Red Sox move Wright to rotation, Ross to bullpen
The Red Sox have made the anticipated transfer of Justin Masterson from the 25-man roster to the 15-day disabled list, citing shoulder tendonitis as the reason for his decreased velocity in the early going. In a corresponding move, the Red Sox recalled Robbie Ross Jr. from Triple-A Pawtucket to serve out of the bullpen while giving knuckleballer Steven Wright the nod to start Sunday against the Mariners.
None of this comes as a particularly surprising move, but the move to start Wright (possibly for an extended period of time) is by far the biggest story here. Wright has only received a pair of isolated starts in his major league career and this move to the rotation represents an opportunity for Wright to string together a few consecutive starts.
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The Red Sox have not announced whether they intend to let Wright remain in the rotation but with Masterson on the shelf (and having looked terrible when he has pitched) and prospects Eduardo Rodriguez and Brian Johnson undergoing some recent troubles in Triple-A (though Johnson did toss a gem last night), it appears to be the obvious choice. Unless Masterson’s velocity has marvelously returned in a rehab stint, then there’s no reason to place him back in the rotation. Similarly, it makes sense to let Wright eat some innings from the rotation as Rodriguez, Johnson, and Henry Owens continue their development in Pawtucket.
On the bullpen front, the Red Sox will vacate their possession of a quality long reliever with Wright heading to the starting five. Robbie Ross, despite Boston’s lack of a quality left-handed reliever and his former success in exactly that role, has been unable to find a home with the Red Sox this season. In 13 appearances and 11.2 innings, he has posted a 6.17 ERA and though his 5.19 ERA suggests he hasn’t been quite that bad, that FIP isn’t anything special in its own right.
It might be too early to tell, but it’s not unreasonable to suggest that this represents the Red Sox giving up on Masterson. The $9.5M man has struggled to rebound from a similarly-terrible 2014 season, posting a 6.37 ERA through his first seven starts. At this point, it’s safe to assume that Wright’s worst-case scenario will be Masterson’s reality and, with the Red Sox on the brink of contending this season, that makes this move a necessity.