Forget the Cold War; the Red Sox and Yankees have been engaged in an arms race of their own this week. First, the Yankees nabbed Orioles reliever Zach Britton, a bullpen addition the Red Sox clearly need after last night’s loss to Baltimore. Then, this morning, after the disastrous combo of Drew Pomeranz and Joe Kelly gift-wrapped a win for the worst team in baseball last night, the Red Sox announced that they had traded minor-leaguer Jalen Beeks to Tampa Bay in exchange for starting RHP Nathan Eovaldi.
Both teams are in need of arms, to be sure. Ironically, each team kind of got a pitcher the other needed.
But I don’t want to talk about Britton or Eovaldi right now.
I want to talk about Hector Velazquez, the former Mexican League pitcher who joined the team this year after spending most of 2017 with the Paw Sox in Rhode Island.
Velazquez has literally been used for everything from start to finish and has done so with consistent skill and grace. Yes, he gave up a run to Baltimore last night, but only after coming into a lovely bases-loaded mess created by Joe Kelly. He’s 6-0 on the season, with a 2.50 ERA over 30 games played. He’s struck out 34 batters over 54 innings, but only allowed 15 runs, 5 of them home runs. In the six games in which he pitched more than three full innings, he never allowed more than two runs, and never more than a single homer. He was the starting pitcher for the Red Sox’s 8th straight win earlier this month, his third starting appearance of the season.
I think Velazquez deserves more playing time, and the Red Sox could use him. Unlike Drew Pomeranz, Velazquez is able to go longer than three full innings without allowing a home run. Eovaldi will be added to the starting rotation as early as this weekend, which frees up Velazquez to pitch longer stretches in more games coming out of the bullpen. I’m no manager or coach, but I have eyes; the way Kelly is throwing this last month, Velazquez is a more reliable choice. He’s earned it.
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