Red Sox Option Dylan Covey to Pawtucket in Order to Make Room on Roster for Chris Mazza

Before making his first career major-league start on Sunday night, right-hander Chris Mazza needed to be added to the Red Sox’ active roster. In order to make that happen, the Sox optioned fellow righty Dylan Covey to the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket prior to Sunday’s contest against the Yankees.

In his second stint with Boston after initially getting recalled from Pawtucket back on August 8, Covey, who just turned 29 on Friday, surrendered three earned runs on five hits, no walks, and two strikeouts over three relief appearances and 4 1/3 total innings pitched.

All three of those runs came in Friday’s loss to the Yankees, as the California native now owns a 7.11 ERA and .692 OPS against through his first four outings as a member of the Red Sox dating back to July 25. He will likely be up with the big-league club again before the end of the 2020 season.

As for Mazza, the 30-year-old will make his second appearance with the Red Sox a little more than two weeks after making his team debut at Yankee Stadium on August 1.

Mazza limited New York to just one hit and two walks while fanning three over 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief in that outing, and he will now get the chance to start a game for the first time as a major-leaguer.

Prior to coming over to the Sox in December, the Bay Area native made 13 starts for the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate in Syracuse last season and posted a 3.77 ERA and .234 batting average against over 74 innings pitched.

That being said, expect Mazza to get anywhere between three to five innings of work in on Sunday depending on how he looks early on. First pitch is scheduled for 7:08 p.m. eastern time on ESPN and WEEI.

Red Sox Rookie Left-Hander Kyle Hart Will Make Second Start of Season Against Phillies on Wednesday

After allowing seven runs (five earned) over two-plus innings in his major-league debut against the Rays on Thursday, Red Sox rookie left-hander Kyle Hart will get another start against the Phillies on Wednesday, manager Ron Roenicke announced earlier Saturday.

Per Roenicke, the reasoning behind this is that the Red Sox “wanted to try to give [Hart] more than just one start” rather than option him back down to the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket.

The 27-year-old southpaw may have struggled for the most part in his first career start against Tampa Bay, but he did show some glimpses of promise, like when he struck out four of the first 11 hitters he faced or recorded five swings-and-misses

As noted by The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier prior to Saturday’s announcement from Roenicke, “No young Red Sox pitcher has made more than one big league start as a first-time call-up since 2015, when Eduardo Rodriguez and Henry Owens made their debuts.”

By naming Hart as Wednesday’s starter, the Red Sox are perhaps trying to five Hart a boost of confidence and reassurance after a shaky debut. Roenicke divulged into this more during his pregame media availability on Saturday.

“It’s hard enough to do well and perform here in the big leagues,” the Sox skipper said. “So I think with Kyle, just go out there again and relax and pitch the way you can. And hopefully we get a good start from him.”

As previously mentioned, Hart allowed seven runs, two of which were unearned, on seven hits (two home runs) and three walks to go along with four strikeouts on Thursday against Tampa Bay. He needed 73 pitches (44 strikes), to get through two-plus innings while retiring six of the 17 hitters he faced.

Facing off against the Phillies at Fenway Park on Wednesday, the former 19th-round pick out of Indiana University will be opposed by a club that entered Saturday with the highest collective wRC+ (142) against left-handed pitching in the National League so far this season, according to FanGraphs.

Red Sox Lineup: Michael Chavis Starts at First Base as Jose Peraza Returns for Second of Four Against Yankees

After allowing more than eight runs in their fifth consecutive game in yet another loss on Friday, the Red Sox will look to bounce back against the first-place Yankees in the Bronx on Saturday.

Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will make his fifth start of the season for Boston, while left-hander James Paxton will be making his fourth start for New York.

The Red Sox are 3-1 in Eovaldi’s starts this year, so this outing comes at a perfect time seeing how Boston is currently riding a five-game losing streak in which they have been outscored 52-25.

Paxton, meanwhile, is coming off his best start of the season in his last time out against the Rays on August 9 in which he yielded three runs, fanned 11, and walked only one batter. The 31-year-old surrendered five runs (three earned) on seven hits in just three innings of work in his first start of the year against the Sox on August 2.

Here’s how the Red Sox will be lining up against Paxton and behind Eovaldi to begin things on Saturday night.

