Former Red Sox closer Brandon Workman designated for assignment by Cubs

Former Red Sox closer Brandon Workman has been designated for assignment by the Cubs, the club announced Thursday afternoon.

Workman, 32, initially signed a one-year, $1 million deal with Chicago back in February and had the opportunity to earn an additional $2 million in availabele incentives.

In the span of just 10 appearances out of the Cubs’ bullpen, the right-hander surrendered nine runs (six earned) on 12 hits, seven walks, and 11 strikeouts over eight innings of work. That’s good for an ERA of 6.75 and an OPS against of .997.

Prior to signing with Chicago, Workman had spent the 2020 season with both the Red Sox and Phillies.

Opening the year with Boston, the former second-round pick posted a 4.05 ERA over seven outings and 6 2/3 innings pitched before being traded to the Phillies along with fellow reliever Heath Hembree in exchange for right-handers Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold in late August.

Upon arriving in Philadelphia, Workman’s struggles escalated as he yielded 11 runs (10 earned) in just 13 frames prior to hitting free agency in October.

The fact that Workman struggled as much as he did was somewhat baffling considering how dominant he was in his final full season with the Red Sox in 2019.

In 73 appearances out of Boston’s bullpen that year, the Texas native produced a miniscule 1.88 ERA while recording 16 saves to go along 104 strikeouts over 71 2/3 innings pitched.

In 31 appearances since, he has put up a 6.18 ERA and 5.69 FIP over 27 2/3 innings.

Considering that he enjoyed a great deal of success not too long ago, is not making much money this year, and is still just 32 years old, it should be interesting to see if any teams have any interest in Workman while he is up for grabs on waivers. The Cubs will have seven days to either trade, waive, or release the righty in the meantime.

(Picture of Brandon Workman: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Home runs from Kiké Hernández, Alex Verdugo, J.D. Martinez power Red Sox to 11-4 win over White Sox on Patriots’ Day

After being held in check offensively in both games of a doubleheader sweep on Sunday, the Red Sox bounced back in a tremendous way and came away with a four-game series split with the White Sox on Monday following an 11-4 victory to celebrate Patriots’ Day at Fenway Park in style.

Making his fourth start of the season for Boston in this one was Nathan Eovaldi, who was fresh off a solid performance against the Twins in Minnesota last week.

Working against another American League Central foe in the White Sox this time around, the veteran right-hander had yet another impressive day on Monday.

Over 6 1/3 innings of work, Eovaldi yielded four runs (all earned) on nine hits and zero walks to go along with 10 strikeouts on the afternoon to tie a career-high.

The first two of those Chicago runs scored on extra-base hits from Luis Robert and Adam Eaton in the first and third innings. Eaton was also responsible for his side’s third run when he plated Tim Anderson on a two-out, run-scoring double in the fifth.

Eovaldi managed to keep the White Sox off the board for a little while after that, but after allowing two of the first three hitters he faced to reach base in the top of the seventh, his day came to a close with Eaton due to hit next for Chicago.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 100 (75 strikes), the 31-year-old hurler turned to his vaunted four-seam fastball 41 times on Monday, inducing six swings-and-misses while topping out at 100.3 mph with the pitch.

Able to pick up his third winning decision of the season despite raising his ERA to 3.04, Eovaldi’s next start should come against the Mariners at Fenway Park on Saturday.

In relief of Eovaldi, rookie right-hander Garrett Whitlock got the first — and only — call out of the Red Sox bullpen an inherited a situation where there runners on the corners and still two outs to get in the sixth.

Whitlock, in his first appearance since Wednesday, allowed one of those inherited runners to score on an RBI groundout from Eaton — which closed the book on Eovaldi’s outing — but he avoided any further damage by getting Robert to ground out to retire the side.

From there, the 24-year-old continued to dazzle in his debut season with the Sox by fanning two and sitting down the final six hitters he faced in order to preserve the 11-4 victory for his side.

On the other side of things, a reeling Red Sox lineup was matched up against a tough opponent in White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito, who has finished in the top-7 in American League Cy Young voting in each of the last two seasons.

