Carson Smith‘s apparent forearm injury is the worst thing that has happened so far this spring.
I’ve made no secret about my belief he would’ve been the closer by the end of the season. He was also the best add the Red Sox made during the offseason.
It could be that it was just a cramp. But from the way Smith is talking to the Boston media, from the way Red Sox officials are talking to the media, it sounds serious. We’ll have to wait and see if Tommy John surgery is in his future.
Presently, though, it’s at least a temporary (and potentially huge) blow to what had looked like the Red Sox strongest component heading into the regular season.
Craig Kimbrel is great, there is no question about it. But an undeniable facet of the closer’s role is its inherent volatility.
Closers like Trevor Hoffman, Mariano Rivera and even Koji Uehara are an entirely different breed because their main weapon was not velocity. Finesse is the key to longevity in the closer’s role, and Kimbrel’s game is primarily heat.
It can’t last.
It’s the same reason it’s hard to like Aroldis Chapman long term. Or Trevor Rosenthal. Carter Capps will already miss the year with Tommy John surgery. And now it appears as though Carson Smith is heading down the same road.
There is no arguing the current performance. But speed is bound to blow up, sooner more likely than later.
It’s also not speed in and of itself that’s unlikable – it’s the price clubs pay for it (which is why there was so much to love in the Wade Miley for Smith and Elias deal so much and why there is so much to hate about the Kimbrel for four valuable prospects).
It you can get it for cheap, then why not?
For now, at least, it appears Elias will indeed make the major league roster – if only as a reliever to start the year. Or perhaps this opens a door for Carlos Marmol, who is having a decent – if not good – spring (4 IP, 5K, 2.25 ERA, 1.75 WHIP – that last number is the troublesome one).
On the plus side, Clay Buchholz turned in a solid start on Monday (4.2 IP, 2K, 5 hits, 1 BB, 1 ER). Clay remains the most important marker as to what type of season this is going to be.
Price has shown he is going to be in fine form. Joe Kelly has looked strong. If Buchholz is on and Kelly’s performance solidifies, it could be a very special year. If the club can scratch out a win per rotation between Porcello and Steven Wright until Eduardo Rodriguez returns, things look OK.
The bullpen, though, will have to be on and healthy. And, suddenly, that’s a question mark.