|Eduardo Rodriguez slowly starting to regain form||07.27.16 at 6:06 pm ET|
Things are slowly starting to get better for Eduardo Rodriguez.
Suffice to say after mesmerizing at times in 2015, the Venezuelan has been disappointing periodically throughout this season, most notably with his demotion to Pawtucket on June 28 (retroactive to June 27).
While there he worked to establish more reliability on pitches other than his fastball, and it appears since being recalled July 15 that’s happening.
The lefty has allowed three or fewer earned runs in each of his three starts since the All-Star break. In that stretch he has a 3.06 ERA with six earned runs over 17 2/3 innings pitched.
“It’s been getting better, because I’ve gotten everything with the mechanics,” Rodriguez said. “Being able to control the ball in the strike zone … and looking for swing and a miss and ground balls.”
Rodriguez was tagged for nine hits and three runs in Wednesday’s 4-3 loss to the Tigers, but did managed to strike out six, the third highest tally for the 23-year-old this season. With the exception of a solo home run to James McCann in the sixth and a double to Jose Iglesias in the third, Rodriguez by and large alleviated hard contact. And despite getting himself into trouble in a few instances — such as putting two runners on base with two outs in the first — he managed to finagle his way out of them mostly unscathed.
“I thought [Rodriguez] minimized damage for the most part,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said in regards to Wednesday’s outing. “He’s in a tough spot with second and third, just one out middle of the order which, Cabrera and [Victor] Martinez the damage they created today was obvious. Still I thought he showed three defined pitches. His slider continues to improve. On a day where he didn’t give up a lot of hard contact … I thought he threw the ball well against a quality right handed-hitting lineup.”
|John Farrell hints Steven Wright may need to be scratched in games involving rain, heat||at 2:41 pm ET|
There’s no question Steven Wright runs into trouble when he has difficulty gripping the baseball because of the elements, whether it’s rain or heat and humidity.
That is what happened Tuesday night in the 90-degree weather when Wright had his worst outing of the year, allowing eight runs and not even making it out of the fifth inning in the Red Sox’ loss to the Tigers.
This goes along with other poor starts this season when he allowed five runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Astros on May 13, a game played in the rain, and also June 25 when he allowed eight runs (three earned) in 4 2/3 innings in the heat in Texas.
In discussing Wright’s latest outing on the WEEI Red Sox Radio Network pregame show with Tim Neverett on Wednesday, Farrell hinted if things cannot be corrected in those elements, Wright may need to be scratched in such games.
“The action to the knuckleball was not what we’ve seen, particularly in the first two innings,” Farrell said. “They score a couple of runs in both the first and second and we’re down 4-0 and I thought he started to settle in and have some of the similar action that he’s had.
“If we’re in a situation where there is a little bit of moisture or the temperature is 90 degrees, it almost leaves us at a point where I have to scratch him if it ends up being a situation where the results are what they are, but we have to figure out a way to maintain some kind of grip whether it’s wearing sleeves, using rosin. He’s done a very good job for us, no questions about that. But, in those elements we have to find a way to adjust and make the most of them.”
Wright isn’t a fan of the rosin bag because of the impact it has on his grip.
“The rosin creates a sticky feeling in the fingers and that is not the normal touch that Steven prefers,” Farrell said. “In the end, those elements are going to rear their head again and we have to figure out a way to improve upon them.”
|John Farrell defends pitching decisions in 9-8 loss to Tigers||07.26.16 at 11:46 pm ET|
Within the Red Sox’ 9-8 loss to the Tigers Tuesday night at Fenway Park were a few decisions made by manager John Farrell with the pitching staff worth debating.
The first was with Steven Wright in the fifth inning.
Wright clearly didn’t have his best stuff as he had allowed four runs going into the inning. After the Red Sox had given him a 5-4 lead, the knuckleballer walked the first two batters of the inning, which were followed by two straight singles. An RBI ground out made it a 6-4 game with runners on second and third with one out.
