Even before their pitching plans went up in the smoke of a 14-inning marathon here last night, it seemed unlikely that Clay Buchholz would make his next start for the Red Sox.
And now?
“We’ve got to get some arms in here,” manager John Farrell said after the Red Sox used eight pitchers in a wild 10-8 victory over the Rays. “Given how we’ve had to push everybody in that bullpen, we’ve got some decisions to make in here tonight.”
Start here: The Red Sox must find a starter for tomorrow night’s series finale. Left-hander Franklin Morales had been ticketed to make the spot start against the Rays, but that was before he was pressed into action for the final two innings last night. Morales threw 35 pitches over two scoreless innings and got credited with the victory.
Then, there’s the matter of a taxed bullpen. The Red Sox preferred not to use reliever Koji Uehara last night, especially after he threw 31 pitches Sunday against the Angels. But Uehara was needed for two innings after closer Andrew Bailey blew a save in the 10th, leaving the bullpen strapped.
And then, there’s Buchholz, dealing with a sore trapezius muscle on the right side of his neck, not far from the cranky AC joint that recently dogged him. He hasn’t thrown since leaving his last start in the seventh inning Saturday night, and according to Farrell, his between-starts bullpen session will be delayed “couple days at a minimum,” an indication that he will be at least pushed back from his scheduled start Friday night in Baltimore.
If Buchholz is unable to pitch Friday, the Red Sox were planning to turn to Triple-A Pawtucket, where Alfredo Aceves was slated to pitch yesterday in Syracuse before the game was postponed by rain.
But now, it appears Aceves may be needed even sooner.
If Aceves pitches in Morales’ place tomorrow, top prospects Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa could be candidates to fill in for Buchholz, if necessary, with Webster not scheduled to pitch until Thursday and De La Rosa until Friday.
One other potential problem: The Red Sox don’t have many pitchers who can be sent to the minors without clearing waivers. Unless Buchholz goes on the disabled list, they may have to designate a pitcher for assignment and risk losing him to another organization. After last night’s game, Farrell was meeting in his office with right-hander Clayton Mortensen.