Despite the reputation Giolito carries with him, the 26-year-old struggled mightily in his first outing at Fenway Park in nearly two years.

That being the case because right from the get-go, the Sox put up six runs on seven hits while sending 11 batters to the plate in their half of the first.

Kiké Hernández led things off by crushing his third home run of the season just over the Green Monster to knot things up at 1-1, singles from Alex Verdugo and J.D. Martinez allowed Rafael Devers to drive in a run on a single of his own, and a Christian Vazquez single following a mound visit filled the bases for Marwin Gonzalez.

Gonzalez, one of the heroes of Saturday’s series-opening win, kept the line moving with an RBI single to score Martinez, while Hunter Renfroe drove in Devers on a groundout to third base.

Franchy Cordero followed with a line-drive RBI base hit to left field, which brought in Gonzalez. Just like that, the Red Sox had gone from trailing by a run to leading by five runs at 6-1.

Martinez provided more leadoff power in the bottom of the second, as he clubbed his sixth big fly of the season 398 feet over the Green Monster. 7-1.

A seven-pitch walk to Devers would mark the end of Giolito’s day after just one-plus innings pitched, and Renfroe would drive in the third baseman on a sacrifice fly off new White Sox reliever Zack Burdi. 8-1.

In the third, Verdugo became the third member of the top third of Boston’s starting lineup to go bridge. The 24-year-old took Burdi 417 feet deep to right field for his first Fenway homer of the season.

A one-out single off the bat of Vazquez an inning later would result in another Red Sox run crossing the plate when Cordero ripped a two-out, RBI single off Burdi.

And in the seventh, Martinez put the exclamation point on a 3-for-5 day at the plate by lacing yet another run-scoring base hit off Yermin Merceded — a position player — with two outs in the frame to bring in Hernandez from third.

Martinez’s second RBI knock of the afternoon gave the Red Sox a commanding 11-3 lead, which would go on to be Monday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

The Red Sox are 11-6.

From Red Sox Notes:

Next up for the Red Sox, they will welcome the 7-9 Toronto Blue Jays into town for a brief, two-game series beginning Tuesday night.

Tuesday’s series opener at Fenway will feature an exclusively left-handed starting pitching matchup, with Eduardo Rodriguez getting the starting nod for Boston and veteran southpaw Hyun-Jin Ryu doing the same for Toronto.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Kiké Hernández and Alex Verdugo: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Tanner Houck to start for Red Sox in Game 1 of Sunday’s doubleheader against White Sox

Rookie right-hander Tanner Houck will return to the Red Sox’ starting rotation for Game 1 of Sunday’s doubleheader against the White Sox, manager Alex Cora told reporters following his team’s 7-4 victory over the White Sox on Saturday. Left-hander Martin Perez will start Game 2.

Houck, who is currently at the alternate training site, will more than likely serve as the 27th man on the Sox’ roster for Sunday’s twin bill, meaning he can simply be returned to Worcester after Game 2 with no corresponding roster move needed to be made.

The 24-year-old initially made Boston’s Opening Day roster earlier this month after left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez required a brief stint on the injured list due to elbow inflammation.

Pitching in Rodriguez’s place against the Orioles on April 3, Houck impressed by yielding just three runs (two earned) on six hits and one walk to go along with eight strikeouts over five solid innings of work.

He also allowed one unearned run on one hit and two strikeouts while pitching out of the bullpen in the 11th inning of a game against the Rays three days later.

Since making his big-league debut last September, the former first-round draft pick has posted a 1.17 ERA, a 2.48 FIP, and a 31:10 strikeout-to-walk ratio over five outings — four of which were starts — and 23 total innings pitched.

Despite the success he has enjoyed in the majors to this point, Houck has yet to earn a spot in the Sox’ starting rotation on a regular basis. One thing the team wanted to see him continue to work on in Worcester was the development of his third pitch: a splitter.

