It had been well over a year, or 434 days to be more exact, since Nick Pivetta started a major-league game. In that July 17, 2019 contest against the Dodgers, the then-Phillies right-hander surrendered one earned run on no hits and four walks in just 2 1/3 innings of work, but was promptly demoted to the Philadelphia bullpen from that point forward.
Fast forward to Tuesday night and Pivetta, now a member of the Red Sox, got the chance to start in the majors once again against the Orioles at Fenway Park. The 27-year-old took full advantage of this opportunity, as he held Baltimore to one run on four hits and three walks to go along with eight punchouts over five strong innings of work.
That effort eventually netted Pivetta his first win of the year, and the native of British Columbia seemed quite pleased with the way things went in his Red Sox debut when speaking with reporters via Zoom postgame.
“Honestly, I’m just really grateful for this opportunity. It’s been over a year since I’ve been able to start in the big-leagues,” Pivetta said. “To be able to go out there, put up five pretty good innings, I was very elated.”
As elated as Pivetta may have been by the time his outing came to an end, how his evening began was rather shaky with three of the first five Orioles he faced reaching base on two walks and a single, resulting in that lone run crossing the plate on a D.J. Stewart RBI base knock.
With two outs in the top half of the first and runners on first and second, Pivetta found himself in a predicament where his goal was to limit the damage. He did just that by fanning Pedro Severino on four pitches, with the last strike coming on a nasty, swing-inducing 87 mph slider at the bottom of the zone. That proved to be a significant confidence booster for the righty.
“I would have liked to limit that damage a little bit more with some better fastball command,” said Pivetta. “But, getting out of that and moving into [cruise control] after that, getting my legs underneath me, get my confidence back, just relax and have some fun out there. I think that’s the biggest thing. When you get that first inning out of the way, you kind of just move into it and just go out there and compete.”
By the time he had recorded the final out of the fifth, Pivetta’s pitch count had reached 96. Out of those 96 pitches, the former Nationals prospect relied on his fastball 51% of the time, his slider 23% of the time, his curveball 21 % of the time, and his changeup 5% of the time. Relying on a healthy mix of these four pitches is something Pivetta worked to improve upon while in Pawtucket.
“Getting back as a starter, building back up, getting better command with all four of my pitches,” Pivetta continued. “That’s the pitcher that I am. You can’t go out there with two pitches, so being able to have a solid mix of four pitches, which I showcased tonight pretty well, that’s what we’ve been working on and it paid off tonight.”
Speaking of showcasing himself, Pivetta will get the starting nod in the Red Sox’ season finale against the Braves in Atlanta this coming Sunday. Two starts is obviously a small sample size, but that is no reason to believe that the 6-foot-5 hurler won’t be giving it everything he’s got as he heads towards the offseason.
“I think it’s huge,” he said. “I’m given two opportunities to showcase myself and do the best I possibly can. I’m looking forward to every opportunity I have and just moving on from that.”
Pivetta has made seven prior starts against the Braves at Truist Park. In those outings, he owns a lifetime 4.10 ERA and .731 OPS against over 37 1/3 total innings pitched. Sunday’s start in Atlanta will of course be Pivetta’s first outside of the Phillies organization.