Wright was able to get the next batter to pop out, but then with left-hander Robbie Ross Jr. seemingly ready in the bullpen, Farrell stuck with Wright who allowed a two-out, two-run single to Jarrod Saltalamacchia to give the Tigers a 8-4 lead.
With two relievers unavailable, it seemed Farrell wanted to do anything in his power to get Wright through the fifth inning.
“On a night when [Clay] Buchholz is unavailable, [Matt] Barnes is unavailable, trying to get him as deep as possible to get us in those middle innings and possibility beyond,” Farrell said. “Unfortunately, can’t get through the fifth.”
Buchholz has pitched four times in the last six days, but Barnes being unavailable is puzzling considering he worked 1/3 of an inning Sunday after throwing three innings last Wednesday.
Then in the seventh inning, Ross Jr. was still in the game with the game tied at eight. It was his second full inning of work and after retiring the first two batters of the inning, things started to fall apart.
Ross Jr. hit a batter, allowed a single and then walked two, including the second with the bases loaded to allow the go-ahead and eventual game-winning run to score. Right-hander Joe Kelly was warming and entered following the walks to Saltalamacchia and No. 9 batter, lefty Tyler Collins. Kelly retired Ian Kinlser on one pitch to get out of the inning without further damage.
Farrell defended sticking with Ross Jr. against Saltalamacchia and Collins.
It’s always a busy time of the year with the trade deadline less than a week away, especially considering the Red Sox have already made four trades in the month of July.
Prior to Tuesday’s game, manager John Farrell was asked if he could sense a different mood in the clubhouse with the deadline less than a week away and he responded with saying he doesn’t sense a change in the atmosphere and added he isn’t anticipating another trade between now and Monday’s deadline.
“No, I wouldn’t think so,” he said of a possible mood change in the clubhouse. “At this point there isn’t that undertone. The fact that we have been able to acquire players prior to the deadline I think has injected a lot of confidence and I just think an overall upbeat tempo in knowing that there is commitment from Dave [Dombrowski] and ownership to add where the needs exist.
“If anything happens between now and the end of the month — not anticipating it at this point, but I think it’s pretty clear that Dave is always looking for ways to improve this team.”
With Chris Sale’s name being brought up and the Red Sox having the pieces in place to acquire him, there will always be that natural connection, but Sale himself said Monday night he doesn’t want to be traded and the Red Sox already added Drew Pomeranz.
The Red Sox could have the need for another arm in the bullpen, but Craig Kimbrel is progressing faster from his knee injury than many expected and in the field, left fielder’s Blake Swihart and Chris Young are both getting closer to returns, so the team could view those players returning as mid-season acquisitions.
|How does David Price feel about his season? ‘It’s just awful’||07.24.16 at 1:24 am ET|
And he knows it.
“It’s been terrible. This is not fun. It’s just awful” Price said the Red Sox’ 11-9 loss to the Twins Saturday night.
Since the beginning of the season, the lowest Price’s ERA has reached is 4.24, where it stood on June 19. When he departed with two outs in the fifth inning Saturday it was up to 4.51. That was thanks to an uninspiring 5 2/3-inning outing in which he gave up five runs on 11 hits.
Part of the concern since the All-Star break has been his inability to go deep into games. In both games, he went 5 2/3 with 106 pitches. With the intense and road-heavy schedule the Red Sox have ahead of them on top of their depleted bullpen, that is far from the result the team is looking for from their top starter.
“We try to space out the work as best possible,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “And with Junichi [Tazawa] coming off the DL, you have to be careful with his overall usage, but in a situation where both Tommy [Layne] and Robbie [Ross Jr.] are going four out of five days, yeah, that goes back to the depth of the … rotation and being able to work deeper into games.”
For Price, it is not so much a matter of not feeling good or coming into games ill-prepared, nor is it a health issue. What’s been evident is his ability to execute pitches.
“Honestly I feel good. I feel healthy, I feel good out there on the mound, I feel confident,” he said. “Just not making good pitches and that’s what it boils down to. You can feel bad out there and still go out there and execute pitchers and you’re going to get good results. But it doesn’t matter how good you feel if you don’t go out there and execute, and that’s when things happen.”
