The Boston Red Sox just finished a three-game sweep of the first-place Tampa Bay Rays, but they didn’t make it out of the series without some bad news. Right-handed starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi suffered a loose body in his elbow and is likely out for six to eight weeks. Eovaldi was one of the best arms in the Red Sox rotation, and now Boston needs to find a way to replace the righty during his recovery. While the Red Sox don’t have great pitching depth right now, they do have a few players capable of helping to fill Eovaldi’s role.
What to Do Without Nathan Eovaldi
Replacing Nathan Eovaldi won’t be as simple as calling up another starting pitcher. Nobody in the farm system is good enough to handle a full-time starting role. The only player remotely capable of that is Hector Velazquez, and even that’s risky. The Red Sox will probably start Velazquez every fifth day, but it would be a surprise to see him go more than three or four innings in any particular start. Asking him to face a batting order a third time is just asking for trouble, as he doesn’t possess the skill set required to continuously fool batters. The Red Sox will need to take a page out of the Rays’ book and use their bullpen every fifth day.
Mike Shawaryn (Scouting Report)
Velazquez alone can’t get the job done, and the Red Sox will need to promote another pitcher capable of eating multiple innings at a time. Right now, the best option appears to be our number 13 prospect, Mike Shawaryn. Shawaryn doesn’t have the most electric pitch tool but is good at getting everything he can out of his pitch set. He has decent accuracy and a solid array of complementary pitches where he should be competitive against major league talent. He’s nobody’s idea of a top-level starter, but he’s more than capable of eating two or three innings in conjuncture with Velazquez.
Shawaryn has currently pitched 22.1 innings with the Pawtucket Red Sox this season. During his time on the mound, the righty has compiled a respectable 3.63 ERA with an above-average 2.62 FIP. He’s striking out 9.27 batters per nine innings while issuing just 2.42 walks per nine. Shawaryn spent the second half of the 2018 season with Pawtucket, tossing 36.1 innings to the tune of a 3.93 ERA and a 4.64 FIP.
Darwinzon Hernandez (Scouting Report)
Shawaryn has more experience, but the Red Sox could turn to the player with more upside. Darwinzon Hernandez is probably the best arm in the Red Sox system and entered the season as my number two prospect. The lefty dazzled everyone in spring training with his fantastic pitch tool and was even in the discussion for making the Opening Day roster. While he ultimately didn’t make the club, he ensured that he will be in the big leagues sooner rather than later.
Hernandez has carried his hot start into Portland. While he’s only made two starts, he’s looked fantastic in both his outings. The lefty has pitched 10 innings to the tune of a 1.80 ERA and a 2.38 FIP. He’s borderline unhittable, as Hernandez currently boasts a borderline-elite 13.50 K/9. Unfortunately, he’s still walking too many batters (6.30 BB/9). Walks have always been his biggest issue, but that won’t be too big of a problem if he’s only asked to pitch two or three innings at a time.
This is easily the least inspiring option of the three, as Erasmo Ramirez simply isn’t that good of a pitcher. However, the Red Sox already called him up to the roster, meaning that his salary counts against the luxury tax in 2019. The Red Sox are already tied to the luxury tax line, so they might as well try to get something out of the 28-year old.