Injury to reliever could affect Red Sox’s Opening Day bullpen

2024 Boston Red Sox Spring Training
2024 Boston Red Sox Spring Training / Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages

With the positions of many members of the Boston Red Sox pitching staff up in the air, recent news of an injury could make setting the Opening Day roster even harder.

Red Sox reliever Bryan Mata has a strained hamstring and is out of action. It's unclear how long Mata will be out for, but with Opening Day just over a month away, missing any time at all isn't ideal. He'll have fewer Grapefruit League games to make his case for positioning in the bullpen.

The Venezuela native held a place on the 40-man roster and definitely had the inside track to be a mainstay in the bullpen when the season kicked off. Mata has never pitched in the big leagues, so any appearance he makes this season will be his first in the majors.

Mata is out of minor-league options which could make his return from a potential injury more troubling — he either needs to make the major league roster or the Sox risk him being snatched up by another club if they're forced to outright him. The 24-year-old is currently the No. 24 prospect in Boston's farm system, according to MLB Pipeline, and his time with the Red Sox organization has been plagued by other injuries as well.

Red Sox Bryan Mata faces hamstring strain that could keep him off Opening Day roster

Mata only made nine appearances in Triple-A in 2023 and logged a 6.33 ERA and 28 strikeouts over 27 innings. He's a career 3.41 ERA pitcher across six years in Boston's minor-league system. Mata is known for his high velocity and ability to miss bats, so they were hoping to finally see his stuff in action at the big-league level.

If Mata does make the 26-man roster and Boston can hold onto him, hopefully he can break the cycle of injury. The Red Sox can't afford another perennially-injured arm holding the pitching staff back yet again.

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