With Nathan Eovaldi going to the bullpen upon his eventual return to action, the Boston Red Sox will need to figure out how to handle the end of their rotation.
Of course, the back end of the rotation has been something of a black hole for the Red Sox, especially with Eovaldi out since late April and Hector Velazquez, Steven Wright and Brian Johnson all missing significant time, as well. It seemed likely the rotation would get a boost upon Eovaldi’s return, but it instead will be the relievers, since Eovaldi will become a high-leverage arm.
So, how will Sox manager Alex Cora proceed once Eovaldi comes back? Him and president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski shed a little light on the plan before Tuesday’s 10-6 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
“We’re leaning towards Hector doing that for us on Thursday,” Dombrowski said, via MassLive. “He has done that for us in the past. We feel comfortable. I don’t know if we’ll go with an opener, we’ll keep an open eye to see who else may be out there. We’ll see what direction we’ll go.”
The fifth/spot-starter role has been one Velazquez mostly has thrived in. But Wright has spent significant time as a starter over his career, though injuries and suspensions have reduced his role to mainly relief lately. That said, the knuckleballer hasn’t been ruled out for the fifth spot.
“We have to talk about it,” Cora said. “As you know, physically it’s one of those that can he deal with the workload? That’s the important thing. Can he do it for five innings or is he better off going two innings, an off day and two innings after that? We’ve been talking for two days now, looking for answers and trying to make adjustments.
“Is he ruled out of the fifth spot? Not really. There’s other stuff that has to come into play. There’s a lot of information we have and we have to use to make that kind of decision.”
Cora indicated Eovaldi might not be in the bullpen for the remainder of the season. That makes what the Red Sox, who are 10 games out of first place in the American League East and 1.5 games out of the second wild-card spot, do at the trade deadline all the more compelling.