eovaldi will return, that remains to be seen. While Dombrowski says it could happen immediately after the All-Star break, Eovaldi is taking a cautiously optimistic approach.
“It just depends on how fast they want to try to move it,” Eovaldi said per Christopher Smith of MassLive. “We don’t really want to jump too far ahead because we don’t want to have any setbacks or anything like that. Right now I feel really good. I don’t think it’s going to take too long.”
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