“I think Tanner Houck is a capable major league starting pitcher right now, but that doesn’t mean he’s a finished product,” Red Sox chief baseball officer Bloom told The Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato after Houck was first optioned to the alternate site on April 6. “We know his ceiling could be even higher if he gets really comfortable with a third pitch. We know he can get lefties out, executing the fastball and slider the way he has in his big league starts, but if he can get more comfortable with that splitter, he’ll be even better. While he’s in Worcester, it’ll be easier to work on that than it would be while he’s pitching in a close game at the big league level.”

Houck will get the opportunity to show what he has been working on at Polar Park when he makes his return to Fenway Park on Sunday.

And even if he is optioned back down to the alternate site afterwards, the expectation is that the 6-foot-5, 218 pound hurler will be back once again sooner rather than later in the event that the Red Sox need a starter for whatever reason.

“He understands,” Cora said of Houck back on April 7. “Whenever we need him, he’ll be here and he’ll perform.”

(Picture of Tanner Houck: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Marwin González comes through with clutch go-ahead homer as Red Sox come back to defeat White Sox, 7-4, to kick off homestand

Red Sox manager Alex Cora recently described Marwin Gonzalez as a player who “understands what it takes to win ballgames.”

On Saturday, Gonzalez showed why he was worthy of such praise, as he came through with the biggest hit of of the day — a go-ahead home run in the eighth inning — to to help guide Boston to a 7-4 victory over the White Sox at Fenway Park.

Matched up against right-handed reliever Codi Heuer to lead off the bottom of the eighth, Gonzalez, batting from the left side of the plate, took a 1-1, 96 mph sinker at the top of the strike zone and proceeded to crush it 410 feet deep into the Red Sox bullpen in right-center field.

Gonzalez’s first homer as a member of the Red Sox was a huge one, as it put his side up by a run at 4-3 and would wind up being the springboard for a four-run eighth inning.

Another come-from-behind win

The Red Sox came into the weekend already with six comeback victories under their belt, and after being dealt an early two-run deficit in the first of four against the White Sox, that would once again be the case on Saturday.

A pair of sacrifice flies in the third inning from Alex Verdugo and Rafael Devers off White Sox starter Dylan Cease evened things up at two runs a piece for a quite a while.

Fast forward to the sixth, and the bottom of the lineup served as the catalyst for more offensive production.

With reliever Evan Marshall on the mound for Chicago, Kevin Plawecki laced a two-out double to center field, which put a runner in scoring position as Boston’s lineup flipped over back to Enrique Hernandez.

As part of a four-hit showing on Saturday, Hernandez ripped a line-drive single back up the middle to drive in Plawecki from second and put the Sox up 3-2.

Matt Andriese gave up that lead after serving up a leadoff single to Tim Anderson, who stole second base and advanced to third on a Xander Bogaerts missed catch error, and a sacrifice fly to Yoan Moncada in the seventh, but that stalemate would not last long.

As previously mentioned, Gonzalez led off the eighth inning with his first big fly of the season for Boston, which was followed up by singles from Christian Arroyo Hernandez.

Verdugo then drew a two-out walk off new White Sox reliever Jose Ruiz, and J.D. Martinez picked up an RBI by drawing yet another free pass to make it a 5-3 contest.

Bogaerts, who like Hernandez collected four hits on Saturday, more than made up for his prior miscue by roping a two-run, ground-rule double down the right field line.

Bogaerts’ third and fourth RBI of the young season provided insurance and gave the Red Sox a commanding 7-3 advantage.

Pivetta shaky, but remains unbeaten with Red Sox

If you were looking for a crisply-pitched game to watch on Saturday, White Sox-Red Sox probably wasn’t between you.

Nick Pivetta, who made his third start of the season for Boston a day later than he was scheduled to due to Friday’s postponement, gave up two early runs, and managed to go just 3 2/3 innings deep in all. The right-hander allowed four hits and four walks while also striking out three in the process of doing so.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 83 (49 strikes), Pivetta was unable to pick up the winning decision on account of how short his outing was. But the Red Sox are now 5-0 in games the 28-year-old pitches in. His next start should come against the Mariners on Thursday.

In relief of Pivetta, left-hander Josh Taylor came on to record the final out of the fourth inning and did just that by fanning Adam Eaton.

