Carson Smith is Likely Done for the Year

As many of you may recall, Carson Smith was shut down in mid-May after injuring his throwing shoulder. On May 14, Smith surrendered a run to the Oakland Athletics in the eighth inning, putting the A’s up for good, 6-5. As he returned to the dugout, Smith threw his glove in the dugout out of frustration. Boston’s promising reliever hasn’t seen the field since.

Carson Smith’s fit of rage not only left his glove on the dugout floor but the rest of his Carson Smithseason in jeopardy. Until this week, there had not been any medical decision as doctors did not want to rush to any conclusions. Now, about a month after the temper tantrum, the severity of the injury has become clear. On Wednesday, Smith underwent shoulder surgery which likely spells the end of his 2018 season.

The late-inning relief pitcher spent the majority of the previous two seasons recovering from Tommy-John surgery. To begin the 2018 campaign, Smith emerged as a solid option out of a Red Sox bullpen which has had its fair share of struggles this year. But now, the 28-year-old will have yet another season cut staggeringly short because of injury.

Carson Smith Continues to Frustrate

His tenure in Boston has been a frustrating one. The Red Sox acquired Carson Smith from the Seattle Mariners in 2015, trading southpaw Wade Miley and a prospect for Smith and starting pitcher Roenis Elias. He joined the Red Sox after dominating in his first full season, posting a 2.31 ERA and 92 strikeouts out of the Mariners’ bullpen. Smith began his tenure as a promising 26-year-old that would not hit the free-agent market until 2021. To say it has not gone as planned would be an understatement. Through his first three seasons with the Red Sox, Smith has appeared in a mere 29 contests. In those 29 games, he’s pitched in under 25 innings and just underwent his second season-ending surgery in three years.

After a shaky start to the year, the Red Sox’s corps of relievers actually has improved of late. Joe Kelly and Matt Barnes have established themselves as trustworthy late-inning arms to precede the ever-consistent Craig Kimbrel. While the struggles have subsided, Carson Smith’s inability to control his temper has put another significant blemish on his Red Sox tenure and provided yet another test for Boston’s bullpen.

Tyler Thornburg’s Return Can’t Come Soon Enough

In December of 2016, the Boston Red Sox acquired relief pitcher Tyler Thornburg from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for Travis Shaw and two additional prospects. If that name doesn’t grab your attention, you’re probably not alone. Thornburg has not thrown a single pitch in a Red Sox uniform.

Thornburg was shut down in February of 2017 with shoulder soreness. It was not until Tyler Thornburg June of that year when he underwent surgery to treat thoracic outlet syndrome in his throwing shoulder. Former manager John Farrell maintained his belief that surgery was not necessary, resulting in the delayed operation. It also resulted in Boston’s promising new setup man missing the entire 2017 season, and the start of this one.

It is no secret that the Red Sox bullpen has struggled this season. And this should come as no surprise. Relief pitching was among the most pressing needs of this team in the offseason. Dave Dombrowski decided to spend his money on Boston’s other need, signing J.D. Martinez and filling the void of a power bat left vacant by David Ortiz. While that signing has paid off, and then some, it does not change the fact that the bullpen needs help.

And just recently, the bullpen woes worsened. Setup man Carson Smith, who has pitched as well as any of Boston’s relievers, found his way onto 10-day disabled list earlier this week. After throwing his glove in frustration during a 6-5 loss to the Oakland Athletics, Smith injured his shoulder and is expected to miss an extended period of time. Dubbed a subluxation by Red Sox officials, this injury puts even more pressure on the already depleted Boston bullpen. In 2006, closer Jonathan Papelbon suffered an injury similar in nature, and ended up missing the rest of the season.

Get to Know Tyler Thornburg

That’s where Tyler Thornburg comes into play. In his last active season, Thornburg went 8-5 in 67 appearances out of the Brewers’ bullpen. He ended the year with a career-best 2.15 ERA and 90 strikeouts. Joining Craig Kimbrel and Chris Sale as the new arms in Beantown, Thornburg was expected to become a trustworthy setup man for Kimbrel.

Thornburg is making strides and Dombrowski said he is “very close to coming back” in a press conference on Tuesday. In his last outing with Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday, he allowed a home run, a walk, and 2 earned runs on only 19 pitches before exiting. These struggles delayed his next start until Friday, but he says he feels fine health-wise.

