Ryan Brasier is rapidly atoning for a bad start to the season.
Brasier has been one of the Red Sox most effective middle innings relief pitchers since being recalled from Triple-A Worcester on May 28.
A bad inning waiting to happen out of the bullpen in the opening weeks of the season, the right-hander began the campaign 0-2 with a 6.28 ERA and 10 runs allowed in 14 1/3 innings that included five home runs.
Those numbers compelled Red Sox manager Alex Cora to assign Brasier to Worcester. Brasier’s repentance in Triple A came at a juncture in the season where he had plenty of time to identify and remedy the problems.
“Some times when they kick your butt and you get demoted, you get something and you get going,” said Cora prior to Wednesday night’s series finale with the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park. “I don’t believe that’s the case but maybe. Last year the same thing, a similar thing, happened although he didn’t pitch in Triple A. But when he came back, he was close to what we saw in ’18.
“This year he was getting hit hard and now he’s using his fastball a little bit different compared to a month ago. His slider is better and you can see the confidence.”
Brasier owns a 2.25 ERA in his last 10 appearances with three earned runs in 12 innings. Brasier has been good locating the strike zone with only one walk in his last 12 outings. In 11 outings at Fenway, Brasier has allowed four earned runs in 15 1/3 innings and a 2.38 ERA.
“It’s the early work and trying to get back into being who I am when I’m good and not being who I am when I’m bad,” said Brasier. “I’m trying to get my mechanics to be where I need them to be and let everything else to fall into place. It just took me a little bit to find my right stuff and luckily I found it sooner rather than later.”
Brasier did his longest stint of the season in Tuesday night’s 5-4 victory over the Tigers, equaling his career high with two scoreless innings against the Tigers.
He entered the game in the sixth and retired six of the seven batters he faced. Brasier has pitched two innings six times in his career and five of them have been scoreless. He has retired 19 of the last 21 batters he’s faced.
“Yesterday (Tuesday) was huge for us and for him to go two innings,” said Cora. “Especially now that the rules of the tournament have changed, we need guys who can do that on certain days, especially when we are short. That was good to see.”
Trevor Story brings a shortstop’s athleticism to second base.
A shortstop in his six big league seasons with the Colorado Rockies, he shifted to second when he signed with Boston as a free agent on March 22.
Story has picked up the basics and the nuances of fielding second base, but Cora encouraged him to work the position in a manner that plays to his strengths with the glove. He is third in MLB with defensive runs saved with six.
“The first thing we told him is don’t think too much here, just be you,” said Cora. “If you have to throw off balance, throw off balance and if you want to underhand it, underhand it and just be an athlete. Get to the ball and throw it.
“Little by little you can see him make some adjustments and the way he moves is impressive. I’ve seen a lot of good second basemen but this guy, I do believe he is going to win the gold glove this year. For me, he is the best defensive second baseman in the game.”
For the record, Cora said that Robbie Alomar was the best fielding second baseman he ever saw.
Kiké not ready
Red Sox center fielder and leadoff hitter Kiké Hernandez remains out with a hip flexor strain and is unlikely make the trip to Cleveland. Hernandez was placed on the 10-day injured list back on June 8.
Cora is hopeful he will be back in the lineup for the Red Sox three game series against the Toronto Blue Jays beginning on Monday night at the Rogers Centre.
“Better but not what we expected,” said Cora. “Let see where it takes it now and we were hoping today that he would go out there and move around and swing the bat but it hasn’t happened because it slows him down.
“Now we have to see what’s the next thing. Is it treatment? Then he will stay here for the weekend.”
Hernandez’ replacement in center field, rookie Jarren Duran, will play in Cleveland but will not be making the trip to Toronto, leaving the Red Sox with depth issues in the outfield. Duran is unvaccinated and would not be allowed inside the Dominion of Canada.
“He is not vaccinated and he’s not going anywhere,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora.