Red Sox place knuckleball pitcher Steven Wright on disabled list

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 31: Steven Wright
BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 31: Steven Wright /

The Boston Red Sox have placed knuckleball pitcher Steven Wright on the 10-day disabled list. Who takes his spot in the rotation?

The Boston Red Sox are once again left scrambling for a pitcher to fill in for an injured starter.

Knuckleball pitcher Steven Wright has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with left knee inflammation. Right-handed pitcher Justin Haley has been recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket to take his spot on the 25-man roster.

This will be Wright’s second stint on the DL this season. He was sidelined to begin the season while recovering from offseason knee surgery. While he initially made his way back out of the Red Sox bullpen, Wright joined the rotation in place of the injured Drew Pomeranz earlier this month.

Wright was outstanding in his first three turns through the rotation, allowing only one earned run over 20 2/3 innings. We knew something must have been off when the Seattle Mariners shelled him for 10 runs in his last start. While the team hasn’t used soreness in Wright’s surgically repaired knee as an excuse for that clunker, it certainly would explain a lot.

Despite that horrendous outing, Wright still sports a solid 3.38 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in 10 appearances, including four starts.

Who fills Wright’s rotation spot?

The Red Sox are expected to use either Brian Johnson or Hector Velazquez to start in place of Wright on Thursday against the Los Angeles Angels. The decision may depend on if either is needed out of the bullpen in the meantime.

Manager Alex Cora suggested that the team will need another spot starter next week against the Washington Nationals. We can’t rule out Johnson or Velazquez getting another shot, particularly if one of them thrives with the opportunity on Thursday. However, it sounds like the Red Sox may call up a starter.

Waiting until next week in Washington would give them time to line up Jalen Beeks to get another shot. He was underwhelming in his major league debut, giving up six runs in four innings against the Detroit Tigers on June 7. Beeks is 5-4 with a 2.40 ERA in Pawtucket this season. His success at the Triple-A level warrants giving him another chance.

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Haley could be another option given that he’s been a starter in Triple-A. He’s 4-6 with a 3.06 ERA in 12 starts for Pawtucket. Considering he’s been called up now and isn’t being rumored for Thursday, it seems he’s here only for a short stint in the bullpen. Haley will probably be sent back down if the Red Sox call up Beeks or another spot starter next week.

The 27-year old tossed two scoreless innings in his only major league appearance this season. Haley’s only other big league experience was when he made 10 relief appearances for the Minnesota Twins last year, posting a 6.00 ERA and 1.56 WHIP.

The timetable for Wright’s return is unclear. He underwent the same knee surgery as Dustin Pedroia, who also returned too quickly only to be sent back to the DL. The Red Sox would be wise to take their time with Wright this time.

Drew Pomeranz is scheduled to throw a simulated game tomorrow. He’ll need a minor league rehab assignment before he’s stretched out enough to rejoin the rotation. That makes him an unlikely candidate to start in Washington next week.

The Red Sox may be forced to patch together the back of their rotation until the All-Star break. There are few opportunities to skip their No. 5 starter with only one off day until the break. Either Wright or Pomeranz should be ready to return in the second half. Until then the Red Sox will need to rely on their depth.

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At least it gives them opportunities to showcase some of that pitching depth ahead of the trade deadline.