The services of this talented relief pitcher have been dearly missed by the Red Sox, and are now needed more than ever.

Fernando Abad: What to Expect Moving Forward

News came at the end of February that Fernando Abad would be competing for his home country in the World Baseball Classic. Abad will miss time with the Red Sox this spring training to pitch for the Dominican Republic. Fans around Red Sox Nation are wondering what this means for the 31 year-old left-hander, as well as the future of the team’s bullpen.

Fernando Abad is set to make $2,000,000 this Fernando Abadseason, but that money is not guaranteed. He was traded by the Minnesota Twins to the Sox in 2016 at the non-waiver trade deadline, and was immediately thrown into the fire by Sox manager John Farrell. In 18 appearances with the team, Abad was simply a-bad pitcher. In 12 and 2/3 innings, he recorded a 6.39 ERA and a WHIP of 1.66. The Red Sox kept Fernando Abad off of the ALDS roster.

Fernando Abad Moving Forward

The Dominican team has had the pleasure of using Abad during the tournament, but the Sox have decisions to make. Abad is a guy who is still trying to win a spot in the Boston bullpen. He was unable to prove his worth last year, and isn’t doing himself any favors choosing to participate in the WBC. This event is a huge deal in other countries, but for Abad, is it really worth not having a big-league job this season?

The Red Sox bullpen has vastly improved this off-season. We traded for a legitimate set-up man in Tyler Thornburg. Also, Carson Smith will be back from his Tommy-John surgery. Joe Kelly emerged as a go-to guy out of the pen in the playoffs last year. The Matt Barnes/Robbie Ross duo is a solid right/lefty combo that John Farrell can go to late in the game. Meanwhile, Craig Kimbrel is still as effective as Craig Kimbrel will ever be. Where does this leave Abad?

Fernando Abad can enjoy his time in the World Baseball Classic, as I am sure he will. There simply isn’t enough room for Abad in our bullpen as long as everyone stays healthy. After a dismal performance last year and poor decision-making now, he has most likely outlasted his stay in Boston.

Eduardo Rodriguez is Finally Back

Starting pitcher, Eduardo Rodriguez will finally make his long awaited return to the major league club tonight against his former organization, the Baltimore Orioles. Rodriguez had been injured with a knee injury and following a setback, Rodriguez ended up making five starts at Pawtucket.

Rodriguez pitched very strong in his last start at Pawtucket, throwing seven innings of oneEduardo Rodriguez run ball and striking out seven. Following this start, Rodriguez’s had a 3.54 ERA in 28 innings pitched at Pawtucket, only striking out 17 in those innings. The lack of strikeouts can be seen as a concern as Rodriguez has been seen as a guy with strong strikeout potential but has yet to flash that at the big league level. Although, with Buchholz having struggled greatly in the rotation and coming off a shaky start, the timing was perfect for Rodriguez to replace him in the starting rotation.

Last season Rodriguez was the ace of the Sox staff. To go along with his 3.85 ERA, his command at a young age was very impressive. Rodriguez does not seem to get phased by tough situations in a game. He walked just 37 batters in 121.2 innings pitched. As he approaches his second year at the major league level, expect Rodriguez to improve on these numbers.

Rodriguez will eventually become a strong strikeout pitcher and president of baseball operations for the Red Sox, Dave Dombrowski, believes Rodriguez can be an ace at the major league level. Rodriguez’s strong three pitch make-up featuring his fastball, slider and changeup give him three impressive pitches to bring at major league hitters. To improve upon his second season, new ace and veteran pitcher, David Price, can be of great help to propelling Rodriguez to that next level. One pitch that Price features and Rodriguez doesn’t is the cut fastball. If Rodriguez can learn this pitch from Price and begin to add it to his repertoire, he could become a very lethal starting pitcher.

Tonight is an exciting night for Sox fans and Rodriguez in general. With Buchholz to the bullpen and Rodriguez back, the Sox have a more reliable option on the mound even if he doesn’t improve but stays on track with last year’s numbers.

