Boston has found the fall guy–or at least the first fall guy–for a pitching staff that ranks dead last among AL teams in runs allowed, firing pitching coach Juan Nieves.
Nieves has held the job since 2013 and Boston won the World Series in his first season, but since the beginning of last year the Red Sox rank 12th among AL teams in runs allowed.
There were plenty of question marks attached to Boston’s rotation coming into the season because of the lack of a clear-cut No. 1 starter, but no one could have expected Justin Masterson, Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly, and Wade Miley all to have ERAs above (and several way above) 5.00.
No replacement has been named yet.
As expected the Royals have activated reliever Luke Hochevar from the disabled list, completing the former No. 1 overall pick’s comeback from Tommy John elbow surgery.
It’ll be interesting to see what role manager Ned Yost has in mind for Hochevar initially, because the Royals’ bullpen is insanely good and ridiculously deep right now and Hochevar hasn’t pitched in a big-league game since 2013.
He was great then, throwing 70 innings with a 1.92 ERA and 82/17 K/BB ratio after moving from the rotation to the bullpen for the first time.
To make room on the roster the Royals optioned left-hander Brandon Finnegan back to Double-A.
In a move that’s a long time coming, indians manager Terry Francona informed center fielder Michael Bourn that he’ll be benched against left-handed pitching.
Bourn, a left-handed hitter, has batted just .248 with a .632 OPS off lefties for his career, compared to .275 with a .716 OPS off righties. And he’s 39-for-180 (.217) versus lefties since the beginning of last season.
When combined with his declining speed and range in center field Bourn’s production against right-handed pitching has also been weak enough to potentially just bench him, period, but the Indians owe the 32-year-old former All-Star about $25 million through 2016.
Cleveland signing Bourn and Nick Swisher to a pair of big contracts totaling $104 million prior to the 2013 season has worked out very, very badly.
Edward Mujica entered this season as the Red Sox’s fallback plan at closer behind Koji Uehara, but 11 appearances later the 31-year-old right-hander has been designated for assignment.
Mujica wasn’t terrible, posting a 4.61 ERA and 8/3 K/BB ratio in 14 innings, but when combined with his underwhelming performance for Boston last season and declining raw stuff the Red Sox decided to cut bait on a pitcher owed $4.75 million as part of a two-year, $9 million deal.
Mujica posted some great strikeout-to-walk ratios and ERAs early in his career with the Padres, Marlins, and Cardinals, but he hasn’t topped 6.5 strikeouts per nine innings since 2011 and looks like a middle reliever at this point.
He’ll almost surely pass through waivers unclaimed.
Right-hander Jordan Walden was initially placed on the disabled list earlier this week with biceps inflammation, but now the Cardinals have announced that he’ll miss 6-10 weeks with a strained/torn shoulder muscle.
Acquired from the Braves as part of the Jason Heyward trade this offseason, Walden posted a 0.87 ERA and 12/4 K/BB ratio in 10 innings for the Cardinals. He has a 3.00 ERA and 10.8 strikeouts per nine innings for his 243-appearance career along with a mid-90s fastball, so it’s a tough loss for St. Louis’ bullpen.