In what will be its 16th season suspending players for taking performance enhancing drugs, Major League Baseball has given Steven Wright an 80-game suspension. Tests revealed a growth hormone in Wright’s system. Wright indicated he didn’t know how the PED entered his body, but accepted the suspension. 2019 will mark the second straight year in which Wright will begin the season with a suspension; he missed 15 games in 2018 after violating the league’s domestic violence policy.
Without Wright, the Red Sox depth in the bullpen will be tested. I tried to test the depth of the Red Sox myself, but I almost broke both of my arms trying to swim in a pool of baseball players.
Nobody new of any note has come into the fold besides Jenrry Mejia, who signed a minor league deal in January after being reinstated from a PED-related, lifetime ban that cost him the past 3 1/2 seasons. Via our depth charts, the primary pool of relievers appears to consist of lefties Brian Johnson and Bobby Poyner, and righties Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Heath Hembree, Tyler Thornburg, Hector Velazquez, Marcus Walden, and Brandon Workman, with knuckleballer Steven Wright coming along slowly after arthroscopic surgery on his left knee [update: and also suspended for 80 games due to a PED violation] and Carson Smith not available until sometime in midseason as he works his way back from last June’s shoulder surgery.
Jaffe took a look at the ‘pen’s depth chart and noted the projections were not very good. Wright’s 0.1 WAR projection doesn’t make his suspension seem like a big loss, but knuckleballers might be a difficult bunch to project given the lack of comps. The Red Sox were certainly planning on using him and saw something beyond what our projections see, or at least, saw something better than their other in-house options, which include little help from the minors.
While Wright wasn’t expected to start, it’s also worth noting the Red Sox have almost no starting pitching depth either. They have a very good starting five with Chris Sale, David Price, Nathan Eovaldi, Rick Porcello, and Eduardo Rodriguez, but almost nothing beyond that. Boston should be a very good team this season, but their pitching staff has some weakness to it. Wright’s suspension isn’t likely to affect much, but it does hurt their depth just a little bit more, and in what is likely to be a tight division, small losses can have big impacts.
Craig Edwards can be found on twitter @craigjedwards.