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Red Sox activate Josh Taylor

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Chris Mazza goes back down.

Boston Red Sox v Texas Rangers Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Red Sox have enough problems that one or two players missing from the roster isn’t going to make a difference, but it is worth mentioning that they have been without two of their top four relievers on their original projected roster, both of whom were also slated to be the top lefties in the bullpen. That would be Josh Taylor and Darwinzon Hernandez, both of whom tested positive for COVID-19 at the start of camp and got off to a late start. One of them, Taylor, is ready to make his return and has been added to the active roster prior to Monday’s series finale in New York. Sunday’s starter Chris Mazza was optioned to make room. Additionally, recent waiver pickup Christian Arroyo was added to the injured list as they await his COVID test.

Taylor is the headline here, and while again he alone isn’t going to make a massive difference on this team he has the potential to be a big boost for this bullpen. Because so much of his time in the majors, particularly in the late innings, last year came after the team fell out of contention, Taylor’s breakout fell largely under the radar but make no mistake: He was tremendous. The lefty tossed 47 23 innings last year with a 3.04 ERA, 62 strikeouts and 16 walks. By DRA, Baseball Prospectus’s ERA estimator, he was 19 percent better than league-average. Expect him to quickly make his way back into high-leverage situations, insofar as those are innings that actually exist on this Red Sox team.

As for Mazza, his demotion is a little bit of a surprise. While the results of Sunday’s game weren’t great — four runs in three innings — he didn’t quite look as bad as that and obviously this team is starved for starting pitching. They still need bodies to make these starts, and now Mazza will have to remain in Pawtucket for ten days unless there is an injury. At this point, after a couple of solid long relief outings, I’d expect Ryan Weber to get the next start in that spot in the rotation.

Finally, with Arroyo, it looks likely he will be added to the roster tomorrow. Chris Cotillo points out that while he has been added to the COVID-related injured list, it is because of a delay in his intake testing rather than a positive test. They’ll be looking to add him on Tuesday, though they’ll have to clear a spot on the 40-man roster to do so.