With Jenks on DL, Sox mull bullpen options

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With Jenks on DL, Sox mull bullpen options

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- On the face of it, the news that Bobby Jenks was placed on the disabled list (for the third time this season) Saturday seemed to increase the odds that the Red Sox will look to add a reliever by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

Except for this: the Sox were already looking at the reliever market with an eye toward a bullpen upgrade.

And this: the Sox don't believe that Jenks will necessarily be sidelined for long after a second bout with back spasms.

And finally, this: there are some Red Sox talent evaluators who believe they have better pitching options within the organization than anything they might be able to get in a trade.

It would have been nice for Jenks to remain healthy and prove to the Red Sox that he can contribute over the final third of the season. To date, his inability to stay off the DL and failure to pitch consistently when he has been healthy have marked him as an expensive (6 million) disappointment.

When the Sox signed Jenks to a two-year, 12 million deal last winter, the idea was that he would give them another late-inning power arm to share the set-up load with Daniel Bard, as well an experienced closing options for games in which Jonathan Papelbon was unavailable.

Neither role has been realized because of nagging injuries and poor performance.

The trade market for relievers, of course, is a crowded one, with virtually every contender intent on improving their pen. The few proven relievers available will command inflated prices in what is a seller's market.

The Red Sox, of course, gave up three top prospects to land Adrian Gonzalez last December, a deal they would do again in a heart-beat.

But having traded their best pitching prospect (Casey Kelly), their best position player prospect (Anthony Rizzo) and a former first-round pick (Reymond Fuentes), the team's inventory has been somewhat picked over.

The Sox still have enough top prospects to make a deal, but must ask themselves: is it worth surrendering yet another top young player for two months of a reliever to pitch the seventh inning?

The answer, likely, is no, particularly since the Sox have some internal options. Felix Doubront, who has started most of the year, could help provide a hard-throwing lefty, just as he did in August last year before a neck injury cut short his season in the first week of September.

Matt Albers, as much of a pleasant surprise as Jenks has been a disappointment, has evolved into a late-inning option by virtue of the job he's done to date.

If starter Clay Buchholz doesn't return to the rotation in the next few weeks, that could alter the depth and create additional urgency.

If the reliever market is spotty, the starter market is almost non-existent. Andrew Miller, who has pitched well in four of his first five outings, could go to the bullpen and contribute when Buchholz returns healthy. If Buchholz remains sidelined, Miller remains anchored in the rotation, eliminating one fewer relief option and further limiting what the Red Sox can do.

If Jenks comes back and helps, it must be considered a bonus. If he doesn't, the Red Sox have amassed the best record in the league without him.

It's hard to see, then, that Jenks' continued absence is going make the Red Sox any more aggresssive than they planned to be at the deadline.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Sunday's Red Sox-Rangers lineups: Boston needs the good Buchholz to show up

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Sunday's Red Sox-Rangers lineups: Boston needs the good Buchholz to show up

Clay Buchholz hopes ot lead off the afternoon game better than his last start, where he game up a home run and double to leadoff the game against Chicago.

The righty has a career 4.10 ERA against Texas in 41.2 innings pitched against Texas with a 1-5 record.

Unfortunately for Boston, Buchholz is even worse at Globe Life Park. The righty is 0-3 with a 5.82 ERA in 21.2 at the Rangers home field.

The lineups:

RED SOX
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Bryce Brentz DH
Travis Shaw 3B
Sandy Leon C
Ryan LaMarre LF
---
Clay Buchholz RHP

RANGERS
Shin-Soo Choo RF
Ian Desmond CF
Nomar Mazara LF
Adrian Beltre 3B
Prince Fielder DH
Roughned Odor 2B
Elvis Andrus SS
Mitch Moreland 1B
Bryan Holaday C
---
Martin Perez LHP

Quotes, notes and stars: Wright "today was tough"

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Quotes, notes and stars: Wright "today was tough"

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 10-3 loss to the Rangers:

 

QUOTES

* “On a night when he didn’t have the consistency to the knuckleball that we’ve seen from many of his starts, he went to his fastball a little bit more. [Against] a good fastball hitting team . . . He’s typically made good adjustments staying over the rubber to get his release point out front -- that wasn’t the case [tonight].” John Farrell said about Steven Wright struggling with his knuckleball in his 4.2 inning outing.

