Hart to get 2nd start; Taylor, Darwinzon close

August 16th, 2020

Even the urgent nature of a 60-game season sometimes calls for some patience.

And Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke is demonstrating some with the decision to give prospect another start on Wednesday afternoon against the Phillies.

The 19th-round selection from the 2016 Draft made his Major League debut on Thursday against the Rays, giving up seven hits and seven runs (five earned) over two-plus innings.

After the game, a 17-8 loss, Roenicke had been non-committal on if Hart would stay in the rotation.

What was the deciding factor?

“I think really wanting to give somebody more than just one start,” said Roenicke. “It’s hard when you put a lot of pressure on a guy -- if you don’t have a good start, you’re not going to get another one. I don’t want him to think that way. We certainly would never tell him that, but I think if it happens a lot, they see that and I think they feel that way, and we don’t want to put that extra pressure on him.

“It’s hard enough to do well and perform here in the big leagues, so I think with Kyle, just knowing, yeah, go out there again and relax and pitch the way you can, and hopefully we get a good start from him.”

The 27-year-old left-hander didn’t seem shaken by the events of his debut.

“Obviously, the results, not even close to what I had envisioned, but it’s something that I’m happy I went through it,” Hart said after the game. “I’m happy that I can put it beyond me and start working and growing and just keep maturing as a pitcher, because I know I can compete at this level, although that wasn’t my best display.”

In a change of pace from recent weeks, Roenicke even went ahead for a few days on his rotation rather than going day to day. Righty Chris Mazza will come up from the alternate training site in Pawtucket, R.I., to start Sunday in New York. Lefty Martín Pérez had already been scheduled to pitch the finale against the Yankees on Monday. Zack Godley, coming off a tough start against the Rays, will go Tuesday, followed by Hart on Wednesday.

“I think [just] the two [set] guys [in the rotation] is hard,” Roenicke said. “I think, originally, when we were thinking about four, I didn’t think that was an issue at all. Then we got down to three, and I was still like, 'OK, we can do that,' but now it got down to two, it makes it difficult.”

'Startling' numbers need to improve
The pitching has been a big reason for the Red Sox getting off to their worst start through 20 games since 1996. But the offense isn’t exactly helping matters.

Star hitters Rafael Devers and J.D. Martinez are both performing way below expectations. Before going to the injured list with a right rib cage strain, Andrew Benintendi had just four hits in 39 at-bats.

“I think when I look at a lot of their numbers so far, it’s I guess you could say startling. I know what these guys can do,” Roenicke said. “And I know if we were playing six months where they would probably end up at the end of the year. Like you said, it’s only 20 games, but it is a third of the season.

“So I’m hoping these guys get it going. I look around the league, checking it out lately, and there’s a lot of great hitters that are also not hitting. So it’s not just our club. I know what we can do. I’m hoping we can get it together.”

Updates on Taylor, Hernandez
Lefty relievers Josh Taylor and Darwinzon Hernandez, who both reported to Summer Camp late after testing positive for COVID-19, are on the verge of being activated by the Red Sox.

Taylor could even be activated before the finale of the series at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. Hernandez is getting stretched out and was expected to throw three innings in Pawtucket either Saturday or Sunday.

“And after that we’ll see where he is in his pitch count and how he did,” Roenicke said. “Did he maintain his velocity, which means he’s back to full strength again? If he is, then sometime next week he could also be available.”

Hernandez came through the Minors as a starter, but the Red Sox used him in relief down the stretch last season. The initial plan was for him to stick in the bullpen this season. But given the problems the Sox are having in the rotation, those plans could change.

“I would think at the beginning, [he'll be used] as a reliever and maybe try to build him up a little bit there also,” Roenicke said. “Then if he slips into that starting role, then we’ll try to do that.”