The Boston Red Sox have placed closer Craig Kimbrel on the 15-day disabled list with a knee injury, depleting the depth of an already battered bullpen.
More bad news on the injury front pours in for the Boston Red Sox, as the team placed closer Craig Kimbrel on the 15-day disabled list with a left knee medial meniscus tear.
Kimbrel will undergo surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital on Monday to repair cartilage in his knee – a procedure that is expected to sideline him for 3-6 weeks. This is crushing news for a Red Sox team already dealing with a litany of injuries this season.
The injury occurred while Kimbrel was shagging fly balls during batting practice prior to Friday’s game. This has apparently become a hazardous practice, as Kimbrel is the second Red Sox pitcher to suffer a knee injury chasing down balls in the outfield. Eduardo Rodriguez injured his knee in similar fashion during spring training and has struggled to return to form since his return, which ultimately forced the Red Sox to ship him back to Triple-A Pawtucket.
With Kimbrel unavailable Friday night, Koji Uehara stepped into a familiar role in the 9th inning. He managed to lock down the save, despite giving up a home run. It was the 8th time this season that Uehara has been taken deep, three shy of his career high and we’re only halfway through the season. The run inflated his ERA to 4.96, easily making this the worst season of the 41-year old’s career.
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Perhaps moving back into the closer seat will help snap Uehara out of this funk, but it seems more likely that age has deteriorated his skills to the point that he’s no longer the dominant reliever we’ve seen in years past.
Brad Ziegler, who the Red Sox acquired Friday night in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks, could share the closer role while Kimbrel is out of action. The veteran converted 18 of 20 save opportunities for the Diamondbacks this season and could take the lions share of save chances if Uehara continues to struggle.
The Red Sox also called up Noe Ramirez from Pawtucket to take Kimbrel’s spot on the roster, giving the bullpen a bit of additional depth. They’ll need it, with Junichi Tazawa still unavailable. It doesn’t appear that a DL stint will be necessary for Taz, but we’re unlikely to see him before the break.
Utility man Michael Martinez, acquired earlier this week in a trade to bolster the bench, has officially been added to the major league roster. Infielder Marco Hernandez was optioned back to Pawtucket to clear a spot for Martinez.
A Red Sox bullpen that ranks middle of the pack in the American League will now try to get by for several weeks without their best reliever. The addition of Ziegler will help mitigate the loss, but Carson Smith‘s season-ending injury, combined with the struggles of Uehara and Tazawa, have left Boston’s bullpen vulnerable.
About the only silver lining is that Kimbrel’s injury comes at an opportune time. The All-Star break next week limits the number of games he’ll miss during the first week of his recovery, while there is also still time before the trade deadline to acquire another bullpen arm if Kimbrel’s return ends up being on the longer end of the given timetable.