Red Sox Farm Report: Evaluating potential replacements for Marcus Walden

Nick Friar
April 16, 2019 - 8:13 am

The Red Sox leader in wins is back with Triple-A Pawtucket.

Marcus Walden only lasted nine days at the big league level before the Red Sox sent the reliever down on Monday. After surrendering two unearned runs on Saturday, Walden gave up three earned runs on a walk, a single and a home run, all coming in his second and last inning of work.

In addition to his two wins, Walden had 11 strikeouts while holding hitters to a .167 average in eight innings. Free passes were a bit of an issue allowing four free passes and hitting one batter. Though his walks per nine innings average (4.5) was only slightly worse than Heath Hembree’s (4.0) and significantly better than Colton Brewer’s (8.1).

Regardless, Walden is gone for now, which means Alex Cora will have to select someone else from the farm system. He could call up Sam Travis or Tzu-Wei Lin for short-term depth in the outfield or go with another reliever instead.

Here are his options if he decides to add to the bullpen:

 

Jenrry Mejia

The former Mets closer has dominated Triple-A hitters through his 6 1/3 innings of work. Mejia hasn’t given up a run, but what’s more impressive is his control: he has hit one batter and is yet to walk anyone.

Mejia isn’t on the 40-man roster, but there are three open spots. The only reason he wouldn’t be the right man for the job is if the team has any hang-ups regarding his past. But he’s sitting 93-94 mile per hour with his fastball, like he did while with the Mets. His slider has a consistent shape and depth, as well.

Mejia is closing games for the PawSox, so he could pitch in tight spots late in games for the Red Sox, as well.

 

Darwinzon Hernandez

The young lefty turned some heads in spring training with his mid-90s fastball. He only gave up one run in 11 innings of work (0.82 ERA) and struck out 12. Although Hernandez held hitters to a .184 average, he walked eight hitters, as well.

He has only made one appearance with Double-A Portland to this point in the season. In his start on April 7, the lefty struck out 10 in five shutout innings. Hernandez only gave up two hits, but his four walks show control remains an issue.

 

Bobby Poyner

The Red Sox are well aware of what Poyner brings to the table. He gave up a couple of runs in his first two outings with Pawtucket this year, but he has more experience at the big league level than anyone on this list, with the exception of Erasmo Ramirez, who we’ll get to in a second, and Mejia, who of course hasn’t pitched at the Major League-level since 2015.

 

Durbin Feltman

After giving up a run and two walks in his first outing with Portland, Feltman has been flawless, striking out three in his last two outings. But the 21-year-old is only in his second year of pro ball. As much as he got a taste of the bigs in Fort Myers (3 2/3 innings in four games) this would be a big ask.

Also, the Red Sox would have to add him to the 40-man roster. There’s room, but is that something Boston is prepared to do this early?

 

Travis Lakins

The 24-year-old has two outings where he’s surrendered a run and two where he hasn’t. He’s struck out eight in five innings of work but more importantly, he’s only walked one hitter. He could be the option if the Red Sox aren’t looking to bring up a left-hander or want to hold off on adding anyone to the 40-man roster.

 

Erasmo Ramirez

Ramirez is another member of this list not on the 40-man roster. He also has the most MLB experience on this list, having relieved in 100 of his 192 major league appearances. The righty has started two games in Pawtucket, his last being a six-inning effort where he struck out five, gave up three hits and did not allow a single free pass. Adding him to the 40-man might be a reach with the other options readily available.

 

Josh Taylor

Taylor has appeared in four games for Triple-A Pawtucket, covering 5 2/3 innings. He’s thrown two innings in two of his outings, so the Red Sox can stretch him when necessary. However, Poyner and Hernandez make more sense, for different reasons, if Boston elects to call up a lefty.

 

Chandler Shepherd and Denyi Reyes

These two only make the list of options because they’re both on the 40-man roster, but they are unlikely choices. They’ve worked as starters to this point in the year.

Shepherd has struggled in the early going. Over 10 1/3 innings, he has walked eight and struck out seven. He also has a 5.23 ERA. Shepherd could serve as a long reliever and hasn’t pitched since April 12, but he didn’t have much success in his third year at Red Sox spring training (seven earned runs in three innings).

Reyes would probably be the last option on this list, being only 22 and having made his last start on Sunday. He also scuffled through big league spring training (five innings, five runs and a .368 opponent’s average).