It was just a month ago that the Red Sox thought Andrew Cashner would be a No. 5 starter who could get them over the hump. Yet a month later, the Sox have relegated Cashner to the bullpen.
He lasted just 1⅔ innings and 13 batters Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels, and allowed three earned runs while walking five and hitting a batter. He is 1-4 with an 8.01 ERA in six starts with the Sox, has allowed seven homers, and opponents are hitting .339 against him.
“He understands,” manager Alex Cora said. “He knows where we’re at. He hasn’t pitched the way he pitched the last five or six [starts] with the Baltimore Orioles. Velocity-wise, you saw it, he’s 95-96 [miles per hour]. I told him, ‘You still can contribute. You still can help us out.’ ”
Cora said Cashner most likely won’t be used as a long reliever, and did hint he thinks Cashner’s fastball could play a bit more in the bullpen. That could be a sign that he will use him in short roles instead.
Cashner’s underperformance is a significant blow. The starters as a whole have struggled this season, and Cashner’s demotion leaves the rotation in limbo. The upcoming day off Thursday will give the Sox some time to figure out where they will go from here, Cora said.
“Command was off and he wasn’t pitching well,” Cora said. “I think we can put him out there [in the bullpen] and use his stuff in different ways. He can be more aggressive with fastballs up in the zone or throw that changeup like he’s doing it.”
When asked if the Sox are considering using bullpen games for the fifth spot in the rotation, Cora said the team will take this a game at a time.
“We have to take it day by day. It’s not that easy, bullpenning just to bullpen. It’s a great concept, it’s a great word. At the same time, if we’re limited it will be hard to bullpen. Let’s see how it goes today and we’ll go from there.”
Chavis can’t shoulder it
The Red Sox placed Michael Chavis on the injured list with a left shoulder sprain in his AC joint. The injury occurred last Tuesday when Chavis made a stellar, over-the-shoulder diving catch in a 6-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals.
“It sucks,” Chavis said. “At least the way it happened, at least I made the catch. If I missed the catch, it would be worse. But it’s never something that you’re happy or excited about. The whole reason it’s been delayed a few days was because I wanted to be out there and help the team.”
Chavis said he really felt the pain when he finished his swing. Cora noted that he noticed Chavis taking some uncharacteristic cuts.
Since being called up in April, Chavis provided a significant boost to the lineup and infield in the absence of Mitch Moreland and Steve Pearce. Chavis heads to the IL hitting .254 with 18 homers and 58 RBIs. In August, however, he is hitting just .156 with a homer and 12 strikeouts in 34 plate appearances.
Chavis said this could be a reset for him.
“When you get away from something, it allows you to clear your mind,” he said. “Obviously, I’m a positive person, and I’m just trying to find the positive in all of this. That’s one of the things I’m looking forward to.”
Additionally, righthanded reliever Ryan Weber was optioned to Triple A Pawtucket, with pitcher Travis Lakins and infielder Marco Hernandez recalled.
Cora wouldn’t give a timeline on when Chavis would be back, but said they are hoping it’s around the 10-day mark.
David Price, placed on the 10-day IL last week, played catch at Fenway on Monday. The team is still trying to decide what it will do when his spot comes around in the rotation Wednesday . . . Xander Bogaerts has been a force for the Red Sox all season and delivered the game-tying double in the ninth on Monday, but he’s hitting just .245 in August after a 2 for 5 night. “Sometimes he’s in between the fastball and offspeed pitches,” Cora said. “He’s still getting his hits. It’s one of those stretches everyone goes through in the big leagues” . . . The Indians, as other teams have done this season, reserved a spot in the press box for longtime Globe baseball writer Nick Cafardo, who died in February. Along with flowers, the Indians left a baseball autographed by manager Terry Francona. “Nick, you are missed,” wrote Francona, who knew Cafardo well from his eight-year tenure managing the Red Sox.
Julian McWilliams can be reached at email@example.com.