The Boston Red Sox have called right-handed pitcher Josh Smith up from Pawtucket to start Friday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Only a handful of hours before the Boston Red Sox were set to take the field Friday night, we still weren’t certain who they would be sending to the mound. Now we have our answer.
Right-handed pitcher Josh Smith has been called up from Triple-A Pawtucket to make a spot start against the Tampa Bay Rays. Reliever Travis Lakins, who flashed potential in his brief stint with the big league club, has been optioned to Pawtucket to clear a spot on the 25-man roster.
You may be wondering, who is Josh Smith? Well, you’re probably not alone. The former 21st-round pick in the 2010 draft isn’t a top prospect and hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2017.
Smith is 5-8 with a 5.30 ERA and 7.3 K/9 in 67 career appearances, including 9 starts, split between the Cincinnati Red and Oakland A’s.
The Red Sox signed Smith to a minor league deal last May after he was released by the Seattle Mariners organization. He’s 1-1 with a 3.78 ERA, 12.4 K/9, and 2.7 BB/9 in three starts for Pawtucket this season.
The 31-year old’s track record doesn’t invite much confidence but his arrival in Boston should be short lived. The Red Sox need a spot starter with Nathan Eovaldi on the shelf and Tuesday’s doubleheader throwing a wrench in their rotation plans.
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Darwinzon Hernandez would have been a more exciting option but the Red Sox aren’t able to bring him back yet after he served as the 26th man for the doubleheader. There was some speculation that Mike Shawaryn could get the opportunity to make his big league debut. The No. 13 prospect in the Red Sox organization has posted slightly better numbers than Smith in Pawtucket this season with a 3.63 ERA, 9.3 K/9, and 2.4 BB/9. He also comes with far more upside, although the Red Sox may not want to waste his first promotion on a single spot start.
Boston’s rotation lines up with David Price starting on Saturday, followed by Chris Sale to wrap up the weekend series against the Rays. Eduardo Rodriguez, Rick Porcello, and Hector Velazquez will start against the A’s next week.
The forecast calls for rain tonight so there’s a chance the game will be washed out. That could save the Red Sox from having to rely on a spot starter. That may have been part of the thought process in calling up Smith. Why waste a minor league option on a more valuable prospect if he may not even be needed? Another doubleheader could create further complications for the pitching staff but this game wouldn’t necessarily need to be made up this weekend if it’s rained out. The Rays will make plenty of other trips to Boston this year.
Boston swept the Rays in Tampa last weekend and rallied back from Tuesday’s disappointing doubleheader beat the Detroit Tigers in the last two games of their series. They’d like to build on that momentum so hopefully they won’t be stalled by having to rely on a journeyman who hasn’t shown much success at this level.