Even after Friday’s game was postponed due to “winter-like conditions” in Boston, the Red Sox still (kind of) set their starting rotation for their Patriots’ Day weekend series against the White Sox at Fenway Park.
Coming off a week in which they used four starters in the span of three days in Minnesota, the Red Sox pitching staff — and Alex Cora — will once again be put to the test beginning on Saturday for the first of four against the South Siders.
Game 1 (Saturday)
In Game 1 of the series on Saturday, it will be right-hander Nick Pivetta making his third start of the season for Boston. He will be opposed by fellow righty Dylan Cease for Chicago.
The Red Sox have yet to lose a game Pivetta has started since the 28-year-old was called up from the alternate training site last September.
This season alone, Pivetta boasts a 2-0 record and 3.27 through his first two turns through Boston’s rotation, though he has also walked seven and struck out 11 over 11 total innings of work thus far.
Pivetta will be making his first career start against the White Sox come Saturday afternoon. The former Phillies hurler has made two career relief appearances against Chicago and has allowed one unearned run over three total innings pitched in those outings.
Cease, meanwhile, was reinstated from the COVID-19 related injured list on Friday after just a two-day absence.
The 25-year-old out of Georgia has only gone 4 2/3 innings deep in each of his first two starts of the season, yielding a total of four runs on nine hits, six walks, and nine strikeouts in the process of doing so. He will be making his first career start against the Red Sox on Saturday.
Games 2 & 3 (Sunday)
Things start to get a little complicated for Sunday’s split doubleheader. Game 1 of the twin bill will start at 1:10 p.m. eastern time as it was scheduled to, while Game 2 — the makeup of Friday’s postponed contest — will start at approximately 5:10 p.m. ET. Both games will be seven innings long.
Left-hander Martin Perez is slated to get the starting nod in Game 2 for the Red Sox, and fellow lefty Dallas Keuchel will be starting one of the two games for the White Sox, though which game will be his has yet to be determined.
Outside of that, the expectation seems to be that Tanner Houck will be recalled from the alternate training site in Worcester to make his second start of the season on Sunday afternoon.
The rookie right-hander thoroughly impressed in his first start of the year back on April 3, striking out eight Orioles over five solid innings in which he gave up three runs (two earned) on six hits and one walk. He also was charged with an unearned run while pitching in relief in the 11th inning of an April 6 game against the Rays.
Houck, who turns 25 in June, was optioned to the alternate site last Tuesday, which — as noted by the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier — would mean the soonest he could be called up again would be this Saturday.
Had Friday’s game against the White Sox gone on as planned, that likely would have been the case since the Red Sox would have needed a starter for Saturday. But with Friday’s contest being pushed back to Sunday, and Sunday becoming a doubleheader day as a result, Boston can just recall Houck as the 27th man for the twin bill and send him back down to the alternate site at the conclusion of the second game.
Game 4 (Monday)
Monday is Patriots’ Day, meaning first pitch for the Red Sox’ series finale against the White Sox is scheduled for 11:10 a.m. eastern time.
Nathan Eovaldi will be getting the ball for Boston to close out the four-game set, and he will be matched up against a talented opponent in right-hander Lucas Giolito for Chicago.
Eovaldi, who joined teammate Chris Sale in getting some work in at snowy Fenway Park on Friday, has been solid through his first three starts of the 2021 campaign.
Coming into the weekend, the 31-year-old righty carries with him a 2.08 ERA and .503 OPS against as he is fresh off tossing five innings of two-run ball against the Twins on Wednesday.
For his career, Eovaldi has made just three appearances (two starts) against the White Sox. In those three outings, the Houston-area native has posted a 5.59 ERA over 9 2/3 total innings pitched.
Giolito, meanwhile, is just a few days removed from his best start of the young season to this point.
The 26-year-old, who finished in the top-seven in American League Cy Young voting in each of the last two seasons, put together seven shutout frames against the Indians while scattering all of three hits and two walks to go along with eight strikeouts in a game his side somehow lost.
Giolito, a product of the baseball factory that is Harvard-Westlake High School, has made just one prior start at Fenway Park.
In that one start, which came back on June 24, 2019, the Southern California native surrendered three runs on six hits, four walks, and seven strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings pitched.
(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)