There was a time when many thought Ryan Brasier and Matt Barnes would provide a stifling and reliable pairing in the Red Sox bullpen to close out games this season.
“We like Barnes and Brasier as the possibility of pitching at the back end,” president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said in December.
The Red Sox are still waiting.
Brasier has not met those expectations, so he’s on his way to Triple A.
The Red Sox optioned Brasier to Pawtucket and recalled Darwinzon Hernandez on Tuesday. The move comes a day after Brasier gave up four hits and three earned runs, but only got two outs in the eighth inning of the Red Sox’ 10-8 win Monday.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Brasier needs to go down, reset, and make some adjustments.
“I think overall, location has been a struggle for him,” Cora said. “Where he goes with the fastball, it hasn’t been there really the whole season. And the slider, it’s been inconsistent. So just go down there, keep working, and see where we go after that.”
Brasier’s numbers aren’t near as strong as 2018. Last season, he finished with a 1.60 ERA, allowing only 19 hits and six earned runs over 33⅔ innings.
Those numbers gave the Red Sox confidence heading into the season. But the numbers Brasier has produced since have prompted the demotion.
His ERA after Monday sat at 4.24, as he has given up 37 hits and 19 earned runs over 40⅓ innings.
“With Brasier, he knows he’s important,” Cora said. “It’s just a matter of right now where we’re at, we feel it’s the right move for him and the roster.”
Positive outlook for Holt
Brock Holt has more than made up for missed time after being sidelined most of the first two months of season.
Holt doubled, walked, and scored in the Red Sox’ 10-4 loss to the Blue Jays. Since Holt returned May 27, he is hitting .381.
Holt pointed to confidence and positivity as the main sources of his success at the plate.
“Just worry about focusing on the positive things that are happening instead of me being so results oriented,” Holt said before the game. “Everyone looks at the results, and that’s how you are viewed as a player. It’s a numbers game. But for me, it’s trying not to focus so much on the numbers as much as the at-bats and seeing the ball, and putting a good swing on it.”
Highs and lows
Rafael Devers’s performance at third base never seems to lack for excitement, for better or for worse.
Monday’s game against Toronto provided a microcosm of his play this year. One moment, Devers made a highlight-reel worthy play, collecting the ball and throwing a runner out at first. In another, Devers made a throwing error at second base.
“I bet you he is not going to make the same throwing error to second base like he did,” said Carlos Febles, Boston’s third base coach and infield instructor.
It takes committing those errors, Febles said, to eliminate them. He has seen significant improvement from Devers, who came up to the majors less than two years ago as a 20-year-old. Febles knows Devers just needs more experience to become a crisp and consistent third baseman.
“He had to learn some things on the run, which is hard, some things that are supposed to be learned in the minor leagues,” Febles said. “It’s not his fault. He’s a talented kid. I think the sky is the limit for him.”
Devers was also named Tuesday as the Red Sox nominee for the Heart and Hustle award, an honor given to a player who “best embodies the values, spirit, and traditions of the game,” according to the release from the MLB Players Alumni Association.
The winner will be announced Nov. 7. Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts won last year.
Mitch Moreland, who was placed on the injured list June 8 for a right quad strain, hit and took ground balls Tuesday.
Cora said the goal is for Moreland to join pitcher Nathan Eovaldi in Pawtucket and play in a game Wednesday, weather permitting.
Eovaldi last pitched April 17, and has since had surgery to remove a loose body from his elbow, and then developed biceps tendinitis.
Pitcher Brian Johnson, who remains on the injured list with a non-baseball related medical matter, will throw a simulated game Wednesday or Thursday.
Steven Wright, whom the Red Sox placed on the injured list with a right big toe contusion July 14, is just sore, Cora said.
“Most likely what we do is when we go on the road, he will go to Fort Myers to stay on top of it,” Cora said. “Keep going through his throwing progression.”
At the end of his news conference before Tuesday’s game, Cora said it is not easy to watch what is going on back home in Puerto Rico.
Contents of messages between Governor Ricardo Rossello and government officials that use misogynistic and homophobic language were released, which has led to calls for Rossello’s resignation.
“I am disappointed,” Cora said. “Mad. Sometimes I wonder, ‘Where are we going?’ I’ve got my kids who I am not planning on moving from there, but you see what is going on and you’re like, ‘What’s going to happen?’
“At the same time, we have been through this before as a country. The only thing I can tell the people from back home and the people who live in the states: ‘Just stay together.’ ”