Andriese, Ottavino, and Barnes hold it down

From the beginning of the fifth inning on, Andriese surrendered just one unearned run over three solid frames of work.

Adam Ottavino, meanwhile, put together his best performance with the Red Sox to date in the top half of the eighth. The veteran right-hander, fresh off taking the loss in his last time out against the Twins, struck out Chicago’s 5-6-7 hitters in short order and was just a few pitches shy of an immaculate inning.

Andriese’s and Ottavino’s impressive performances — as well as the Red Sox jumping out to a 7-3 lead — set the stage for Matt Barnes to make his seventh appearance of the season in the ninth.

The 30-year-old flamethrower wound up giving up his first run of the year on a pair of hits, but he still managed to hold on and preserve the 7-4 win for his side.

Some notes from this victory:

The Red Sox are now 10-4. They are 1-0 in their Nike City Connect uniforms.

From Red Sox Notes:

Next up: Split doubleheader on Sunday

Next up for the Red Sox, they will be embarking upon their second doubleheader against another American League Central foe in less than a week on Sunday afternoon.

Tanner Houck and Martin Perez will start Games 1 and 2 for Boston. Chicago has only named a starter for Game 1 at this point, and that responsibility will belong to former Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel.

First pitch for the day cap of Sunday’s twin bill is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. eastern time. The night cap is scheduled to begin at 5:10 p.m. ET. Both games will be broadcast on NESN.

(Picture of Marwin Gonzalez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox set starting rotation for Patriots’ Day weekend series against White Sox

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)

Friday’s Red Sox-White Sox game postponed due to inclement weather, will be made up as part of split doubleheader on Sunday

Friday night’s Red Sox-White Sox game has been postponed due to inclement weather, the team announced Friday afternoon.

Right-handers Nick Pivetta and Dylan Cease were slated to oppose one another in the first of a four-game Patriots’ Day weekend set at Fenway Park on Friday, but that will now have to wait due to “winter-like” conditions.

Instead of playing four games in four days, the Red Sox are now slated to play four games in three days — something they just did in Minnesota — starting on Saturday.

Friday’s contest between Boston and Chicago has been rescheduled to Sunday evening and will be made up as part of a split doubleheader that day.

The first game of Sunday’s twin bill is scheduled to begin at 1:10 p.m. eastern time, as it has been, while the second game will start at approximately 5:10 p.m. ET.

Per’s Christopher Smith, “tickets for Friday’s game will be good for the 5:10 p.m. game” on Sunday and “Fenway Park gates will open 45 minutes before at 4:25 p.m.”

Smith also notes that Pivetta is likely to start on Saturday since the Red Sox have yet to name a starter for the second game of their series against the White Sox.

(Picture of Fenway Park: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

New Podding the Red Sox episode: Looking back on Carlton Fisk signing with the White Sox 40 years later

On this week’s installment of Podding the Red Sox: A Podcast, I briefly look back at a significant moment in Red Sox history that occurred 40 years ago Thursday.

On March 18, 1981, former Red Sox catcher and future Hall of Famer Carlton “Pudge” Fisk signed a five-year, $3 million contract with the White Sox after he was made a free agent over the winter thanks to a clerical issue.

Fisk would go on to accomplish great things in 11 years with the White Sox, leaving many to wonder why the Red Sox weren’t overly interested in bringing the New England native back considering he had become a fan favorite in Boston.

For more information on Fisk’s illustrious career, click here, here, here, and here.

This episode is barely over four minutes long, and I apologize for that. As I am typing this, I am working on getting some guests for next week and beyond, so I’m hopeful that we will not run into this problem again anytime soon.

For now, this latest episode of Podding the Red Sox is available to listen to on iTunes and Spotify, among other platforms.

Thank you for listening and we will see you next time! Please make sure to subscribe and leave a five-star review if you can!

(Picture of Carlton Fisk: Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

New Podding the Red Sox episode: Pitching prospect Zach Bryant joins the show

On this week’s installment of Podding the Red Sox: A Podcast, I am joined by newest Red Sox right-handed pitching prospect Zach Bryant, who the club acquired from the Chicago Cubs last weekend.

