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The Wait for Tyler Thornburg Just Got Longer

Tyler Thornburg hasn’t thrown a pitch this season. That will not change any time soon.

MLB: Spring Training-Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles
Tyler Thornburg once pitched in a Spring Training game for the Sox, but not a regular season one.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tyler Thornburg has suffered another setback with his recovery from his shoulder injury, per Tim Britton of the Providence Journal.

Thornburg, whose return wasn’t exactly imminent before this latest update, is looking further away by the second. What we can say is that his return will not be before the All-Star break. Further, if he does go through with surgery (which isn’t recommended yet, it’s just a hypothetical), then it won’t happen this season either.

Thankfully, the Red Sox bullpen hasn’t needed Thornburg yet, as their bullpen is presently the strength of the team. Over their last six games, the Sox bullpen has thrown 28 23 innings pitched with 31 strikeouts, and just 1 earned run.

I do not pretend to be good at math, but a 0.40 ERA for a bullpen that doesn’t even have Carson Smith or Tyler Thornburg (who you couldn’t be faulted for assuming were the 2nd and 3rd best arms in the ‘pen coming into the season) is pretty good.

What does hurt, is what the Sox gave up to acquire Thornburg: Travis Shaw, Mauricio Dubon, Josh Pennington, and Yeison Coca.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Milwaukee Brewers
Travis Shaw has been very good for the Brewers. Did the Red Sox make a mistake in moving him?
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The return for the Brewers, in the name of Travis Shaw, has been a big part of why the Brew Crew are in first in the NL Central. The other reasons are a weaker than expected start for the Cubs, and the lack of any competition beyond them.

Shaw is presently hitting .296/.352/.537, with 10 home-runs, and 42 RBIs. Not only would this make him arguably the best overall bat on the team through this part of the season, but it would also improve the weakest offensive position on the team dramatically.

Dubon, through 64 games with the Brewers AA affiliate, has hit .286/.346/.369. While his Portland numbers haven’t sustained themselves, he’s now being a more aggressive baserunner, stealing 28 bases (last season, he stole 30 in 124 games).

If the Red Sox miss the playoffs, or lose the division to the Yankees, fans will point to this move as the reason. Tyler Thornburg was, and still is an intriguing arm, but he is just a promise right now and not a tangible part of the team’s ability to win baseball games.

While Sox fans wonder if the trade will end up costing the Sox a World Series, the division crown, or a spot in the playoffs, it’s clear all we can do is wait and hope that Thornburg pitches well enough to salvage the trade.