Red Sox: Josh Taylor and Darwinzon Hernandez begin rehab post COVID

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 25: Josh Taylor #72 of the Boston Red Sox throws against the Texas Rangers in the seventh inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on September 25, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 25: Josh Taylor #72 of the Boston Red Sox throws against the Texas Rangers in the seventh inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on September 25, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Red Sox pitching staff may get a boost with relief pair beginning rehab

We’re four games into the 2020 Red Sox season and let’s just say things haven’t quite gone to plan. The offense kicked in the door and then went missing while the pitching has been front and center, and not for good reasons. Boston’s starters are allowing teams to walk all over them, forcing the offense to break their backs to get anything going and the relievers to hold the wall.

Luckily for the Red Sox, they have a pair of strong relievers beginning their road back to the big leagues this week. Both Josh Taylor and Darwinzon Hernandez tested positive for COVID ahead of camp. Each has passed the necessary number of test to clear their health and allow them to re-join the team in Boston. Ron Roenicke spoke on the return of his hard-throwing southpaws and the plan to get them up to speed this season.

"“They’re still a ways away,” Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke said about both relievers. “We’ve got to go through live BP. Josh will throw today. He’ll take a day or two off. He’ll throw another live BP, take a day or two off. And then he’ll throw basically a simulated game.”"

Though things sound good as of now, we’ve already seen with Eduardo Rodriguez’s recovery, that we still don’t know a damn thing about the coronavirus and its long-term effects. Today saw Taylor take the mound and throw batting practice at McCoy Stadium. It was a promising return for the lefty as he struck out two of the four batters that he battled. Now he’ll get a few days off to rest and recover before the next phase of his return.

For Hernandez, his road begins with tomorrow’s batting practice. Per Roenicke, he’ll follow a similar path as Taylor where it’ll be a short outing followed by a few days of rest. The pair of lefties would be a welcomed addition to the Boston pitching staff but rushing them back to action would do far more harm than good for all involved.

With the way things are going for the Red Sox if the team continues down this path, the season may be lost, and bringing the duo back could be a waste. Hopefully, we don’t get to that point and we can see the duo pitching in meaningful games in 2020, especially after the solid campaigns they had last year.

Taylor and Hernandez become go-to relievers for Red Sox

Taylor and Hernandez both made their big league debuts last season and each had some ups and downs. As the season progressed and Alex Cora began to mix in some younger arms into the bullpen, we would see these two pretty often. Hell, Taylor would become one of Cora’s most trusted guys down the stretch.

In 2019, Taylor finished 2-2 with a 3.04 ERA through 47.1 innings. His K/BB ratio of 62/16 was off the charts good and allowed him to finish with an 11.8 K/9. He would be added to a battery of the more trusted relievers in the Boston bullpen alongside Marcus Walden, Matt Barnes, and Brandon Workman. If he can get healthy and get back to his 2019 form, I look for him to be used in a similar fashion with those three.

"“And then we are trying to decide whether we need to get him to two innings or not,” Roenicke added. “So all those things come into play. And how he does and feels really come into play in how quickly we can do this.”"

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For Hernandez, making it to the big leagues was a bit of a surprise, at least for me. He was one of the top pitching prospects in the Boston system but still felt like he needed another year or two to develop. Well, things got a little weird in 2019 and it allowed him to make his debut. The lefty has some electric stuff and his fastball is something that most pitchers would kill for when he can control it.

Remember that scene in “Major League,” where Ricky Vaughn is throwing his heat and it’s going all over the place and nearly kills the radar gun operator? Yeah, that’s kinda what we saw from Darwinzon in 2019. His fastball is unhittable but his control could use some work as walked nearly as many batters as he struck out (57/26 K/BB).

If he can get that fastball to go where he wants it to then he can become one of the best relievers in the league, nobody will touch him. The evidence is there with his 16.9 K/9 through the 30.1 innings he tossed.

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With the way that this season is going have more pitchers available to call upon will be a good problem for Ron Roenicke to have. The Red Sox are going to be burning through their relievers, especially if the starters can’t keep the game under control early. Taylor and Hernandez have proven they can get the job done when called upon, now it’s just a matter of getting them healthy and back on the mound.