With a left-hander on the mound for New York, Kevin Pillar moves to the leadoff spot for the sixth time this season while Michael Chavis takes over for Mitch Moreland at first base.

Also worth noting, Jose Peraza is back starting at second base and batting out of the nine-hole after taking a 105 mph comebacker off his right knee while pitching in the ninth inning of Thursday’s loss to the Rays.

Among these nine hitters, J.D. Martinez and Jackie Bradley Jr. have seen Paxton the best. The former owns a lifetime OPS of 1.415 with two home runs in 17 career at-bats against the Yankees starter, while the latter owns a lifetime OPS of 1.129 in 15 career at-bats against him.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. eastern time on FOX and WEEI. Red Sox looking for their first victory since Sunday. They are winless in four attempts against the Yankees so far in 2020.

Red Sox’ Alex Verdugo on Crushing First Home Run of Season With New Team: ‘To Finally Be Able to Help Out and Get a Couple Runs for Us, It’s Huge’

Going into Wednesday night, Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo was without a home run or RBI through his first nine games and 30 plate appearances with his new team.

That all changed against Rays left-hander Ryan Yarbrough in the fourth inning of an eventual 5-0 win for Boston at Tropicana Field to close out a seven-game road trip.

After striking out on eight pitches in his first at-bat against the Rays starter, Verdugo come to the plate for a second time with two outs and a runner on first following a Michael Chavis single.

On the second pitch he saw in his second at-bat against Yarbrough, which was nearly identical to the first’s location, the 24-year-old unloaded on an 0-1, 71 mph curveball at the bottom of the zone and deposited it 352 feet to the right field seats for his first home run of 2020 and his first in a Red Sox uniform. It also gave his side an early two-run lead.

“It felt amazing, man,” Verdugo said of his homer during his postgame media availability. “It’s pretty obvious a lot of us are going through it right now trying to find our swings. There’s a lot of new things in baseball, not being able to see the videos until after the games and all that. Usually, the in-game adjustments have been hard. It felt really good to finally be able to stay on one, to stay through it and get one out.”

Per Statcast, Verdugo’s two-run blast had an Expected Batting Average (xBA) of .220, so it wasn’t exactly barreled, per se, but it was still encouraging to see him make relatively hard contact nonetheless. His manager, Ron Roenicke felt that way as well.

“He was pretty happy, I’ll tell you that, when he came to the dugout,” said the Sox skipper. “It was huge. At the time, it was huge. I thought Yarbrough was throwing the ball fantastic and the next thing you know, we’ve got two runs on the board. The players know it, they feel what’s going on. To get that lead, I’m sure Dugie felt pretty good about that.”

Indeed, Verdugo did feel pretty good about getting his first one out of here since coming over from the Dodgers in February. More importantly, he was happy it contributed to a victory.

“I think the biggest thing for me was just to help the team out,” Verdugo said. “It was a tie game, so just to get up there and give us a 2-0 lead, give the pitcher and everybody a little breath. Like, ‘Hey, alright, we’ve got some room to work.’ That was my biggest part. I came here to contribute. I’ve played the game hard and I want to contribute in everything that I do. To finally be able to help out and get a couple runs for us, it’s huge.”

Following Wednesday’s impressive performance, Verdugo is showing why he should be starting more against left-handed starters, especially when the likes of Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr. are mired in slumps.

While with Los Angeles for parts of the previous three seasons, the left-handed hitting Arizona native slashed .306/.333/.452 slash line in 133 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers, earning the reputation of being a “reverse splits” guy.

Thus far with the Red Sox, Verdugo now owns an OPS of 1.009 through his first 16 plate appearances against southpaws this year, again proving that he should be playing more. Even still, the outfielder understands that finding playing time for everyone is no easy task.

“I always mess around with that,” Verdugo said with a smile. “When I’m not in there against a lefty, I’m like, ‘Hey, Ron, just so you know, man, I can hit ‘em.’ I think he knows it, too. I think he also knows when players are pressing. He’s doing his job, he’s doing what he has to do. I take a lot of pride against lefties.”

Also, it’s probably about time Verdugo moves up in the lineup, too. Just a thought.

 

Red Sox Make Series of Roster Moves, Option Chris Mazza and Matt Hall to Pawtucket

As roster sizes across Major League Baseball shrink from 30 to 28 players on Thursday, the Red Sox made a series of moves following Wednesday night’s win over the Rays, optioning right-hander Chris Mazza and left-hander Matt Hall to the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket.

