The Boston Red Sox are finally making a move to fix try and help fix their bullpen. It's just not the one that many expected.
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According to NESN's Tom Caron, the Red Sox are planning on using starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi as their closer once he comes back from the IL. Caron wrote that Eovaldi "will serve as a traditional closer, and not as part of a bullpen-by-committee."
This move is somewhat of a surprise, especially considering that Alex Cora had firmly denied that Eovaldi would move to the bullpen earlier in the season. But now, it appears that the team is finally fed up enough with their bullpen to make the move.
The Red Sox bullpen has struggled mightily for most of the season. The team has a middle-of-the-pack 4.37 bullpen ERA, but they have blown 17 saves second to only the dumpster-fire New York Mets who have blown 21. Eovaldi could help patch that up considering his excellent velocity and his success as a reliever in the 2018 postseason (9 1/3 innings, one earned run out of the bullpen), but he comes with issues as well.
Eovaldi has only played in four games this season and had mixed results, logging a 0-0 record and 6.00 ERA in 21 innings pitched. He hasn't pitched since April 17 as he had surgery to remove "loose bodies" in his elbow. Bringing him back as a closer could afford him a quicker path back to the roster, as he won't have to be stretched out quite as long in his rehab action.
However, the Red Sox have struggled to field a quality starting rotation without Eovaldi, and they have gotten little to no production out of their fifth starters. Guys like Josh Smith, Hector Velazquez, Ryan Weber, and Darwinzon Hernandez have been forced into starting action, and with Brian Johnson on the IL once again, that doesn't seem likely to change any time soon, especially if Eovaldi is moving into the bullpen.
We'll see if the team follows through on moving Eovaldi to that role and if that experiment works out. Additionally, it will be interesting to see if the team tries to go out and acquire another starter on the trade market if they do permanently move Eovaldi to the closer role.
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