Shortly after the final out of today’s loss to the Cubs the Red Sox announced that Josh Beckett has been scratched from his scheduled Sunday start due to shoulder inflammation.
Franklin Morales will make the start in his place, which is interesting because Morales has been strictly a reliever since the Red Sox acquired him from the Rockies in May of last year. He’s pitched well for Boston, throwing 56 innings with a 3.38 ERA and 51/19 K/BB ratio, but all 58 appearances have come in relief.
In fact, the last time Morales started a big-league game was for the Rockies on April 21, 2009. He lasted just two innings that day and has been a full-time reliever ever since. Morales is unlikely to pitch deep into the game Sunday even if he’s doing well, although he has gone three or more innings in an appearance twice within the past two weeks, throwing 52 and 36 pitches.
Beckett dealt with some shoulder/lat muscle problems last month, but he’s thrown at least seven innings in six consecutive starts and has a 2.68 ERA during that span.
In something of a surprising move, the Chicago Cubs fired their pitching coach, Chris Bosio on Saturday. Bosio had held the job since the 2011-12 offseason.
The Cubs made the NLCS this year, but were nowhere as near the formidable as their 2016 World Series champion iteration. While there were several reasons for that, one was that the pitching staff, which featured multiple, better-than-expected performances in 2016, but took a step back in 2017. Some of that was personnel — Joe Maddon did not have Aroldis Chapman to call on in the postseason like he did last year — and a lot of that was mere regression from veterans like Jon Lester and John Lackey. A lot of it had to do with a much higher walk rate this year than in the past.
Still, there was no chatter during the season or at the time of the Cubs’ playoff exit the other day that Bosio might be a fall guy. The Chicago Tribune reports that it was Joe Maddon’s call and that he had grown displeased with Bosio. The Tribune report suggests that Cubs pitchers will be displeased with the move as they were devoted to Bosio. Coaches, of course, come and go, so I suspect they’ll get over it.
Whatever the case, Bosio likely won’t say unemployed for long. He is widely credited with helping Jake Arrieta transform from a project to an ace and for the considerable and the somewhat unexpectedly successful development of Kyle Hendricks. The Tribune suggests that he’d be a good fit in Minnesota, where his former teammate Paul Molitor is in search of a new pitching coach.
There are several intriguing coaches available at the moment, most notably Mike Maddux, who has been the Nationals pitching coach but whose status is now in flux given the firing of Dusty Baker. Maddux’s brother Greg, of course, is a spring training pitching instructor for the Cubs. The Tribune adds that Maddon may look to his old Tampa Bay Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey or, possibly, even recently fired Red Sox manager John Farrell, who made his bones as a pitching coach.