With the poor pair of outings to begin the season’s second half, reasonable minds could wonder if there is a confidence issue heading into the final two months. But, according to Price, doubt hasn’t crept into the equation.
“I’m still confident in myself, absolutely,” the lefty said. ” I’d go out there and pitch tomorrow if they’d let me. My confidence is not altered. I don’t listen to the outside noise. I know my teammates and the coaching staff know they have a lot of confidence in me and I haven’t really given them reason to have a lot of confidence in me this year, I’ve just got to pitch better.”
Farrell addressed part of what he perceives to be the problem in Price’s mechanics as well as his time in between games.
“Early on, David, he came off a start in New York where he’s focusing on his in between start work on trying to leverage the ball downhill, trying to get back to the bottom of the strike zone with some consistency. That was inconsistent the first few innings [Saturday],” Farrell said.
Price remains optimistic heading into his next start, which is scheduled for Thursday against the Angels in Anaheim.
“You never relax the four days in between starts whether you’re pitching good or you’re pitching bad,” he said. “You’ve got to go to work, and that’s what I’ll do, that’s what I’ve done and I’ll continue to do that.”
|Red Sox pregame notes: Blake Swihart’s ankle ‘is starting to talk back to him’||07.21.16 at 5:31 pm ET|
Prior to Thursday’s Red Sox game against the Twins, manager John Farrell discussed the status of Blake Swihart’s ankle rehab and how pivotal Matt Barnes has been for the team.
After weeks of steady progress, Swihart reached a setback in his ability to make cuts while running and exploding when starting.
“As he’s ramped up the intensity and the different cuts, his ankle is starting to talk back to him a little bit here,” Farrell said. “Much like it was when he first started to initiate some movement, then got into a pretty good stretch where he was making some good gains on it. As that intensity’s picked up, he’s going through a phase now where he’s got to quiet some things down.”
Swihart has been on the 60-day disabled list after being transferred there July 9 following severely spraining his ankle on June 4.
After saving a potentially disastrous situation Wednesday night, getting Tommy Layne out of a bases loaded, no out jam, Farrell discussed Barnes’ effectiveness in critical situations.
“He’s pitched in some of the highest leverage, non-ninth inning situations that we’ve had, and we’ll continue to do so. Given the current makeup of our bullpen, he’s probably going to be a one-plus inning type of guy in those key moments,” Farrell said. “We don’t have the three guys in New York. We don’t the three guys that are in Kansas City where regardless of the score, who’s coming up, here, run it out. So to have the flexibility to use a guy like Matt, whether it’s in the seventh because it’s you’re in the heat of their lineup, that flexibility is in the current makeup of this bullpen.”
Part of what has made Barnes successful has been his ability to distance himself from his previous habit of surrendering multiple walks. After giving up a combined 14 walks in April and May, he’s allowed five in June and July combined.
“That’s one of the key contributors,” Farrell said when asked if limiting his walks has made him successful as of late. “The other is his percentage of his curveball is being thrown for strikes. And when he’s missed he’s backed it up with a strike curveball to keep some hitters from rushing out to get his fastball. And since early May, the velocity has climbed to the upper-90’s and he’s one of the premier arms in any bullpen around the country.”
OTHER RED SOX NOTES
|Red Sox manager John Farrell: ‘I would still’ pitch Koji Uehara in similar situation despite injury outcome||07.20.16 at 5:27 pm ET|
Red Sox manager John Farrell visited with Dale & Holley with Thornton to provide an update on Koji Uehara and discuss other team news. To listen to the interview, go to the D&H audio on demand page.
Farrell said Uehara was going through an MRI on Wednesday afternoon and that the Red Sox will have a better read on his pectoral injury later in the day.
“Anytime you see a guy taken off the mound in the middle of a ballgame because of an injury, it’s never a positive thing,” Farrell said. “Hopefully it’s on the short end. The fact that he felt it on one pitch, this wasn’t a cumulative effect or something that’s been building over time.”
