The Red Sox have been playing much better baseball of late, but there have still been things to complain about. Chief among them, it seems, has been Tyler Thornburg. On the one hand, the righty hasn’t been pitching in any moments that actually matter, instead being relegated to blowouts in either direction. On the other hand, he had performed poorly pretty much every time he took the mound and it was frustrating that he was taking up a roster spot while pitchers with more upside toiled in Triple-A. Earlier this week, Jake had argued it was time for the pitcher to be taken off the roster. In a way, the Red Sox have complied. He was designated for assignment, but he will be absent for at least a bit as he was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right hip impingement prior to Thursday’s game in Toronto. Travis Lakins was called up to take his spot on the roster.
Prior to today’s game, the #RedSox placed RHP Tyler Thornburg on the 10-day injured list with a right hip impingement.— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) May 23, 2019
To fill Thornburg’s spot on the 25-man roster, the club recalled RHP Travis Lakins from Triple-A Pawtucket.
The optics here are pretty clear, as it certainly seems from where we’re sitting that this is simply a phantom IL stint. My stance on these things, generally, is that phantom IL’ing a player is much harder than it generally seems as players don’t really want to get an injury-prone label. That said, Thornburg is in a position where it would make sense for him to agree to it, because he almost certainly would have been DFA’d if he had not, and there is not a clear market for him right now. That’s not to say he’s definitely not hurt — it’s hard to tell if a guy’s hip is bothering him, ya know? — but it could make sense even if he’s not. Either way, my guess is that the Red Sox still see something that can be unlocked here but know they can’t keep trying to find it on the fly in the majors. So, whether he’s hurt or not this will give him a chance to spend some time in Triple-A to try and figure things out. I’m not holding my breath, but stranger things have happened. Probably.
Taking his spot, as I said, is Lakins. This will be his second stint in the majors this year, though he certainly hopes this one lasts longer than the previous one. Earlier in the year he came up for one good major-league appearances in which he allowed one run over 2 2⁄3 innings that included getting out of a major jam against the Tigers. After breaking out in a relief role with Portland last year, he’s struggled a bit more this season in Pawtucket largely due to command issues. I was a little surprised the Red Sox didn’t use this as a chance to get Josh Taylor on the roster with the other, higher upside arms not performing as well, but Lakins does have the added benefit of being better suited to go multiple innings if needed. He already appeared in a game since being called up, tossing a scoreless inning on Thursday.