Photo Credit: Matt Stone / Boston Herald
The Red Sox bullpen imploded against the Yankees and emphasized an existing hole. Hopefully, the healing reliever will fill the need.
The young arm flashed potential in Milwaukee, taking over the closer role before being sent to Boston. In 219.2 innings pitched, he has posted a 2.87 ERA.
The Red Sox had hoped that Thornburg would be able to contribute right away, but the reliever fell prey to Thoracic Outlet Syndrome – an injury involving the shoulder. The rehabilitation process is by no means quick; however the former-Brewer is on the brink of making his debut in Boston.
Manager Alex Cora is very excited about the prospect of Thornburg’s return:
“I don’t want to be unfair with him,” Cora said. “I think we’ve been very patient with him and he’s been very patient. But the way he’s throwing the ball, I get excited because I know how good he was with the Brewers. He’s another guy that can help us out in the bullpen and we do have a great bullpen. We do feel that way. We mix and match.” – Interview via MassLive
Throughout his rehab assignment, Thornburg has appeared in 4 games:
3.2 IP / 2 Hits / 1 Run / 0 Earned Runs / 3 BB / 6 K’s
There are positive, and negatives, to those numbers. The immediate standout is the three walks in a very short amount of time. Red Sox relievers have struggled with control throughout the season and an increase in walks would certainly not help the staff.
On the flip side, Thornburg has strikeout stuff. He features a mid-90’s fastball with an impressive curveball.
Tyler Thornburg, welcome back.
Here are his 3 strikeouts from the 7th inning! pic.twitter.com/VBlMSMDdnR
— PawSox (@PawSox) May 1, 2018
Here’s Tyler Thornburg using his curveball for another strikeout in his third rehab outing. pic.twitter.com/bc0ziOIgkn
— PawSox (@PawSox) May 6, 2018
The State of the Red Sox Bullpen Address
As it stands, there are viable options for Alex Cora to utilize; however the Sox need more steady options against better opponents. On Wednesday night this was evident, as Matt Barnes failed to get the ball to Kimbrel in the 9th inning.
Carson Smith has rebounded from a rough start – allowing zero runs over his last 7 appearances – and may prove to be a more steady option down the road.
For now, the Red Sox bullpen is desperate for Thornburg’s return and perhaps he will be the missing piece in the bullpen.