Farrell defended his decision to pitch Uehara in the ninth inning of Boston’s 4-o win over the Giants on Tuesday night. Uehara, 41, left the mound after throwing just seven pitches.
“We’re in the middle of the order, a four-run lead in this ballpark where things can turn on you fairly quick,” Farrell said. “So as I’ve done a number of times previously with Koji in similar situations … I pitched him in the ninth inning. There’s been situations where Koji has come in in the middle of the inning and has not gone well, and knowing your personnel, what they prefer and how they’re most effective, that was the situation last night. Despite getting hurt, I would still make the same situation tonight if Koji’s there available and we have a four-run lead in the ninth inning.”
Farrell also discussed the improvements seen from starting pitcher Rick Porcello. The 27-year-old right-hander is 12-2 with a 3.47 ERA. He has the third most wins in the American League, and he tossed 6 1/3 innings of shutout ball during Tuesday’s win.
“The biggest thing is his ability to execute his two-seamer,” Farrell said. “I know that sounds awful simplistic, but last year in the first half of the season when he found some new velocity and the strikeout totals were up, he got a lot of swing-and-miss up in the strike zone but he didn’t have the consistency then as he does now. … So that’s his signature pitch and he’s more readily to execute it right now.”
On Wednesday night, Drew Pomeranz will make his first start for the Red Sox after being acquired in a trade with the Padres. On Wednesday morning, former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling joined Dennis & Callahan with Minihane to discuss the new hurler. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. To read Schilling’s criticism of owner John Henry, check the Full Count blog.
Schilling, who twice was traded during a season, said there is a rush of emotion when joining a new team.
“Incredibly exciting. A lot of adrenaline,” Schilling said, before cautioning: “Don’t judge [Pomeranz] by anything tonight. I was always exhilarated doing it because you move up in the standings for the most part, you don’t know that he can move much farther in the standings than he just moved. I like the deal. I kind of watched him throw a little bit after everything, the only number that concerns me is I think he has 257 innings outside of Coors Field, he’s walked 98 guys, which is not a good number. I would like to see that sink a little bit. He’s got some mechanical issues, slight ones. But big body lefty. He’s going to be fired up. I love the trade.”
The Red Sox had to give up one of their most highly rated prospects, Single-A pitcher Anderson Espinoza, but Schilling said he’s OK with it.
“Listen, if you win a World Series you don’t care, and that’s what they’re trying to do,” Schilling said. “You hate to see prospects go places, but they’re prospects. And anytime you can make that big league roster a little better to win a World Series without moving any of the 25 guys on it, I think it’s a good thing.”
Despite the Pomeranz trade, Schilling said the Sox will need to make another move to sure up their chances of winning the World Series.
“I think it’s a great trade if it’s not the last one. I still think they’ve got to make another move,” Schilling said. “Before last night I was thinking another starter, but the bullpen thing is starting to be pretty serious. But if you have to go get relievers at the deadline you’re in a good place, because everybody’s got them and everybody trades them. … The only reason that I would hesitate to say, ‘Oh my God, they can’t do this,’ is if you’ve watched over the last couple of years — Ned Yost somehow fumbled his way to a ring, which still boggles my mind — but with bullpens. You remember the Rangers and the Cardinals, [Tony] La Russa bringing in guys. It was almost like teams couldn’t wait until they get to the fifth or sixth innings to go the bullpens. But I don’t think that that’s this bullpen.”
Schilling also came out in defense of John Farrell, who has been criticized after Koji Uehara was injured while pitching in a non-save situation Tuesday night (“I wouldn’t expect to see [Uehara] back for quite a long time,” Schilling said).
“There’s too many intangibles, too many variables that I don’t know,” Schilling said of why Uehara was in the game. “Maybe he needed an inning. I don’t know the reasoning or the logic. I think it’s dangerous to play that game, because again, you don’t know what was going on, what John was thinking. Like I said, maybe Koji wanted an inning; maybe they were working on something, I don’t know. But that’s a bad injury.”
|John Farrell will not get credit for managerial moves that helped beat Yankees on Friday||07.16.16 at 12:50 am ET|
NEW YORK — We crush John Farrell when he gets something wrong, and conveniently ignore the decisions he gets right. Take Friday’s 5-3 victory over the Yankees.
