Ah, the life of a minor league player.
The Boston Red Sox, according to Gordon Edes of ESPN, have recalled relief pitcher Matt Barnes and sent infielder Travis Shaw back to Pawtucket. “With Hanley Ramirez still day to day because of his bruised left wrist, that leaves manager John Farrell with just two bench players: infielder Deven Marrero and catcher Blake Swihart. But with two Sox starters, Joe Kelly [recently sent down] and Eduardo Rodriguez, getting knocked out early in the past week, Farrell has had to use his pen extensively and preferred to have the extra arm in Barnes.”
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The move could prove superfluous, however. Why bring up a relief pitcher for the sake of needing an arm when a returning pitcher might be banished to the bullpen very soon?
Veteran starting pitcher Justin Masterson makes his comeback today against the Tampa Bay Rays and their ace Chris Archer. “Masterson went six innings in each of his last two starts for Pawtucket while on rehab assignment, but hasn’t pitched since June 16 at Charlotte, when he gave up two runs on four hits.”
Jun 13, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox pitcher Matt Barnes (68) at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Meanwhile, Archer has dominated the American League bats, posting a 5-0 record and a 1.49 ERA in his last seven games. The 26-year-old starter has struck out 61 opposing bats in that span with a devastating slider. In his last game, on June 23rd, Archer threw eight innings against the high-octane Toronto Blue Jays lineup, holding them to a single run on three hits.
What a way to bring back Masterson into the fold: forced to duel against one of the best pitchers in baseball.
And it’s not like the 30-year-old has a huge arsenal to be considered a wily veteran. Masterson throws four pitches, according to FanGraphs.com, a four-seam fastball, a sinker, a slider, and a changeup. None of which would be mistaken for ‘devastating’. Before ending up on the disabled list, Masterson’s fastball tapped out at just under 88 mph, which did not allow for his changeup to fool anyone and kept him from even throwing it at all, this season.
Nobody should necessarily expect the Red Sox to beat the Rays, today; however, Red Sox Nation and the club’s brass should pay close attention to how Masterson pitches. If he can’t last longer than four or five innings, yet has good stuff to start, a move to the bullpen may be the answer. It’s not like Barnes has been much of a solution, this season. The righty has pitched only 18.2 innings for the Red Sox that produced a 4.82 ERA and a 2-2 record. Not exactly stellar stuff.
Shaw played some really good defense in his very short time with the big club, but having no hits in nine at-bats must not have inspired Farrell with confidence. Shaw getting a chance at third base was simply to teach Pablo Sandoval a lesson in Instagram-appropriateness. Barnes and Masterson are a different story. Depending on how they throw after their recent stints in the minors, their careers could take very different paths than Farrell intends for them.
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