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But Can He Pitch?

Updated: 2017-07-21T20:00:02-04:00


Red Sox vs. Angels Lineups: Sale Day After Dark



Happy Sale Day

Happy Sale Day everyone! The Red Sox are coming off a couple of series splits at Fenway, and they will to get some positive momentum going out west. West coast road trips have always seemed to be the litmus test for any contending Red Sox team, so this next stretch of the schedule could be a big one. Or, maybe not. I don’t know.

Things are set up for them to get off to a great start, as Chris Sale is taking the mound on Friday night. Not only is it Sale Day, but it’s Sale Day with the lefty being on an extra day of rest. Thursday’s game with Doug Fister was tough to watch, but hopefully it will pay off with all of the other starters being well-rested. We’ll get our first look at the strategy tonight.

In the lineup, nothing much has changed as they go up against Ricky Nolasco. It’s essentially business as usual, and that for some reason includes Mitch Moreland’s continued use in the cleanup spot. Here are the full lineups for both sides.


Note: I have no idea what is happening with our table converter but it is not working so we are left with this very pretty screenshot of a Google Sheet. Enjoy!

The Friday Fire Farrell Index: Why hasn’t Todd Frazier started yet?


And why is David Robertson on the shelf? Big answers to silly questions herein. Earlier this week, Chicago’s Todd Frazier and David Robertson were traded to an A.L. East powerhouse, just as I predicted. Yet despite what seemed to be an obvious deal for the Red Sox, neither Frazier nor Robertson has logged an inning so far for the team. The question this raises is unavoidable: What is John Farrell thinking? Farrell will have to live with his decision-making here forever, and if the team stumbles without the Pale Hose pair, it could, theoretically, cost him his job. This column has regularly argued that he’s done a good-if-not-great job this year, and that he will — and should — ultimately be judged by the team’s win-loss record at September’s end, but leaving two such obvious additions out of the team’s lineup could obviously cause problems if the team doesn’t acquire another third baseman or reliever. In that case, it’ll be “Why did Farrell bring in so-and-so to face Aaron Judge?” or “Why is Deven Marrero pinch-hitting against Corey Kluber?” The answer will be at least partially that Farrell cannot bring himself to use Frazier or Robertson. And the reason for this, of course, you already know, because you sussed out the bait-and-switch with this column from the headline. That reason, of course: John Farrell hates the luxury tax. Personally. In his heart. With the fire of a thousand suns that will never extinguish, not after his last breath. To tell the full story, we must return to the beginning. When Farrell was a boy, he played with much older boys on youth baseball teams, but they knew his age, and one particular jerk never let him forget it. That’s right: luxury tax. On a class trip to the airport during his second week on the team (don’t ask; it was a different time), the luxury tax stuffed him in one of those oversized lockers and got his teammates to help hold it shut while he tried to get out. It was a defining moment in Farrell’s life. Then, the next week at practice, the rest of the team handed around a note (yes, they handed around notes at practice too) asking “Who hates John Farrell!” Everyone signed it except four people. The guy who ended up being his best friend signed it. You don’t need to guess who started it: LT. That jerk. Remember, these things happened to Farrell, the manager of the Red Sox, and not me, a writer, who has carefully structured his life in a way where he can put words on a page and walk away instead of creating confrontations. John Farrell, the manager. Flash-forward to today, and in order to pry Frazier and Robertson from the White Sox, Dave Dombrowski has to at least flirt with (the) Luxury Tax to get the pieces Farrell needs to succeed. Maybe he’s about to, and Farrell barges in the door and says: “Listen here, Dave — “I know you don’t love me. I know you don’t hate me. What I really know is that you don’t want to make a scene. Maybe I’m here long-term and maybe I’m not, but I go out there and quit right now and you’ve a real mess on your hands— “I’m not finished. I got out there right now and quit and you’ve got a real mess on your hands. But that’s only the start of it. What (the) Luxury Tax will do to you will be much worse. “So that’s it... Dumbo.” This explains why Farrell is totally responsible for everything that happens with his roster and how he uses it, of course, because in normal cases a good, reasonable fan wouldn’t hold what are clearly roster limitations against the manager when they inevitably arise. Like when the great bullpen eventually springs a leak, or something. “I’ll take the blame, Bryan.” What? That’s weird. Well yeah, you will, buddy, because you’re the manager, and no matter what the GM does, it ultimately comes back— “It ultimately comes back to me, big guy. So I ignore what people say about me and try to win games. Which we’ve done, quite a bit, outside of those Dog Fister starts.” Ouch. Before this gets untenable, sir,[...]

