The Red Sox were in a bind at the fifth spot in the rotation, where they have wanted to add depth and length. On Saturday afternoon, they acquired 32-year-old starter Andrew Cashner and cash considerations from the Baltimore Orioles, sending minor leaguers Noelberth Romero and Elio Prado in exchange.
“He’s been throwing the ball well,” president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said prior to the matchup against the Dodgers. “He’s been a guy that has been in the big leagues for a long time. He definitely gives us an improvement in that fifth spot, where we scuffled for such a long time this year. We like a lot of things about him. We think he makes us better.”
This season has been one of Cashner’s best. He’s posted a 3.83 ERA for the Orioles in 96⅓ innings and has proven he can go deep into games. In his 17 starts, he’s gone seven innings three times — including his last two appearances — and six innings seven times.
Dombrowski believes this will alleviate some of the pressure on the bullpen, which pitched well Friday but sputtered for the most part leading up to the All-Star break, with a 5.40 July ERA in 23⅓ innings pitched.
The move for Cashner had to happen sooner than later. The Red Sox are in the midst of a 17-game stretch in as many days. From July 22–Aug. 4, the Sox will play the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays a combined 14 times.
“We’re embarking on a very important part of our schedule,” Dombrowski said. “We wouldn’t have made a deal if we weren’t comfortable making it. Everything fit together for us.”
Eovaldi big addition
Dombrowski is bullish on Nathan Eovaldi joining the bullpen, a move fully confirmed with the Cashner acquisition.
“For some reason, people seem to not grasp onto this, he’s a big addition for us,” Dombrowski said regarding Eovaldi. “I think it has more to do with where the timeframe was for Nathan’s situation coming back. And in his spot, unfortunately, it’s taking longer from just a health perspective to make it back. So, if you’re talking about building up a starter that can go six or seven innings, you’re probably talking about another month.
“We’ve always thought he could pitch in the [bullpen]. When we signed him, he really [did not] want to do that, because he had other organizations say they would sign him as a starter. He changed himself with his timeframe and said, ‘I’d be willing to do whatever you like.’
“We think he could be very helpful for us in the back part of the bullpen.”
Dombrowksi said that Eovaldi will rejoin the Sox in a week or so — which is news, because the Sox have been careful in providing a timeline for Eovaldi. He called the next few weeks leading up to the trade deadline “important.”
The Sox will explore adding another reliever, but Dombrowski mentioned they are comfortable with the guys they have now, particularly with Eovaldi rejoining the club soon.
On the move
The Sox have a poorly rated farm system and wanted to make sure they put themselves in win-now mode, but didn’t part ways with prospects in the Cashner trade who could help them in the near future. Both Romero and Prado are 17 years old, meaning it would be some time before they could make an impact on this Sox team.
“He’s an upside guy, an infielder who potentially play short, there’s a lot of physical upside to his frame,” said Sox assistant GM Eddie Romero on Noelberth. “Solid hands, really good arm, and he’s been performing.”
On Prado: “Plus athlete. High upside. He’s solid overall. There’s several things to like there: offense, defense, speed, instincts, really well-rounded player. I know these guys are far off, but it hurt.”
E-Rod shows life
Eduardo Rodriguez , whose seven innings of five-hit, one-run baseball on Friday got the series off to strong start, mentioned that his changeup and fastball were both working. But he feels like his fastball had a bit more life to it, though he wasn’t throwing 95-96 miles per hour.
“It’s not just velocity,” Rodriguez said. “It’s more about command. Where you are throwing your pitches. Where you want to throw it and that’s what worked for me. I was working location more than anything.”
According to Baseball Savant, Rodriguez’s fastball averaged 92.4 miles per hour on Friday, peaking at 94.1.
His changeup drew 11 swings and misses, but manager Alex Cora mentioned that that was because of his fastball and where he was locating it.
Mitch Moreland was scratched from the lineup during his rehab stint Friday in Pawtucket after feeling some tightness in his right quad during warmups.
“He came in here to get treatment and then drove over [to Pawtucket],” Cora said. “They had the doubleheader, he had to wait and it just didn’t feel right. So smart on his end. So, he’s here with us.”
The Sox hope Moreland feels better Sunday, so he can continue his rehab.