* “The ball was spinning a lot out of my hand. It was a little bit hard to grip the ball because the humidity. But it was the opposite -- it was real sticky. That’s the first time I’ve had that ever. But I still felt like I should have figured that out. It was one of those things where I think I started trying to hard . . . I was trying to the throw the kitchen sink at them but it wasn’t working.” Steven Wright said about struggling to find his knuckleball in the 10-3 loss.

* “It’s hard for me because you want to go out there and try and go as deep as you can to try to help the bullpen, but, you know, today was tough, a tough day for me.” Wright said on his disappointment with only going 4.2 innings.

 

 

NOTES

 

* Hanley Ramirez laced his fourth homerun in his last 11 games. In his nine career games at Texas, Ramirez has six homeruns.

* David Ortiz went hitless for the first time since June 12th. Boston’s designated hitter also hasn’t hit a home run since June 17th -- his third longest homerless spell of 2016.

* Xander Bogaerts scored his 57th run of the season, putting him one run behind Ian Kinsler -- the fourth highest total in the majors.

 

 

STARS

 

1) Adrian Beltre

The ex-Red Sox third baseman finished 2-for-4 with an RBI, a walk -- scoring the team high three runs.

 

2) Ian Desmond

Desmond laced his 13th homer of the season in his second at-bat of the game, sparking Texas’ offense with its first run of the game.

 

3) Elvis Andrus

Andrus ended Steven Wright’s day quickly with a three-run triple in the fifth inning, finishing 1-for-2 with two walks and a run.

First impressions from Red Sox' 10-3 loss to Texas

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First impressions from Red Sox' 10-3 loss to Texas

First impressions of the Red Sox 10-3 loss to Texas:

 

Steven Wright can’t be stellar every night.

Although it’s seemed like it lately, it’s just not possible -- especially with a knuckleball.

He wasn’t even that bad Saturday night. He just didn’t get any help from his defense in the fifth frame.

But there’s no denying he didn’t have his best stuff. But whatever the reason, he couldn’t find consistent command or movement from his knuckler and he gave up some hard hits as a result.

Did he receive a fate worse than he pitched? Yes. But what Boston saw from Wright in his Saturday start is there will be times his go-to pitch is off -- and there’s really no way to work around that.

 

Hanley Ramirez’s “timing issue” seems to be coming around.

Although he hasn’t necessarily caught fire, Ramirez hit another home run -- once again to right field.

He’s shown more patience at the plate, and not trying to pull every ball out of the yard.

Ramirez doesn’t have everything completely figured out, but his homeruns have been plenty valuable at this point.

 

Ian Desmond is no joke.

The newly converted centerfielder is 5-for-10 against Boston pitching this series with a run and two RBI.

The ex-Nationals shortstop has good pop and good speed still. He seems to be a lot more comfortable in his new home after hitting .233 for Washington last year with 19 homeruns -- hitting his 13th Saturday night.

 

For all the criticisms Boston’s bullpen has received, the Rangers’ is definitely worse.

Although there wasn’t the same miraculous comeback witnessed Friday night -- and Boston’s pen wasn’t particularly stellar in the loss -- the Ranger relievers did not look good in the second game of the series.

They put themselves into deep counts right away -- and was lucky Boston’s offense was off.

Boston’s bullpen has its faults -- no question -- but it’s not nearly as bad as the one in Texas.

 

The Red Sox unfortunately have to rely on Clay Buchholz Sunday.

The bullpen is beaten down once again. The righty is still fighting for his job, so this would be the best time for him to pitch competitively into the sixth inning -- and maybe even longer.