Notes: Pitching plans; Verdugo's hot streak

August 23rd, 2020

Kyle Hart will make his third big league start on Tuesday against the Blue Jays in Buffalo, N.Y., followed by Nathan Eovaldi, who will look to follow up Thursday’s strong start against the Orioles.

After that, well, the Red Sox aren’t sure who will take the mound in the series finale.

Thursday would be Martín Pérez’s fifth day, but after the left-hander tossed seven innings in Baltimore on Saturday, the Red Sox decided to give him an extra day before his next outing.

“We just think that's a better way to do it,” manager Ron Roenicke said. “Trying to keep him and Nate separated also helps; since we've done that it seems to help our bullpen some, so we'll try to continue to do that.”

For Thursday’s finale, Roenicke said the Sox could bring up a Minor League arm, or they could rearrange the rotation, with Colten Brewer -- who started on Friday -- among the club’s options.

Hart is 0-1 with an 11.12 ERA in his first two starts, giving up two runs over 3 2/3 innings against the Phillies. That was an improvement from his debut, when he allowed seven runs (five earned) in just two innings against the Rays.

The lefty has struggled with his command, issuing seven walks in his 5 2/3 frames.

“Unless you're a strikeout pitcher, the walks are going to hurt you,” Roenicke said. “It’s really important for him to throw strikes, to get ahead in the counts to then he can start expanding. When you try to expand from the beginning and you walk people, you're going to get in trouble.”

Staying put
The Red Sox will remain in Baltimore after Sunday’s game, spending most of Monday’s off-day there before departing for Buffalo later in the day.

“With the restrictions that are put on us in Buffalo, I didn't want guys to basically be locked up in their rooms for the whole day off,” Roenicke said. “You can't leave the hotel in Buffalo. Here, it's not like it's just a free for all, but we have certain places we can go to here. They can get out of the hotel, walk around if they want to. In Buffalo you can't do that; it's hotel to ballpark and back.”

Coming into his own
Alex Verdugo has been impressive of late, entering Sunday with a 13-game hitting streak following his 2-for-5 performance Saturday. He kept the streak intact at 13 after drawing a pinch-hit walk in the ninth inning of Sunday's 5-4 loss. Verdugo has recorded extra-base hits in nine of his past 11 games, while his five outfield assists -- one of which he collected Saturday -- lead all MLB outfielders.

“I think we're seeing what he is all about right now,” Roenicke said. “I know the first couple of weeks, he didn't feel like he had his timing offensively. But the timing is there; it's a good, quality at-bat, there's not a lot of chases.

“He uses the whole field. He's got some pop, and then he does a real nice job on the bases, too; he's not afraid to steal a base. In the outfield, you see the range; you saw a really good arm [Saturday] night and he can go get a ball.”

Verdugo was the centerpiece of February’s Mookie Betts trade with the Dodgers, and through his first 26 games in Boston, the 24-year-old is showing why he was so highly regarded.

“This is a really well-rounded player,” Roenicke said. “The energy and the emotions that he has, I think he's going to be a fun guy to watch for a long time.”

Road to recovery
Andrew Benintendi has been on the injured list since Aug. 12 with a right rib cage strain, and while Roenicke had no substantive update on the outfielder’s condition Sunday, the manager fully expects Benintendi to return to the field this season.

“Benny's still a ways away, so I really haven't locked in on what's going on with him,” Roenicke said. “I don't know if they need to X-ray again to see how he's doing, or if it's just a matter of being pain-free, and then continuing to progress from there. … I know these things, at times, take a long time to heal. But I'm expecting him to play again.”