The Red Sox cleared Josh Beckett to start Wednesday after his 25-pitch bullpen session went well Monday, and they announced plans to return Daisuke Matsuzaka to the rotation on Friday.
Beckett, whose normal turn would have fallen tonight, was given extra rest after failing to come out with his best stuff in a no-decision last week against Baltimore. He previously threw 125 pitches on April 21 against the Angels, and it seemed his arm didn’t respond as well as hoped afterwards.
Matsuzaka left his start Friday in the fifth inning because of right elbow tightness, but the Red Sox have decided against putting him on the disabled list or having him skip a start. Like Beckett, he’ll be pitching on six days’ rest this week.
With both veterans in line to start, it doesn’t look like Tim Wakefield will get an opportunity for an encore performance anytime soon. Filling in for an ailing Clay Buchholz on Sunday, he pitched 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball (with the lone run scoring after he left) in his first start of the year. He exited in line for the win, only to end up with a no-decision when Bobby Jenks blew the lead. The Red Sox did end up winning in the bottom of the ninth to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Mariners.
Astros center fielder Carlos Gomez sat out the final series of the regular season in order to rest a strained left intercostal muscle, but there was good news coming out of a workout today in advance of Tuesday’s Wild Card game vs. the Yankees.
This has been a lingering issue for Gomez, who missed 13 straight games with the injury last month. He aggravated the strain on a throw to home plate last Wednesday and was forced to sit while the Astros fought to keep their season alive. Astros manager A.J. Hinch told reporters last week that Gomez’s injury would typically take 45-50 days to recover from, so it’s fair to wonder how productive he can be during the postseason.
Gomez mostly struggled after coming over from the Brewers at the trade deadline, batting .242 with four home runs and a .670 OPS over 41 games.
Nathan Eovaldi hasn’t pitched in a month due to right elbow inflammation, but he told Chad Jennings of the Journal News today that he expects to pitch out of the bullpen if the Yankees advance to the ALDS against the Royals.
Eovaldi was originally expected to throw a 35-pitch bullpen session today, but the Yankees moved up his timetable after the news that CC Sabathia was checking into alcohol rehab. Instead, he threw 10 pitches in a bullpen session before facing hitters for the first time since his injury.
There isn’t enough time for Eovaldi to get stretched out to start during the ALDS, but he could still play an important role for the Yankees, especially with Adam Warren looking like the most likely option to replace Sabathia in the rotation.