While the Red Sox bullpen was dominant on Thursday night, there was a noticeable absence.
On a night where the Red Sox had to utilize nearly their entire bullpen, it was a surprise when Josh Smith took the ball in the ninth inning. The situation seemed to align perfectly for Alex Cora to hand the ball over to his recently dominant reliever, Heath Hembree.
Following the contest, Cora gave further insight as to why Hembree was not utilized.
Heath Hembree felt forearm tightness so they decided to stay away from him. He’s getting checked out. Smith was their only option left to pitch the ninth so that’s why he was in in a one run game— Jen McCaffrey (@jcmccaffrey) June 14, 2019
Elbow tightness is typically a very bad sign for any pitcher, let alone one of the Red Sox hottest relievers. Since the beginning of May, Hembree has posted a 0.60 ERA over 15 IP and has held batters to a .118 batting average against.
There’s certainly no need to suggest that Hembree needs anything more than rest, as he suggested that he would be fine. Regardless, that given diagnosis can lead to a variety of end results. If anything, this news does validate Alex Cora’s decision to utilize a career Minor League arm in the most important inning of the night; however Smith converted the save.
At this point, the Red Sox don’t need any more injuries and losing Hembree would represent a big blow to a struggling bullpen. With the bullpen being heavily taxed against the Rangers, Eduardo Rodriguez needs to give the Sox some innings – and hopefully a win – against the lowly Baltimore Orioles.