The worst part of Wednesday for the Red Sox came after the final out of their afternoon game against the Pirates when news broke that Steven Wright had been suspended for 80 games due to a positive PED test. The game itself was pretty bad, though, with the offense almost nonexistent and a couple of strong pitching performances keeping the day from being a total wash.
Tyler Thornburg struggles again
With the news that Wright will be out for the first half of the season and be ineligible for postseason play, the Red Sox really need someone from lower on the depth chart to step up and be a reliable late-inning arm. Tyler Thornburg has a season under his belt of being that guy, but it was three years ago and he’s shown few signs of it since coming to the Red Sox. With a healthy offseason behind him, there was some slight optimism that this could be the year. Unfortunately, he has yet to show signs of it. He struggled again on Wednesday, showing good velocity but bad command. In all, the righty allowed a run on a couple of singles and a pair of walks. He didn’t strike anyone out. Thornburg has now made three appearances this spring with three innings total, allowing four runs on six hits, two walks and two strikeouts. We all know spring training stats are essentially meaningless. We’ve seen enough Sam Travis springs to get that point across. Alex Cora and company have been impressed with Thornburg’s stuff this spring, too. Still, I’m having a hard time not giving into the temptation to read too much into the results. The Red Sox shouldn’t make roster decisions based on spring results, but based on what we’ve seen from him his entire Red Sox career and the track record for pitchers returning from the TOS surgery he underwent a couple years ago, I’d be keeping him on a short leash to start this season.
Colten Brewer impresses
There was a little bit of good news in this game for the Red Sox, and it came from another righty who could be given a chance to take on a bigger role in Wright’s absence. Colten Brewer was acquired in a trade way back in November, and many are excited about the righty’s potential. He showed why on Wednesday, working a perfect fourth inning with two strikeouts and a ground out. Brewer hasn’t been perfect this spring either, to be fair, but on this day we got a glimpse of why he could be a sleeper to make a big impact for Boston in 2019. Brewer isn’t going to have a huge role to start the year, and there’s probably a decent chance he starts the year in Pawtucket, but he’s certainly a name to keep in mind as the year goes on and the team starts to tinker with the bullpen.
- There really isn’t a whole lot more to say about this game. The offense, which featured mostly regulars at the start, managed just three singles on the day. Those came from Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts and Sandy León.
- Ryan Weber and Adam Lau tossed a combined 3 1⁄3 innings without allowing a run, though Weber did allow a triple and two singles. Each pitcher also walked one batter.