Red Sox at Angels Series Preview


A look ahead to this weekend’s series in L.A. SB Nation Blog Halos Heaven The opponent in one sentence The Angels have fallen below .500 largely thanks to an anemic offense that was missing the best player in the world for a large chunk of the season. Record 47-50 Head-to-Head Record Angels 2, Red Sox 1 Trend Down. It’s been a rough month of July for the Angels, a team that was surprisingly hanging around the wild card race despite missing Mike Trout for weeks. Since the calendar has changed, though, Los Angeles has won just five of their last 13 games and they haven’t won a series since they visited Fenway in a series that started on June 23. Pitching Matchups 7/21: Chris Sale vs. Ricky Nolasco, 10:07 PM ET Friday is Sale Day, the best day of the week. Chris Sale was originally supposed to start on Thursday, but the team sent Doug Fister to the move instead in order to get their ace (and the pitchers behind him) an extra day of rest. Fister certainly wasn’t great, but if this move makes it more likely that Sale is Sale for the rest of the year and brings more consistency from the other pitchers on the staff, the move was worth it. Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports Over the last couple of seasons, Nolasco had been a quietly solid pitcher despite a lack of dominant stuff. When he’s at his best, he can locate pitches and induce weak contact all night. That hasn’t been the case this year. Although he’s bumped his strikeout rate up to 7.6 per nine innings, he’s walking more batters than he has over any full season in his career and has allowed a whopping 26 home runs over 108 innings. Nolasco features a fastball, sinker, slider and splitter. 7/22: David Price vs. J.C. Ramirez, 9:07 PM ET After beginning the season on the disabled list and underperforming after returning, Price has been stellar over his last few outings. In his three outings since the start of July, he’s allowed runs in only one of them and has pitched to a 0.90 ERA in 20 innings of work. He also has 22 strikeouts to just four walks while allowing a .554 OPS in that time. Price has faced the Angels once this season and allowed three runs (only two of them were earned) on five strikeouts and one walk in Sox innings. Despite the solid outing, he still took the loss. Ramirez is in his first season as a major-league starter, and things have gone....okay. He’s made 18 starts on the season and has pitched to a 4.54 ERA with a 4.66 FIP and a 4.17 DRA. He’s average-at-best in every area of the game, though he does induce ground balls over 50 percent of the time. Despite the ground ball rate, he allows far too many home runs. Ramirez had a great outing at Fenway in June, allowing just one run in six innings on five strikeouts and no walks. 7/23: Rick Porcello vs. Parker Bridwell, 3:37 PM ET Porcello, like Price, has underperformed for the majority of this season but has been better of late. He hasn’t been quite as effective as Price, but he’s still been improved. Over 20 1⁄3 innings in three starts since the start of July the righty has pitched to a 2.21 ERA with 16 strikeouts and three walks. He got a win against the Angels earlier in the year, although he allowed four runs in six innings of work. Old Friends Andrew Bailey, if you’ll recall, was acquired to be a major piece of the Red Sox bullpen prior to the 2012 season as part of a trade that sent Josh Reddick to Oakland. Things did not work out with the Red Sox, and he left after two lackluster seasons here. Since then, he has never really recovered and has bounced around the majors, pitching for the Yankees, Phillies and now the Angels. He’s missed almost this entire season with shoulder inflammation, but Los Angeles is hoping to get him back within the next few weeks. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images Notable Hitters Mike Trout, as I may have mentioned, is the best player in the world. He missed about six weeks with a thumb injury earlier in the year but returned just after th[...]

