With the Red Sox once again struggling to find starting pitching, Brayan Bello has been the shining light. It’s a result the Sox didn’t necessarily predict, but the club knew Bello — who carries a 3.27 ERA into his 13th start of the season Thursday — could reach.
It starts with his preparation, something manager Alex Cora noticed once Bello reached the big leagues last season fewer than two months after his 23rd birthday.
“It started in conversations last year,” Cora said prior to Wednesday’s 6-2 loss to the Marlins. “We always make sure that the pitchers, after their starts, sit down with the analytics department and show them the outing as is.”
Cora said it’s impressive how Bello isn’t overwhelmed by all the information, but even more so in is his ability to buy in.
“I think it’s the willingness to use the information to your advantage and understanding that you’re good, but you’re not great,” Cora said. “You know, there’s a lot of things that he needs to do to be the guy that he wants to be.”
Bello has been the guy for his last 10 starts, averaging a shade below six innings per game and holding a 2.45 ERA. The righthander has allowed just one run in back-to-back starts.
“Last year I wasn’t as confident as I am this year. This year I have the confidence that I belong here. That I’m a big leaguer,” Bello said. “I’m here because I have a future. I belong here. I have good, good stuff and that’s why I’m here.”
Bello said it’s just as much about gameplanning.
“It’s a mix,” said Bello, “but my focus has been just to prepare every hour.”
Tanner Houck was concussed by liner
Tanner Houck underwent successful surgery to repair a facial fracture suffered when he was struck by a line drive on June 16 against the Yankees.
Cora revealed Houck also experienced a slight concussion, but the pitcher no longer has symptoms. There is no timeline on when Houck might be able to return to action, with Cora noting Ryan Brasier’s issues after he was hit in the head in 2021.
“You have to wait,” said Cora. “This is step one. He’s just recovering and next week, we’ll see how he feels. Obviously there’s a lot of steps that have to go into this, [from being] in the gym, moving around, keeping his arm going. I think that’s the most important thing. And we believe we can do that. And then we’ll decide.”
The Sox have used an opener in place of Houck, starting Kaleb Ort for the first two innings Wednesday. While it has proven effective, in some regard, it’s not sustainable. Over the long haul, teams’ bullpens become taxed. Cora believes his club’s upcoming schedule allows the Sox to avoid the fatigue factor.
“I mean, there’s teams that have done it throughout their years. It’s not only one team. There’s a lot of teams out there doing it. And it has worked,” Cora said. “So obviously with the off day on Monday, and the All-Star break coming, I think we’re in a good spot to keep doing it and then we’ll reassess the situation after the All-Star break.”
Seeking Chris Sale update
Chris Sale (left shoulder stress fracture) will have an MRI on Thursday so the team can see how the lefthander is progressing. Since hitting the injured list at the beginning of the month, Sale has remained with the team in Boston. “He’s feeling good, he’s doing real good,” said Cora. “Now we just need to make sure we know where we are at in the process and make decisions off that.” . . . Yu Chang (hamate bone fracture) is progressing toward his third rehab assignment. The Red Sox had to pull Chang off his prior two after he felt pain in his wrist area. Chang will DH for Double A Portland on Saturday . . . Joely Rodríguez (left shoulder inflammation) will pitch Thursday for Portland, while Richard Bleier (left shoulder inflammation) will throw a live batting practice at Fenway . . . The Sox paid tribute to the late Art Plant before the game. Plant, who died in November, was founder and president of the 1,100-member Red Sox Nation fan club at The Villages, Fla. His grandson, Nick, threw out the first pitch.