Red Sox: Tyler Thornburg turning heads for Triple-A Pawtucket

MILWAUKEE, WI - AUGUST 31: Tyler Thornburg
MILWAUKEE, WI - AUGUST 31: Tyler Thornburg /

The Red Sox are gaining another arm in the bullpen soon.

The Red Sox bullpen (No. 8 in MLB with a 3.43 ERA) are adding a secret weapon to their arsenal. After Reliever Tyler Thornburg missed all of 2017 with thoracic outlet syndrome, the righty is looking like his old self again.

In his third rehab outing for Triple-A Pawtucket, Thornburg threw a scoreless inning of relief last night. According to Christopher Smith of Mass Live, Alex Cora said he hit 97 mph on the radar gun.

During his rehab outing trio, Thornburg hasn’t allowed an earned run in 2 2/3 innings. The righty has given up two hits, walked two and struck out five. But it hasn’t only been his fastball that has impressed. His curveball has been outstanding.

"“He didn’t have that breaking ball in Fort Myers (during extended spring training games),” Cora said. “And it seems with the competition obviously being better, he has to pitch. And he needs to use all his pitches. His secondary pitches have been phenomenal in two of three outings.”"

The bite at the end of the curveball is what stands out most. The ball tails down with velocity at the end, causing a batter to swing over the disappearing pitch.

Despite his impressive stuff, Cora is looking for different tests to throw at Thornburg. After all, 2 2/3 innings in Triple-A are far from pitching against the Yankees or Astros.

"“There’s a few hurdles that he has to go by,” Cora said. “Back-to-back games. Come in situations with runners on. But we’re very happy where he’s at.”"

Cora is in no hurry to rush Thornburg back despite his progress.

"“I don’t want to be unfair with him,” Cora said. “I think we’ve been very patient with him and he’s been very patient. But the way he’s throwing the ball, I get excited because I know how good he was with the Brewers. He’s another guy that can help us out in the bullpen and we do have a great bullpen. We do feel that way. We mix and match.”"

This strategy is a no-brainer. The Red Sox still have Matt Barnes and Carson Smith for the seventh inning — even if they are shaky — and Joe Kelly has settled in as a setup man role. Star closer Craig Kimbrel continues to produce at a high level for Boston. There’s no rush to add Thornburg right now.

Next: Can the Red Sox save center fielder Jackie Bradley’s career?

The season is still young, but the Red Sox bullpen is starting to make strides. Barring occasional hiccups from late-inning relievers, there is plenty of depth in the Sox bullpen right now. Having too many relievers is never a problem, but it’ll be interesting to see who is the odd man out once Thornburg is added to the Major League roster.