Red Sox Minor Lines: Bryan Mata and Jalen Beeks with off nights


The pitching wasn’t great on Thursday. Pawtucket L 3-7 Aneury Tavarez: 2-5, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K Tzu-Wei Lin: 3-5, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K Bryce Brentz: 2-4, 1 R, 1 K, 1 E Josh Rutledge: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 K Rafael Devers: 0-3, 1 BB, 1 E Jalen Beeks: 6.1 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K Not the best start of Beeks’ career, although just from reading the box score one would have to imagine the PawSox defense had something to do with the issues. He’s still an exciting young pitcher, of course. Meanwhile, Rutledge has begun his rehab assignment and the team could be getting more infield reinforcements. Portland W 12-6 Danny Mars: 1-5, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 K Josh Tobias: 1-3, 1 BB, 1 R, 1 K Jake Cosart: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K The ball was flying out of the yard in Portland on Thursday, as can be seen by the fact that Mars went deep. He’s one of my favorite players in the system, but power has never been his calling card. It was a legitimate shot, to be fair. Salem W 7-6 (F/11) Josh Ockimey: 1-3, 1 BB, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K, 1 CS Austin Rei: 0-5, 3 K Stephen Nogosek: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K Nogosek has been quite good in his time with Salem, with 15 strikeouts in 12 1⁄3 innings. For the entire season he’s up to 60 strikeouts in 47 2⁄3 innings. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t at least get a short stint in Portland at the end of the year. Greenville L 1-5 Lorenzo Cedrola: 0-4, 1 R, 1 K Tyler Hill: 0-3, 1 BB, 1 RBI, 1 K Roldani Baldwin: 0-4, 2 K Bobby Dalbec: 0-4, 4 K Bryan Mata: 3 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 2 K While this wasn’t a terrible outing for the young Mata, though only going three innings is obviously a concern. He did throw 63 innings in those frames, so it’s possible that workload was the reason, but he’s gotten up to 80 in a few outings this year. It’s something to keep an eye on, at least. Meanwhile, yikes at that Dalbec line. Lowell W 3-1 Yoan Aybar: 0-4, 2 K Brett Netzer: 2-4, 1 K, 1 CS Enmanuel De Jesus: 5 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 8 K GCL Red Sox G1 L 0-3 Zach Sterry: 2-4, 1 K GCL Red Sox G2 W 13-2 Cole Brannen: 0-2, 2 BB, 1 R, 1 K Alan Marrero: 3-4, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI DSL Red Sox L 3-5 (F/10) Alexander Martinez: 1-5, 1 2B, 1 RBI [...]

Daily Red Sox Links: Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez, Blake Swihart



Plus notes on Kyle Martin’s debut and trade talk.

If the Red Sox are going to make a trade, and the odds are they will, they’re better off making a deal now. (Michael Silverman; Boston Herald)

Standing in their way is the fact that many of the premier prospects they used to have are gone, making for fewer assets to get a deal done. (Alex Speier; Boston Globe)

One guy who will never be traded is Dustin Pedroia, especially right now as he is sizzling at the plate. (Stephen Hewitt; Boston Herald)

With Hanley Ramirez getting some more playing time at first base, John Farrell has a bit more room to work with his lineup. (Julian Benbow; Boston Globe)

It’s imperative that Ramirez not only give help in the field but start to heat up at the dish. (Steve Buckley; Boston Herald)

Mismanagement is part of the equation when discussing how Blake Swihart’s career has gone. (Cam Ellis; Boston BP)

Kyle Martin made his MLB debut on Thursday and shared a special piece of it with his father. (Dan Shulman; WEEI)

Even with all the extra inning shenanigans going on during the last week, Farrell is still not a fan of starting extra frames with a runner on second. (Annie Maroon; MassLive)

Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 8: Fister and Holt drop the ball, figuratively and literally.



A poolside dispatch.

The game started, as it always does, with the first pitch. Doug Fister threw a strike looking to Jose Bautista, and we were away.

Soon, Bautista would ground out to the pitcher, and the Red Sox would have a leg up on the Jays. Happiness was evasive, however, when Russell Martin and Josh Donaldson hit back-to-back doubles to put an early run on the board. The promise of that first pitch, and first out, were lost forever... for about 20 minutes.

In the bottom of the second, though, an eruption! A sea change! Even allowing for Sandy Leon being thrown out at home on an fluke Brock Holt \o/ base hit to left, the team scored three runs against Jays starter Francisco Liriano. Xander Bogaerts doubled with one out to start things up, and when Leon batted him home it evened things up at 1-1. Deven Marrero followed with a single, and after Leon was nabbed on that nifty play by Martin, Betts, too, singled, to make it 3-1. Liriano was for Dominic Leone following a walk to Chris Young, and Leone got Pedey to end it.

Thus the celebrations were in order once more following a satisfactory conclusion to the game, and Fister went about shortening it with his typical competence. Of which there is little. Bautista grounded out to third, but Martin and Donaldson walked to bring up starting American League All-Star first baseman Justin Smoak. He fell behind 2-0, regrouped with the boys, and got the count full before Smoak grounded out to Holt \o/.

