CLEVELAND -- The Red Sox are at a place in the standings they can no longer give struggling performers time to figure things out.
And that’s what led to Monday’s announcement by manager Alex Cora that righty starter Andrew Cashner has been moved to the bullpen.
When the Red Sox acquired Cashner on July 13, the hope was that he would stabilize the fifth spot in the rotation, which had been a revolving door all season.
Instead, Cashner has struggled mightily for the Red Sox, going 1-4 with an 8.01 ERA in six starts. In 17 starts for Baltimore before the trade, Cashner was 9-3 with a 3.83 ERA.
“Cashner is going to be in the bullpen, starting [Tuesday],” said Cora. “I talked to him today. He understands. He knows where we’re at, and with the off-days and everything that is going on. And he hasn’t pitched the way he pitched the last five or six with Baltimore.”
After a grueling stretch of 34 games in 34 days, the Red Sox have a day off on Thursday, followed by two next week. This gives Cora the flexibility he didn’t have before to do some maneuvering with his struggling rotation. He has yet to name a starter for Wednesday’s finale against the Indians.
Was there any thought to pulling Porcello (10-9, 5.67 ERA) from the rotation?
“No, no,” said Cora. “I do feel that although the results are not there and obviously you see the whole season and the numbers and all that, he’s made some strides actually the last two games and a half as far as the [stride] direction and the stuff [he was working on]. He gave up that home run the other day but we do feel that we’ll be fine with him. We can’t put everybody in the bullpen, so we’ll stay where we are.”
As for Cashner’s move to the bullpen, Cora hopes it pays dividends.
“Velocity-wise, you saw it, 95, 96, so I told him, ‘Hey man, you still can contribute. You can still help us out.’ He told me he’ll be ready for tomorrow,” said Cora. “The off-days are the off-days and we’re going to build it up around that. We need to win ballgames so we’ll try to structure it the best way we think we’re gonna win ballgames.”
Still, he believes
Entering action on Monday, the Red Sox trailed the Rays by 7 1/2 games for the second Wild Card spot and were also six behind the Athletics. Though the math isn’t pretty for Boston, Cora still believes the defending World Series champions can play their way to October.
“We do believe we can do it,” said Cora. “We do believe we can have a run, but we have to do it in a different way. It just so happens that the schedule plays into our favor now and we can be creative with the rotation.”
Cora was asked if the players also believe.
“Talking to them yesterday on the plane, yeah. We keep talking, we keep going over stuff,” Cora said. “You look around the league and what’s happening, at Citi Field [with the Mets], you win 14 out of 15, it happens. Like I told you guys before, good teams go through stretches of losing eight, nine, 10 in a row and there are some bad teams, they win 13 in a row, 14 in a row.
“I’m not saying the Mets are a bad team but you understand my point. We haven’t had that run the whole season. We know what we have to do the rest of the season. We can do it, but it starts here in Cleveland. It seems like they turned the season around when they went to Boston, so why not turn our season around here in Cleveland? It starts with us.”