The Red Sox will activate right-hander Michael Wacha from the 15-day injured list today, manager Alex Cora told reporters (including Julian McWilliams of The Boston Globe). Wacha will get the start for tonight’s game against the Yankees.
Right shoulder inflammation sent Wacha to the IL on July 5, so between this absence and a previous 15-day stint in May due to left intercostal irritation, Wacha has missed a good chunk of his first season with the Red Sox. When he has been able to pitch, the righty has been arguably Boston’s best hurler, with a 2.69 ERA over 70 1/3 innings.
This performance is tempered by a 4.56 SIERA, a .240 BABIP and a slate of unimpressive Statcast metrics, so some regression seems almost inevitable. However, in terms of pure bottom-line numbers, 2022 represents a very nice bounce-back for Wacha after he posted a 5.11 ERA in 285 1/3 innings in 2019-21. The Sox have already gotten a decent return on their one-year, $7MM investment in Wacha during the offseason, and if he can continue to defy the metrics, he could be a key arm for the Red Sox down the stretch.
The starting rotation has been a question mark for the Sox virtually all season, with injuries and/or inconsistency plaguing just about every pitcher on the roster. Chris Sale’s season-ending wrist surgery means that Boston won’t ever truly have its first-choice starting five all going at the same time, but Wacha’s return at least represents one more piece of the puzzle. Wacha joins Nathan Eovaldi, Nick Pivetta, Rich Hill, and Kutter Crawford in the rotation, with Josh Winckowski likely to return to bullpen work, and James Paxton tentatively set to make a September return after undergoing Tommy John surgery in April 2021.
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