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Last year, Dylan Covey’s season was mercifully interrupted by an oblique injury. He did what he could to downplay it in terms of his words after the game — “Hopefully this will be a short little recovery” and “see how it feels in the morning” — but I thought his delivery gave it away.
Watching him discuss the groin injury that knocked him out of Saturday’s start … and then cross-checking that video against one where he talks about a subpar outing with no health issues involved … maybe Covey always sounds on-the-verge-of-emotional when the topic isn’t fun, and last year’s prolonged absence was just a somewhat educated guess based on the time he’d previously missed with an oblique strain.
“After the fourth (inning), I threw a pitch,” Covey said. “I don’t remember what the play was. I was kind of jogging off the mound. It felt funny. It didn’t hurt really. I sat down and came out for the fifth and it kind of cooled down a little bit and I could feel it in my warmups.
“My drag (right) leg was not really painful, but nagging me. I was bracing every pitch for something. It was affecting the quality of my pitches.”
And when Covey asked whether he’d make his next start, he responded, “I hope so. I think tomorrow will be a test to see how it feels, how I bounce back. I’m hoping not to miss any time.”
If I had to wager, I’m guessing Covey will miss some time, whether it’s because the injury is legit or because there’s no reason to push him. Regarding the former, his lack of durability is the main reason why I haven’t been as enthusiastic about Covey’s medium-term prospects as Patrick. As for the latter, the oblique strains limited him to an average of 55 regular-season innings over 2016 and 2017, and he’s already at 83 innings between Charlotte and Chicago this year. This episode might give the Sox a reason to give him a 10-day breather, because he’ll still be on a pace to break new ground with his workload.
Should Covey need time off, they can go a few routes.
No. 1: Manipulate the off day. The Sox are idle on Monday, so they could skip Covey’s rotation spot temporarily by keeping everybody else on regular rest the next turn. This seems unlikely, as the Sox will play 13 straight afterward, including a bizarre Texas-Cincinnati-Houston road trip.
No. 2: A boring route. Hector Santiago doesn’t really have a whole lot to do in the bullpen, what with Xavier Cedeno, Luis Avilan and Jace Fry hogging all the lefty opportunities.
No. 3: Another boring route. Donn Roach has a 2.75 ERA in 14 starts with Charlotte this year. Part of it’s a decent ground-ball rate (55 percent), and part of it is some crazy home run suppression (just 4.3 percent of his flies are homers). He last appeared in the majors in 2016, making four relief appearances for the Mariners.
No. 4: The fun one. Michael Kopech has walked 21 batters to just 20 strikeouts over 16 innings in June, so I’m guessing they’d want to see at least one start where he exhibits good command before calling him up, considering Rick Hahn’s rhetoric over this time.
Whatever the case, it won’t be Miguel Gonzalez. Gonzalez is active and throwing, so much so that he begins a rehab assignment in Charlotte today as he comes back from rotator cuff inflammation, but he said he’ll need three or four starts to build up his arm strength.