Andrew Cashner will fill out the fifth spot in the Red Sox rotation and will make his debut Tuesday against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway.
“Credit to ownership and Dave [Dombrowski] and baseball operations to give us a chance early,” manager Alex Cora said prior to the Sunday night matchup against the Dodgers. “Sometimes you wait until the end and it’s tough to make these type of trades.”
The corresponding move was Steven Wright, who went to the injured list with a right toe contusion suffered when Max Muncy lined a ball off his foot in Saturday evening’s game. Cora said Wright was sore and wasn’t moving well on Sunday morning.
Cashner gives the Sox much-needed depth, plus he has pitched well this season. In 96⅓ innings for the Orioles, Cashner posted a 3.83 ERA. He’s decreased the usage of his sinker — which hitters tagged for a .329 average last year — from 35.8 percent last year to 4.5 percent this season (according to Brooks Baseball), signficantly increasing the use of his changeup and four-seam fastball .
“He’s been throwing the ball well,” Cora said. “If you look at the last month and a half, he’s been facing a lot of teams in the chase for the playoffs. He made some adjustments. His stuff is better than it used to be. This is the guy that I’ve been watching since 2017 when he was in Texas. He competes and he’s not afraid to attack the strike zone.”
But while the addition of Cashner was significant, so is the loss of Wright from a depth standpoint. The Dodgers series started a stretch of 17 games in as many days for the Sox, who’ve struggled with keeping their bullpen fresh at least somewhat because of their starters. Look no further than Saturday’s Chris Sale outing where he lasted just 4 ⅔ innings.
Cora said the Sox are good with who they have in the bullpen. This stretch of games will certainly test that.
Waiting on Moreland
Mitch Moreland hasn’t played on his rehab assignment since Thursday. He was set to play in his second rehab game for Pawtucket on Friday, but was scratched from the lineup with tightness in his right quad. Moreland didn’t play in a doubleheader Saturday and instead got treatment at the team facility. The plan was for him to get some at-bats at Pawtucket on Sunday, but he was at the team facility again getting treatment.
The hope is to get Moreland in a game Monday.
Beating the shift
For the second time in as many days, Rafael Devers attempted to beat the shift with a bunt toward the third-base line Saturday. Friday’s bunt was unsuccessful — Devers later homered in the at-bat — but Saturday’s bunt, he got down.
Cora joked that he only likes his young slugger doing it sometimes, but said that the situation — which then led to a Xander Bogaerts two-run homer — was the right time to try it. When asked if guys in an earlier era had more of a knack for going the other way, Cora provided a thoughtful answer.
“Maybe, but at the same time it’s tough,” Cora said. “It’s a lot of fastballs up, breaking balls down. It’s not that easy to do it. We try to do a couple of things offensively to try and go against the shift. Overall, there are certain guys that are good at it and can do that.
“Offensively, you’re teaching these kids since they’re 12 to do whatever they have to do. You can see it with travel teams. You have to teach them how to play the game. It used to be in high school and college, you knew how to get [the runner] over, bunt him over. Now, the way the game is going, at 15 and 16 — even 12. You go to Perfect Game when you’re 12 years old, they’re trying to throw hard, run fast, and hit the ball out the ballpark. So you’re not actually playing ‘winning baseball.’
“It’s hard. It’s hard to teach those guys all that stuff: Go the other way, bunt a guy over. You know, second base late in game, go to the right side. If they don’t do that when they’re 10, imagine 20, 21.
First things first
Christian Vázquez had never started at first base in his major-league career before Saturday. But with Sale on the mound and Sandy Leon behind the dish, they wanted to keep his bat in the lineup. Cora described him as a good athlete who enjoyed the experimentation. “Before the game,” Cora explained on his exchange with Vàzquez, “I was like ‘If I didn’t know you, I would tell you don’t panic. But I know you’re not panicking actually, you’re enjoying this.’ ” Cora said they might use him in that role again . . . Cora posted a statement on his Instagram account on Sunday afternoon about a growing political scandal in Puerto Rico involving Gov. Ricardo A. Rossello and derogatory comments made on a private text chat with members of his administration. Cora wrote that he was disappointed and urged people in his homeland to stick together and rise above it . . . Before the game, the Red Sox recognized Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill and his wife Caitlin for establishing the ‘Field of Genes’ program at Massachusetts General Hospital to aid families facing rare genetic diseases. In 2014, while the Milton native was a member of the Red Sox, his infant son Brooks passed away from lissencephaly. The Hills donated $575,000 to start the program and hope to raise $1 million. Red Sox employees donated $10,000 to the program as part of the ceremony, which ended with Dr. David Sweetser of MGH throwing out the first pitch.