The Red Sox are on the search for more depth in their bullpen, as they are leaning far too heavily on the top guys in their relief corps. All in all, they have put up solid numbers to this point but it’s not easy to see that falling apart. In fact, cracks are already starting to show. Prior to Tuesday’s game against the White Sox, they’ve added another arm to the unit that they hope will help for the second half of the season. That arm is Steven Wright, who was reinstated following his 80-game suspension for a failed PED test. To make room on the 40-man roster, Nathan Eovaldi was moved to the 60-day injured list. Meanwhile, Josh Smith was optioned back to Pawtucket to make room on the active roster.
We’ll start with Wright, whose return brings about mixed feelings. Or, more accurately, pretty clear feelings on my part mixed with the possibility that he will be a help on the field. Beginning with that last part, Wright has been solid more often than not over his career. We all know how unpredictable the knuckleball can be, and it’s fair to be uneasy about him in a high-leverage role strictly for that reason. However, the competition for those innings is not exactly crowded and the Red Sox have shown how much they like Wright’s skillset over the years. I suspect he’ll start as a multi-inning arm with a chance to move quickly up the depth chart if he pitches well.
With all of that being said, it’s hard to feel great about him coming back. The suspension is one thing, as he was forced to miss the first 80 games of the year after failing a PED test over the winter. He also didn’t tell the team about the failed test until late in the offseason, which likely affected how they approached the winter. That last part was well within his rights, though, and I don’t blame him for that. However, worse than this PED suspension was his suspension under the league’s domestic abuse policy last year. Both Wright and his wife denied any physical altercation after the news broke two winters ago, and we obviously don’t really know what happened. At a minimum, though, we know something happened where his wife was scared enough to call 911, and Wright tried to prevent that call. That alone is enough to make me extremely uncomfortable at best with his presence on the roster. So, he can help the team win, but it’s not exactly going to be a blast rooting for him if/when he does. It’s also worth noting Wright will not be able to pitch in the postseason if the Red Sox make it that far after failing the PED test.
As for the other moves, there’s no major surprise here. Eovaldi’s move to the 60-day injured list is purely procedural and buys the team more time before they have to designate anyone for assignment to make room on the 40-man. This doesn’t affect the righty’s timetable to return for action. As for Smith, he has been serviceable as a mop-up guy, but is certainly not integral to the bullpen at this point. The only other options here were Colten Brewer. Josh Taylor and Mike Shawaryn. The first two are pitching too well to be realistic options to be sent down and Shawaryn, while struggling a bit of late, is still a better option in a similar role to Smith’s.