Red Sox: Tyler Thornburg done for season

Boston Red Sox offseason acquisition of reliever Tyler Thornburg quest to join squad is now over after what will be season ending surgery

After two and a half months of waiting for Tyler Thornburg to pitch for the Red Sox, the wait is now over as it’s been noted that he will not be pitching in Boston this season. There is no telling when he’ll pitch again as the injury sustained is one that some pitchers don’t come back 100% from. Thornburg was shut down and will have season ending surgery for thacic outlet syndrome.

It was the worst case scenario for him and for the Sox, as Matt Harvey, a pitcher for the Mets also had the surgery and hasn’t been the same since. Former Red Sox pitcher Daniel Bard had the surgery as well and wasn’t the same and was out of baseball not long after that. This now puts even more stress on an already over used bullpen. All of the relievers look to reach new inning highs by the end of the season.

Matt Barnes has been used quite a bit so far this season and even with his suspension that rudely took him out for four games has pitched 30 1/3rd innings this season through Boston’s first 66 games. His career high was in 2016 with 66 2/3rd’s innings. Joe Kelly has also been a star in the pen with his electric fast ball regularly surpassing 101 mph. Kelly has a 1.27 ERA through 26 appearances.

As a former starter, I’m not as concerned with his work load although I’d rather him not be approaching 100 innings if it get’s to be that bad. Either way Kelly has been huge for the Sox and I wouldn’t be surprised if they used him as a player in a desperation start if necessary. Heath Hembree has also been used quite a bit with 31 innings pitched in 30 games this season. His career high was last season with 51 innings.

The anticipation for Carson Smith to pitch has only increased after the blow to Thornburg being done for the year. Smith had Tommy John Surgery last season and only pitched in three games. On Thursday, Smith did a little throwing in Philadelphia. He’ll still have to pass his medical exam before moving forward in his progression to Boston.

Assuming he passes that test, he’ll make a couple appearances in Pawtucket before finally moving back up to Boston. He’ll be welcomed by teammates when he finally makes it and fans will certainly warmly welcome him back. The story of the Sox getting relivers hasn’t always been warm and fuzzy.

The Sox have made a string of moves for relievers that has backfired most recently with Thornburg but also with Mark Melancon, Joel Hanrahan, and several years back even going out to get Eric Gagne. Most forgot that the Sox actually traded Melancon for Hanrahan. Going back to Thornburg, it’s cost the Sox a plethora of prospects and the last one certainly hurt the farm system.

The Sox lost Travis Shaw, along with Josh Pennington, Mauricio Dubon and less than two weeks ago had to send Yeison Coca to complete the trade. It’s one of the most lopsided trades against the Sox in recent years and this would now mark the second move the Red Sox have made where the pitcher they got was damaged goods or darn close to it.

It’s been too many moves too fast for Dave Dombrowski who after this, will hopefully pump the brakes going forward before making any more changes. It’s a different set of mistakes made from former Sox GM Ben Cherington. Going forward all we can do is now wait to see what Smith can do to alleviate the current relievers arms that at this rate could become over taxed.


Photo Credit – Kim Klement – USA Today Sports


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