With Steven Wright showing signs of fatigue after a three-run sixth, Farrell summoned Brad Ziegler for the seventh. Ziegler needed only seven pitches to escape the frame, leading to an obvious question — why not just send him back out for the eighth?
Farrell had no such plans, however. He instead called upon Robbie Ross and opened himself to a second-guess when switch-hitter Chase Headley led off with a single. There was nothing to fear, as it turned out, because Ross set down Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, and then handed the ball to closer Koji Uehara for a 1-2-3 ninth.
“Given the performance of guys over a long period of time, where they’re best suited, it felt like that was the best combination we had available,” Farrell said.
So why did the moves make sense? A couple of reasons.
For one, the 36-year-old Ziegler spent the first half closing in one-inning stints for the Diamondbacks. He had pitched multiple innings just four times in 37 previous appearances, and those outings take a toll.
“It doesn’t affect me a whole lot in that instance, I can do it, but tomorrow I would feel more sore,” Ziegler said. “I haven’t done it a lot while closing. I’ve done it a couple of times, but I know that’s probably going to come up more here with the role that I’m in, so I’ll do what I can to prepare myself for it.”
Ziegler has also performed better against right-handed batters (.644 OPS) than lefties (.777 OPS) not just this year, but over the course of his career (.556 vs. .763). So giving him right-handers Alex Rodriguez and Starlin Castro made sense. The numbers even supported the matchup with lefty Didi Gregorius, who exhibits reverse splits — he’s hitting nearly 90 points higher (.360) vs. lefties this season.
In the eighth, the numbers were even more pronounced. Ross has dominated lefties (.162 average, .462 OPS, 1 extra-base hit). The eighth featured two lefties (Gardner, Ellsbury) and what turned out to be two switch hitters (Headley, Beltran).
Headley is a better hitter from the left side, so turning him around to bat righty (.646 OPS) favored Ross. Beltran represented the one trouble spot, since he has hammered lefties (.330-1.017), but Farrell trusted Ross, who delivered. The alternative was to call a righty like Matt Barnes, but Beltran is slugging over .500 against them, too.
In any event, Farrell played the matchups perfectly on Friday. Feels like something worth noting, given the scrutiny his moves often face.
|Red Sox reliever Brad Ziegler calls pitching at Fenway Park ‘everything you dream of’ after 1st appearance||07.10.16 at 5:08 pm ET|
Less than 48 hours ago, relief pitcher Brad Ziegler was in Arizona, prepared to be traded, but not sure when or if it would happen.
Come Sunday afternoon, he was pitching the ninth inning of a 4-0 division matchup in front of a sellout crowd at Fenway Park as a member of the Red Sox.
“It was awesome, a lot of adrenaline,” said Ziegler. “The fans, I’m grateful for the reception they gave me when they announced me. It was a lot of fun, it was kind of everything you dream of when you think about putting on a Red Sox uniform and playing at Fenway. And to be able to close out a game and end the first half on a good note was fun.”
The 36-year-old righty followed up starter David Price’s tremendous outing by pitching the ninth inning, not allowing a batter to reach base while striking out two.
“I felt good,” he said. “It’s fun to sit and watch David pitch, he was fantastic today. I felt pretty good, just wanted to go out and try to go out and throw strikes. You’ve got a lead, be aggressive and just made some decent pitches and use our defense.”
Manager John Farrell was impressed with the reliever’s first outing, hoping that the small sample size shown Sunday is a sign of what is left to come.
“Yeah, we’ll take two strikeouts out of every three every time he walks to the mound. We felt like his style, that submarine type arm-slot, that’s a real good fit to the remainder of our bullpen,” Farrell said. “With the number of quality hitters in our division, he gives us a guy who can potentially matchup favorably. A veteran guy that’s pitched late in the game, pitched in important roles. He adds a lot of I think proven experience and performance to that back end.”
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