Matt Barnes Must Replace Carson Smith

With Carson Smith undergoing Tommy John surgery, the Red Sox lose a major piece to their bullpen this season. Smith, acquired in the off season, was expected to be a lock down option out of the bullpen, especially against elite right handed bats. With Smith done for the year, the Sox need somebody to step up as a replacement. Converted reliever Matt Barnes has looked strong this season and will be crucial to replacing Smith.

Barnes was once highly touted as a minor league starting pitcher. He struggled as aMatt Barnes starting pitcher at the major league level, resulting in the transition to the bullpen. Barnes seems to finally be adjusting to the new role after looking shaky and out of place last season. Barnes has pitched very well this season with a 2.82 ERA and is throwing his fastball around 70% of the time, sitting around a strong 96 mph for the most part.

Is Matt Barnes As Good As Carson Smith?

While Barnes has been pitching very well this year, he is not as good as Carson Smith, mainly due to Smith’s stronger off speed pitches. Smith also has more pitches at his disposal to keep hitters guessing. Barnes relies primarily on his curve ball as his secondary pitch. The bullpen role is best for Barnes as he is a guy who can come in for an inning and use his big time arm, throwing heat. If Barnes has his curve ball working and improves his third pitch, the change-up, he could eventually turn into an elite bullpen arm.

Losing Smith was a devastating blow to the Sox. Many fans did not get to know who Carson Smith was and should know that he was an elite arm out of the pen. Smith had 92 strikeouts in 70 innings last season with a 2.31 ERA for the Seattle Mariners. If Barnes can come near those numbers, the Sox will be very pleased. So far, Barnes looks like he is a changed pitcher and is relishing fewer innings pitched and letting loose with his heater.

Carson Smith Undergoes Tommy John Surgery

Red Sox reliever Carson Smith underwent Tommy John Surgery on Tuesday, and will not return during the 2016 season. This could be a big blow for Boston, which loses a key bullpen arm just as the season is about to really heat up, and will now have to explore other options for the late innings.

Carson Smith

Smith, a promising 26-year old hurler, was acquired from the Seattle Mariners in the Wade Miley trade last December. He struck out 92 batters in 70 inning last season, and pitched to a 2.31 ERA. The Red Sox were keen to fortify an inconsistent bullpen, and Carson Smith was deemed a major upgrade. In an ideal world, he was slated to join Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa in setting up games for Craig Kimbrel, giving Boston a formidable bullpen to compete with any other in baseball.

Those plans were jeopardized in spring training, when Smith endured tightness in his right forearm. He was diagnosed with a muscle strain, but recovered to join the Red Sox in May. However, after just three appearances, doctors determined that Carson required Tommy John Surgery, which could put him out of action for up to eighteen months.

Options to replace Carson Smith

Obviously, the Red Sox haven’t felt the full benefit of Carson Smith this season, but his absence still creates a headache for Dave Dombrowski. The President of Baseball Operations has already said that the Red Sox are in no hurry to search for solutions on the trade market, given the strong performances from guys like Heath Hembree, Tommy Layne and Robbie Ross. Indeed, the Red Sox currently rank seventh in bullpen ERA throughout Major League Baseball, so the current crop has done a very solid job.

However, Carson Smith figured to be a major contributor throughout the summer and down the stretch. He had overpowering stuff and the potential to be another premier arm shutting down games for Boston in the late innings. Now, that weapon has been removed, at least for 2016, and with all due respect, nobody in the current bullpen really stands out as a serious candidate to take on a more important setup role. The Sox are still in good shape with Tazawa and Kimbrel, but Uehara is 41-years old and his 2016 statistics show considerable decline compared to his career averages.

Therefore, as we move towards the trade deadline, expect the Red Sox to be active in the market for relief help. They’re not totally desperate for another arm, which should leave plenty of room in negotiations and hopefully enable Dombrowski to acquire a setup man at a fair price. While they never gain much attention, trades for relievers are very popular in mid-season, and there should be no shortage of options a month or two from now. Relievers are highly expendable, especially for non-contending teams, so the Red Sox may be in a strong bargaining position.

This news sucks for Carson Smith, and we wish him a speedy recovery. It would have been great to see him add length to the Red Sox bullpen this summer and potentially through the playoffs. Yet, while his absence is less than ideal in the short-term, Dombrowski shouldn’t have a problem finding a replacement, which will be required as Boston eyes a serious run at October.