This brought up Kendrys Morales. He walked on four pitches. The bases were now loaded for Steve Pearce. He popped up, on the first pitch, to Holt \o/. He dropped it.

Marc called it! With that, it was a game again, and our lives improved. Especially when Brandon Workman showed up in the eighth to shut shit down. The Sox wouldn’t score, and Smoak would homer again to make it 8-6 before it was all said and done and Roberto Osuna cut through us like a hot knife through butter. By this time I was in the pool. The solution is simple: Ban pools


Red Sox vs. Blue Jays lineup: Will the Fister famine continue, or is it hot Doug time?



I regret nothing.

Doug Fister (6.75 ERA) takes the mound this afternoon for the grinding Red Sox (54-42) who look to win their third game in a row against the Blue Jays (43-51) on a getaway day today at Fenway Park (1:35 p.m., NESN). He’ll be matched by lefty Francisco Liriano (6.04 ERA), which, along with the afternoon start time, tweaks the lineup to accommodate both a platoon and Dustin Pedroia DH day. I’d write more but, like you, I am at work, futzing away my time on Over the Monster, and must run. Here are the full lineups:

Can Brandon Workman be a bullpen X-Factor?


Brandon Workman has come all the way back from Tommy John. Is he up in the majors to stay? There’s been a lot of discussion around the Red Sox bullpen lately, and I find it fascinating. Two camps have been created based on what the team should do with respect to its relief corps as we approach the trade deadline. The easy answer is that it sure would be nice to get another late-inning arm into the mix, which is something that could realistically be said about any team in the league. Still, there are some who look at the numbers the Red Sox bullpen has put up this season and see a unit that is doing just fine without reinforcements. Others see the inconsistencies of Matt Barnes and Heath Hembree as well as the healthy of Joe Kelly and see the need for someone else. Really, it’s those in-house options that are going to shape how much help, if any, this bullpen really needs. If Joe Kelly can get healthy sooner rather than later and is able to pitch on back-to-back days, he’s proven he can be a solid setup option for this team. Barnes has been underrated by the fanbase in this writer’s opinion, but it’s hard to just dismiss his career-long problems in high-leverage situations. If we’re being honest, I’m really not sure how to reconcile those issues. Then there’s Carson Smith. A couple of years ago he was one of the best relievers in all of baseball, but he obviously hasn’t been healthy since coming to Boston. A recovery down the stretch could be like a trade acquisition for the Red Sox, but whether or not they can count on that is hard to determine right now. Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports Then, there’s Brandon Workman, who like Smith came back from Tommy John surgery but is a year ahead of him on the mend. Based on what we’ve seen in his few major-league outings, it seems like Workman is all the way back, and that could be a huge boost for this Red Sox bullpen. If you’ll recall, Workman was electric out of the bullpen for the Red Sox in 2013, striking out over ten batters per nine innings out of the bullpen down the stretch for that team then tossing 8 2⁄3 scoreless innings in that postseason en route to a World Series victory. They tried him as a starter the next year, and it didn’t really work, but he still succeeded when used as a reliever. Since then, he’s missed a couple of seasons but, as mentioned above, he is back now. The stuff appears to be all the way back and he’s back to being used on something close to a regular workload. Despite his stuff looking all the way back, there hasn’t really been room for Workman on the major-league roster. Thus, he’s spent the majority of the year down in Pawtucket, where he’s been mostly phenomenal. Over 29 innings of work in 18 appearances, the righty has pitched to a 1.55 ERA with a 2.74 FIP and a 2.55 DRA. He can still struggle with control at times as he has 13 walks in that time (four per nine innings), but the 35 strikeouts in 29 innings (10.9 per nine) is phenomenal. He’s only made five appearances at the major-league level, but three of them have been scoreless and he has a 2.89 ERA. You’ll notice that he doesn’t quite have the same strikeout numbers in the majors as the rates he’s put up in the minors. Obviously, this is hard to get overly upset about given the size of the sample at the major-league level. Additionally, the good ol’ eye test shows you that he has utilized impressive stuff, including a mid-90s fastball. That has allowed him to miss plenty of bats, with a swinging strike rate that is nearly the same as what he put up in a much larger sample back in 2013. He’s also missing more bats on pitches in the zone than he ever has before, and as I’ve said before that is probably my favorite test of a pitcher’s stuff. All three of Workman’s pitches have been working, too, as his fastball, his c[...]