Consider it the Andrew Cashner wake-up call

Rob Bradford
July 17, 2019 - 8:44 am

Andrew Cashner isn't going to be the Red Sox' savior. We were reminded of that Tuesday night.

Don't get it wrong, despite the starter's uninspired debut with the Sox this was still a good move for Dave Dombrowski to make. You gave up two 17-year-olds for one of the hottest pitchers in the American League. But, even with the five-start run so many were pointing to before he called Fenway Park home, Cashner is what he is, which the Blue Jays reminded us. He is a back-of-the-rotation starter who still probably be better than anything else the Red Sox have, but not the guy so many probably were hoping for.

The Red Sox' hopes are not pinned on Cashner. The Red Sox' hopes are pinned on the guys who they had already built the team around.

The Jays -- who had been held to one run over seven innings by Cashner in his previous start -- clearly were sitting on the pitch the newcomer identified as his biggest difference-maker, the changeup. That was certainly the case when Teoscar Hernandez took him deep for a three-run blast. And there is also the reality that comes with working with a new catcher and gameplan, as was evident by Cashner throwing his changeup at a higher percentage (44.6 percent) than any other time in his career.

It was easy to suggest Cashner won't be any better than Hector Velazquez in that fifth starter spot, but he will be. It's just that the press-release kind of run the righty entered town with should always be viewed with a wary eye. Remember Erik Bedard? Before the Red Sox acquired him at the non-waiver trade deadline in 2011 the lefty had a 10-start stretch in which his ERA stood at 1.82. After he got to Boston it didn't translate.

Even Nathan Eovaldi -- who represents a higher upside of what Cashner is coming to town with -- offered an impressive initial impression, beginning his Red Sox career with 15 shutout innings. Some, however, forget that the next 10 regular-season starts weren't exactly what the doctor ordered with the Sox going 4-6 in his starts, with opposing hitters managing a .303 batting average.

The point is that the Red Sox' Wild Card race mortality these days have more to do with Chris Sale's Tuesday side session or Heath Hembree's inability to retire any of the three batters he faced.

As was the case with previous July acquisitions Brad Ziegler, Addison Reed and Eovaldi, Dombrowski was (and is) hoping Cashner eases some anxiety. And maybe he will when the Sox run through their 14-game gauntlet against the Rays and Yankees. Still, this is (and was) just part of the problem. 

It's just that the Red Sox really can't afford too many holes in the boat.