By sending down the two hurlers, the Sox now have 28 players on their active roster, as will be the case for the remainder of the 2020 season. The only difference now being that clubs can carry 29 players on days they will be playing double-headers while taxi-squad capacity for road trips has increased from three players to five.

As for the two pitchers Boston sent down, let’s start with Hall. The 27-year-old southpaw has got off to a tough start with the Sox, allowing eight earned runs over his first two appearances (one start) and 4 2/3 innings pitched this season.

Originally acquired from the Tigers back in January, Hall served as an opener for the Red Sox against the Mets on July 28 and was then used after the opener, Austin Brice in this case, in two innings of relief against the Yankees on August 2. As previously mentioned, the Missouri native did not pitch particularly well in either outing.

Mazza, meanwhile, impressed in his Red Sox debut in New York on August 1, working 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief while scattering one hit, two walks, and three strikeouts in an eventual 5-2 loss at the hands of the Yankees.

The 30-year-old out of the Bay Area was first called up by Boston on July 29 in a transaction that also saw veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy get designated for assignment.

Despite Hall and Mazza both getting demoted, it wouldn’t be a shock to see either hurler back up with the Sox at some point later in the season. For now, they will report to the club’s alternate training site at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket.

Red Sox Top Pitching Prospect Jay Groome Faces Live Hitters at McCoy Stadium

For the first time since being added to the Red Sox’ 60-man player pool last month, Jay Groome, the club’s top left-handed pitching prospect, faced live hitters at McCoy Stadium earlier Tuesday morning.

Getting some work in during a live batting practice session, Groome threw 25-30 pitches and faced the likes of other top prospects in the organization such as Jarren Duran, Jeter Downs, and Connor Wong, as well as Jhonny Pereda, and reached 94 mph with his fastball while also mixing in his curveball and changeup.

There were no umpires and very few fielders around him, but as WEEI’s Rob Bradford puts it, “Tuesday represented a big step forward” for Groome.

Turning 22 years old later this month, the New Jersey native was originally taken by Boston with the 12th overall pick in the 2016 amateur draft out of Barnegat High School and later signed for $3.65 million.

Since that time, though, Groome has only made 20 professional starts across three minor-league levels as he has been hampered with different arm ailments, most recently undergoing Tommy John surgery in May 2018.

Upon recovering from TJS, the 6-foot-6 southpaw was able to make three starts with the Gulf Coast League Red Sox and short-season Lowell Spinners last year, and now, he’s inching closer to appearing in a simulated game in Pawtucket.

Of course, under normal circumstances, Groome would likely be pushing for a promotion to Double-A Portland right about now, but because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the hurler’s development path has certainly been disrupted.

PawSox pitching coach Paul Abbott said as much about Groome when speaking to reporters via Zoom on Tuesday.

“Obviously he needs to log innings,” stated Abbott. “He’s missed some valuable development periods for him to get on the mound and learn how to pitch as you go every step of the way.  Here’s a way how everything is looking, how everything is working so we have a good, solid idea going into spring training next year.”

With that in mind, the plan over the next six weeks is to see how Groome handles facing different levels of hitters so that the Red Sox have a good idea on where he will be at going into spring training next year.

Red Sox Waste Big Offensive Nights From Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers in Soul-Crushing 9-7 Loss to Yankees

In their highest-scoring game since Opening Day, the Red Sox still found a way to lose to the Yankees on Sunday night, as they fell to the Bronx Bombers by a final score of 9-7 and were unable to avoid getting swept by their division rivals.

Utilizing the opener strategy in this one, the Sox first turned to right-hander Austin Brice on Sunday, who was technically making his first career major-league start although he only pitched a scoreless first inning while walking two and striking out the side.

From there, left-hander Matt Hall, who served as an opener for Boston last week, had a tougher time of things from the middle of the second on. That being the case because the 27-year-old served up a three-run blast to Aaron Judge in his first frame of work and back-to-back, two-out RBI doubles to Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela in his second.

Heath Hembree was next up, and after tossing a perfect bottom of the fourth, the veteran righty got taken deep by Luke Voit on a two-out solo shot in the fifth. At the time, Voit’s homer pulled the Yankees back even with the Sox at 6-6.

