The Boston Red Sox will turn to promising young right-hander Brayan Bello to start on Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Rays, Bello confirmed to MassLive.com. Manager Alex Cora told reporters Monday that Bello was a candidate to get the nod.
Bello, 23, has improved his stock dating to last year. In 15 appearances split between Double- and Triple-A this season, he's amassed a 2.33 ERA and a 3.45 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Bello was recently ranked by Baseball America as the fourth best prospect in Boston's farm system, noting that he has mid-rotation upside thanks to an arsenal that includes an above-average fastball and slider and a plus changeup.
FanGraphs, conversely, wrote that Bello was "poised for a high-leverage setup role" in the preseason, due in part to a delivery that is more befitting of a reliever.
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The Red Sox are currently down an entire rotation. Nathan Eovaldi (back inflammation), Rich Hill (sprained knee), James Paxton (Tommy John surgery), Chris Sale (stress fracture in rib) and Garrett Whitlock (hip inflammation) are all on the injured list. As a result, Boston has had to reach into its system to fill the void. As for Sale, he seems to be nearing his return to the rotation and his 2022 debut. Cora on Tuesday told MLB Network Radio that Sale will make another minor-league rehab start on Wednesday and if all goes well he could be activated prior to his next scheduled start. The 33-year-old lefty hasn't pitched in a game at the highest level since Game 5 of the ALCS last year.
Even with those injuries, the Red Sox have improved their positioning within the American League East, entering Monday in second place with a 44-35 record. The month of July will be a challenge for the Red Sox if they want to remain there. Boston will play its next 17 games against three AL East foes -- including the next 14 against either the Rays or the New York Yankees. The Red Sox will not play a non-East rival again until July 25, when they begin a series against the Cleveland Guardians.