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Eovaldi to rejoin rotation for stretch run

@IanMBrowne
August 14, 2019

CLEVELAND -- Red Sox manager Alex Cora has mentioned repeatedly in recent days that some upcoming breaks in the schedule will allow him to be creative with the team's struggling starting rotation. And one of those creative moves has come to light, as Cora revealed that Nathan Eovaldi will soon

CLEVELAND -- Red Sox manager Alex Cora has mentioned repeatedly in recent days that some upcoming breaks in the schedule will allow him to be creative with the team's struggling starting rotation.

And one of those creative moves has come to light, as Cora revealed that Nathan Eovaldi will soon head back to the starting rotation.

In fact, if Eovaldi hadn't been needed in Tuesday's wild 7-6, 10-inning victory over the Indians, he would have started Wednesday's series finale in Cleveland.

But with his bullpen taxed, Cora went to Eovaldi in the eighth, and the flame-throwing righty got two outs on just six pitches.

Lefty Brian Johnson will now pitch Wednesday's rubber match.

"I don't want to sound dramatic or whatever, but it was probably the biggest inning of what we were trying to accomplish," Cora said after the win. "So I decided, 'You know what? We're all in now. Whatever happens tomorrow happens tomorrow.'"

Eovaldi opened the season in the rotation, but he was moved to the bullpen to speed up his return from a prolonged stint on the injured list due to right elbow surgery and biceps tendinitis.

It was hinted at that Eovaldi would eventually work himself into the closer's role once he gained comfort in the 'pen, but that never came to fruition, in part because Brandon Workman has been strong of late in the ninth inning and also because Eovaldi hasn't been all that effective as a reliever, posting a 6.75 ERA in eight outings. Eovaldi has allowed runs in five of those eight appearances.

Eovaldi will again be available to pitch in relief on Wednesday. After that, look for him to move back to the rotation in a gradual build-up that should keep him as a starter for the remainder of the season.

"Like I said, the days off are going to help us out, and obviously the struggles [in the rotation], we've got to find a way to get to the bullpen," Cora said. "If this is the way we can get on a roll, well, that's the way."

If Eovaldi had started on Wednesday, Cora would have set him free for about 55 pitches.

"Like I said, we're going to be creative," said Cora. "I think we've got a good chance to get on a run if we pitch well early in games. Obviously he's done it before. We counted on him before the season to do that."

Cora admitted that the transition in roles for Eovaldi wasn't seamless.

"I think the mix of pitches," Cora said. "I don't want to say he's in between, but sometimes, as a reliever, you have to simplify it and not do what he usually does. He did it before [in the postseason], but it obviously is a different stage."

After his heroics in the postseason, Eovaldi signed a four-year, $68 million deal to remain with Boston.

It has been a tough first season of that contract for Eovaldi, both in terms of health and performance.

"He just wants to contribute," said Cora. "He hasn't been able to do it this season like we planned it and the way he wanted it, but still, we feel he can make an impact."

Price check

Lefty David Price is making progress from the cyst on his left wrist that landed him on the injured list last week.

Tuesday marked the second straight day Price played catch at Fenway Park.

"Fastball was good," Cora said. "The cutter, the changeup were OK. He feels better. Soreness better, so we'll see tomorrow where we're at and go from there."

Price is eligible to pitch as soon as this weekend, when the Orioles come to Fenway. But with two off-days next week, the Red Sox could choose to be more conservative.

Brasier still working on location

It has been nearly a month since the Red Sox optioned righty Ryan Brasier to Triple-A Pawtucket. In eight outings since the demotion, Brasier has a 1.23 ERA with one walk and eight strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings.

How come Brasier hasn't been called back up yet? One word: Location.

"As far as the reports, his fastball location is lacking a little bit," said Cora. "It seems like the velocity's a tick up. He's getting people out. We've seen it. Everybody's seen the box scores and all that, but I think he's making strides to the right direction as far as location, which is the most important thing. Hopefully we can fix that, we can get that, the hope is to have him here and have an impact."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.