Among the topics Zach and I discussed were how he grew up a Red Sox fan despite being born and raised in Florida, how weightlifting helped turn him into a legitimate prospect, how he works out with Orioles outfielder Austin Hays and Rockies first-round draft pick Zac Veen in the offseason, how Driveline Baseball has helped him improve, how he faced off against Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani while at the Driveline facility, what Red sox fans can expect out of him in 2021, and much more!

The episode is available to listen to on iTunes and Spotify, among other platforms.

Thanks to Zach for taking some time out of his busy schedule to have a conversation with me. You can follow him on Twitter by clicking here, and you can follow him on Instagram by clicking here.

Thank you for listening and we will see you next time! Please make sure to subscribe and leave a five-star review if you can!

(Picture of Zach Bryant: Aussiedi Photography)

Red Sox acquire right-handed pitching prospect Zach Bryant from Cubs to complete Josh Osich trade

The Red Sox have acquired right-handed pitching prospect Zach Bryant from the Cubs to complete the trade that sent left-hander Josh Osich to Chicago back in August, the team announced Saturday.

Boston originally dealt Osich to Chicago on August 31 in exchange for a player to be named later. Given six months to complete that deal, the deadline was fast approaching, and we now know Bryant is indeed the PTBNL.

The 22-year-old right-hander was selected by the Cubs in the 15th round of the 2019 amateur draft out of Jacksonville University.

In his debut season as a professional, Bryant — listed at 6-foot-1 and 210 lbs. — posted a 1.27 ERA and 1.17 WHIP over 12 total relief appearances and 21 1/3 innings of work between the rookie-level, Arizona League Cubs and short-season, Northwest League Eugene Emeralds in 2019.

A native of Port Orange, Fla., Bryant initially attended Daytona State College for two years before transferring to Jacksonville for the 2019 season, where he produced a 3.48 ERA over 28 outings and 31 innings pitched.

He also put up a 44:19 strikeout-to-walk ratio while recording 12 saves en route to being named to the All-ASUN second team.

Now a member of the Red Sox organization, Bryant joins the likes of Christian Koss and Nick Sogard as former 2019 draft picks that Boston has acquired via trade this offseason.

(Picture of Zach Bryant: Zach Bryant’s Twitter/@zbry34)

Former Red Sox closer Brandon Workman signs one-year deal with Cubs, per report

Former Red Sox closer Brandon Workman has reportedly reached agreement on a one-year, major-league contract with the Cubs, according to The Athletic’s Patrick Mooney.

Per Mooney, Workman will earn a base salary of $1 million in 2021 with the chance to earn an additional $2 million in performance bonuses.

The 32-year-old right-hander is a little more than four months removed from what can best be described as a tumultuous 2020 season between the Sox and Phillies.

With Boston to begin the year, Workman got off to a so-so start, allowing three earned runs over seven appearances and 6 2/3 innings pitched out of the bullpen before getting dealt to Philadelphia along with Heath Hembree for right-handers Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold.

Upon arriving in Philly, Workman had the chance to re-establish himself as he was about to embark upon free agency, but he instead floundered.

In 14 appearances (13 innings) in a Phillies uniform, the Texas native posted a dismal 6.92 ERA and 1.146 OPS against while blowing three of a possible eight save opportunities to close out the season.

Performing that poorly to end a contract year has to be unsettling to some degree, but Workman still managed to net himself a major-league deal anyway, albeit a short-term one.

It’s likely the Cubs are banking on the former first-round draft pick returning to his 2019 form — in which he produced a 1.88 ERA and struck out 104 hitters in 71 2/3 innings — with a new change of scenery.

Prior to his signing with Chicago, Workman was someone the Red Sox “had at least some interest in a reunion with,” per’s Chris Cotillo.

A reunion between the two sides in 2021 may not be possible anymore, but Cotillo adds that Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have “at least some interest in three free-agent righties — Jeremy Jeffress, Chaz Roe and Ben Heller.”

Earlier this week, the @RedSoxStats Twitter account hinted at the idea that Boston is not yet done making bullpen additions ahead of the start of the 2021 season.

(Picture of Brandon Workman: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)