The Red Sox are turning to Brian Johnson for Saturday’s start as they put their five-game win streak on the line against the Mariners. It will be Johnson’s second major-league start of the season, with his first coming on April 18 in Toronto. To make room for Johnson on the roster, the Red Sox have optioned Ben Taylor back to Pawtucket.
Ben Taylor optioned for Brian Johnson— Jason Mastrodonato (@JMastrodonato) May 27, 2017
This was actually mildly surprising to me at first, or at least as surprising as a bottom-of-the-roster move can be. I figured that Brandon Workman would be the bullpen arm to go, particularly considering that he has yet to appear in a game since being called up on May 21.
Apparently, this is just Taylor’s role this year. It’s gotta suck for him, but this is the life of a fringe reliever with options. He’ll be back up in Boston at some point this summer, and realistically he’ll be making at least a few more bus trips between Pawtucket and Boston. It’s worth noting, too, that Taylor also hasn’t pitched since Workman was called up and had been struggling lately. He’s allowed at least one run in four of his six outings this month, including a four-run, zero-out appearance his last time out in Oakland.
Johnson, meanwhile, is up for just one spot start. With David Price returning to the rotation on Monday, the team only needs one appearance from their minor-league depth. It seemed possible that they could go with a bullpen game, but that would only be the preferable option if they had middle relievers they really didn’t want to lose from their roster for at least ten days. Taylor, or Workman for that matter, doesn’t fit that description.