Boston Red Sox

Tyler Thornburg of the Boston Red Sox walks to the dugout after pitching during the ninth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on April 15, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. All uniformed players and coaches are wearing number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

By Matt Dolloff,

The Red Sox announced on Wednesday that they’ve released right-handed pitcher Tyler Thornburg. The reliever refused an assignment to Triple-A Pawtucket, which precipitated his ultimate release.

Thornburg, 30, made just 16 appearances in 2019 after attempting a comeback from thoracic outlet surgery. He posted an ugly 7.71 ERA, allowing 21 hits and 10 walks in just 18.2 innings.

In all, Thornburg had a 6.54 ERA in 42.2 innings over three seasons with the Red Sox that can be described as nothing less than disastrous. Boston originally traded third baseman Travis Shaw, plus prospects Mauricio Dubon and Josh Pennington, to the Brewers for Thornburg.

The reliever didn’t pitch at all for the Red Sox in 2017 amid shoulder problems, which at one point he tacitly blamed on the Red Sox’ own training program. He never came close to making a positive impact in the following two seasons, and now Dave Dombrowski has finally decided to move on.

Thornburg is emblematic of Dombrowski’s struggle to build even a serviceable bullpen in his time as Red Sox president of baseball operations. Even with Craig Kimbrel as the closer, his struggles in the 2018 playoffs led to the use of starters like Chris Sale and Rick Porcello to close games at times. He also let Joe Kelly go as a free agent, after a dominant World Series.

Sometimes the numbers have been good for the Red Sox’ relievers on paper. But the talent has not been up to par. And in the case of Thornburg, some additions have simply fallen flat on their faces.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at

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