Happy Sunday everyone. There’s been a lot going on with this team over the last few days, and it’s been hard to keep up with everything. So, for this Sunday as we get ready for a big day of Boston sports let’s just wrap up some of the news and take a look at some implications of everything that’s happened in both the short- and long-term.
- We’ve got to start with the Nathan Eovaldi injury, which was a surprising blow to the rotation. The righty had been looking better and was outstanding his last time out, so to suddenly lose him is a big blow. Even since the news broke on Saturday, it’s come out that the righty is leaning towards a minor surgery to clean up the loose body in his elbow. Now, this wouldn’t be anything that would end his season or anything like this, but any time surgery is involved — particularly for a pitcher and his throwing elbow — it’s hard to feel good. He’s going to be seeing a doctor on Monday before making any final decisions. It should be mentioned that Eovaldi underwent a similar procedure last year and missed the first two months of the season, though he was coming back from two missed seasons due to Tommy John so the Rays were understandably being extra cautious with the righty.
- As for his replacement in the rotation, Hector Velázquez is the obvious choice with Brian Johnson on the injured list himself, and he will indeed get the first call. The third-year righty has been solid early on this year, pitching to a 2.84 ERA over six appearances, two of which have been starts. The concern here is both the lack of upside as well as the length he can provide. Velázquez has yet to go more than three innings in either of his starts. He’s earned a chance to hold down this role, but if he does struggle the Red Sox should not hesitate to change course and call up Mike Shawaryn to get a chance here. The former University of Maryland ace doesn’t have a ton of upside in his own right, but he has more than Velázquez. Through three starts in Pawtucket this year Shawaryn has a 3.12 ERA with 20 strikeouts to three walks over 17 1⁄3 innings in baseball. The Red Sox have three open spots on their 40-man roster, and the reason to maintain that is to keep the ability to add players like Shawaryn when the need arises.
- In non-Eovaldi related news, Michael Chavis was of course called up for this weekend series in Tampa Bay and made his debut on Saturday. We still haven’t seen him in the field, but while that’s the focus for the top prospect right now it’s the bat that carries the value. We saw just why that is in his first major-league plate appearance when he squared up a 99 mph sinker from Jose Alvarado for a huge double. It’s always dangerous to expect a rookie to provide a spark, particularly for a losing team, and that shouldn’t be the baseline expectation for Chavis. Even with some big strides made the last few years there is still some swing and miss than can be exposed by big-league pitching and there’s a real chance he scuffles a bit with more playing time. That being said, it’s not out of the question that he comes out swinging and shows why many are so high on him.
- On the other side of the coin, the defense is the big concern and can’t exactly be ignored. The Red Sox indicated on Friday that we shouldn’t expect to see much if any playing time at second base from Chavis. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a bit, but I think while he’s here his biggest roles are going to be as a pinch hitter like he was on Saturday or to spell Rafael Devers at third base against tough lefties. Alex Cora indicated that Chavis is likely to start against the right-handed Glasnow on Sunday, and it will be very interesting to see where that start comes. It’s worth mentioning Mitch Moreland left Saturday’s game with back spasms, so Chavis could get the start at first this time around.
- When Chavis was first called up, the Red Sox made it clear that this was going to be a temporary stay. That made sense with Brock Holt on his way back from a scratched cornea, but not the utility player may be out longer than we originally expected. Holt played in one rehab game before things stalled out, and he was returned from his rehab but not activated. In other words, he’s going to be sitting out for at least a few days (five, to be exact) before starting that rehab back up. According to Pete Abraham, the new contacts they tried weren’t working. With Holt out for a bit longer, the Red Sox will need Chavis at least until Eduardo Núñez is able to return. The infield situation is not great right now.
- In a bit of good news regarding an infielder, Marco Hernandez started his rehab assignment on Saturday. We talked about this a bit in the Minor Lines, but the infielder has had a rough road the last few years with a pair of shoulder surgeries. There’s no telling how, or if, he’ll come back from this, but before the injuries he looked like a very promising potential bench piece who could play either middle infield spot, run a bit and hit for contact. The future isn’t quite as bright now, but he’ll get a chance to prove he can still be a major leaguer at some point as the summer goes on.