It seemed likely that the Red Sox were going to summon a fresh arm for Tuesday’s series opener in New York. The bullpen has been overworked to begin with, and they had to use both of their long men in Hector Velázquez and Marcus Walden for multiple innings on Monday. With both Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi failing to show they can go deep into games right now, they need a little more insurance than that. Monday evening, following the team’s ugly loss to Baltimore in the morning/early afternoon, we learned that there will be a new pitcher coming up. We just don’t know who that is yet. All we know is that Walden has been sent down to Pawtucket. The corresponding move will be announced on Tuesday.
Red Sox announce they’ve optioned RHP Marcus Walden to Triple-A Pawtucket. They’ll announce a corresponding roster move to fill his spot tomorrow.— Jen McCaffrey (@jcmccaffrey) April 15, 2019
As far as Walden being sent down, the righty hasn’t been the worst arm in the Red Sox bullpen but this isn’t surprising. He certainly hasn’t dominated to an extent that would demand he stay, and it’s still too early for guys like Tyler Thornburg and Heath Hembree to be cast aside. (Not that I’d argue against it if they were; it’s just not going to happen.) So, Walden is forced to ride the bus back to Pawtucket. Such is life as a long man with options.
The real question here is who is going to come up. This is an interesting question, particularly since the Red Sox currently have three open 40-man spots. They have no reason to feel constrained by who is on their 40-man roster for this move. That is particularly relevant for someone like Jenrry Mejia, who opened some eyes in camp and has gotten off to a hot start in Pawtucket. The former Mets closer has allowed one run over 6 1⁄3 innings to start his 2019 on four hits, one walk and six strikeouts. Other possibilities include Travis Lakins, who could be of interest given his background as a starter and the potential to go multiple innings, though he’s done so only once in five appearances so far this year. The most logical option is likely Bobby Poyner, who has the recent major-league experience.
It should also be mentioned that whoever gets this call may not be long for the roster anyway. Brock Holt, who is currently on the IL with a scratched cornea, is hoping to be back by the end of the week. When he returns, there is no longer a position player to be optioned and the pitching staff will go back to 12 men. It’s possible someone like Thornburg or Hembree could have another couple bad outings before Holt gets back and run out of leash, though I wouldn’t bet on it at this point.