The Boston offense was able to tack on another run in between Marcus Walden’s two shutout frames of relief in the sixth and seventh, but things took a turn for the worse for the Red Sox bullpen in the bottom of the eighth.

There, Matt Barnes entered with his side up one run at 7-6, got the first two outs of the inning rather easily, and then walked Mike Tauchman, the Yankees’ No. 9 hitter, on five pitches.

As the saying goes, “walks will haunt,” and that walk certainly would come back to haunt Barnes later on.

With New York’s lineup turning back over, Tauchman took off for second base with D.J. LeMahieu at the plate and got to the bag safely. Having to deal with a runner in scoring position now, Barnes couldn’t sneak a 2-2, 96 mph fastball past the Yankees second baseman and instead gave up a game-tying, run-scoring single back up the middle. 7-7.

It would have been one thing if Barnes managed to escape the eighth with the 7-7 stalemate still intact, but the ever-dangerous Judge had other ideas in mind.

Arguably the girthiest No. 2 hitter in baseball, the Yankees slugger took a 2-0, hanging 84 mph curveball from Barnes and deposited it 468(!) feet to the bleachers in left field.

That soul-crushing missile of a two-run home run put the Yanks up 9-7, which would ultimately go on to be Sunday’s final score as Barnes was hit with his first loss and blown save of the season.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against another familiar foe in the form of Yankees southpaw James Paxton.

With the Canadian-born Paxton on the hill, the Boston bats actually got on the board in the first inning for the first time all weekend when after J.D. Martinez reached base on a two-out double that could have been caught, Xander Bogaerts crushed his second big fly of the season 386 feet to right-center field to put his side up two early on.

In the third, more damage off Paxton came when Kevin Pillar led things off with a ground-rule double and came around to score moments later on a Rafael Devers RBI base knock to right.

A Martinez strikeout followed by consecutive one-out, run-scoring singles off the bats of Bogaerts and Christian Vazquez brought in two more runs, and the Red Sox had themselves a 5-3 lead just like that.

Fast forward to the fifth, and Bogaerts struck once more, this time taking Yankees reliever Michael King 437 feet to left-center field for his second dinger of the evening. 6-5 Boston.

And in the seventh, it was Devers’ turn to put his pull-side power on display, as he watched King hang a 2-1, hanging changeup on the inner half of the plate and proceeded to send it all the way to the right field bleachers, or more specifically, 427 feet away from home plate.

Devers’ long-awaited first long ball of the new season looked to be the all-important go-ahead hit in this one as it put the Sox up by one run at 7-6. A las, as previously mentioned, the Yankees staged a rather soul-crushing comeback in their half of the eighth, and 9-7 would go on to be your final score. Red Sox get swept.

Some notes and observations from this loss:

The Red Sox are 3-7 through their first 10 games of 2020.

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Despite the loss, Rafael Devers had an impressive night on both sides of the ball.

10 games into the season, the Red Sox have one of the worst records in baseball. Not great! It’s not a total surprise, but it’s still not great!

Anyway, the Sox have an off day on Monday before opening up a rare two-game set against the Rays in St. Petersburg on Tuesday.

Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi and left-hander Martin Perez are slated to start for Boston, while right-hander Charlie Morton and left-hander Ryan Yarbrough are lined up to do the same for Tampa Bay.

This will be the first of two trips to St. Pete for the Sox this season. They won 60% of their games at Tropicana Field in 2019.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Enjoy the off day.

J.D. Martinez, Mitch Moreland Club Homers as Red Sox Fall to Blue Jays in First of Two Exhibition Games at Fenway Park

For the first time in over four months, the Red Sox played a baseball game against another team on Tuesday, as the club hosted the Blue Jays in the first of two exhibition contests held at a fan-less Fenway Park.

Getting the start for Boston in this one was Ryan Weber, who is lined up to be Boston’s No. 3 starter to open the 2020 season.

Working six innings against Toronto, the right-hander yielded four runs, all of which were earned, on six hits and one walk to go along with six strikeouts on the night.

The first pair of those runs came in the top half of the third, when Weber allowed Danny Jansen and Bo Bichette to reach base before Cavan Biggio and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. drove them in on a sacrifice fly and run-scoring groundout.

Fast forward to the sixth, after Weber had settled into a bit of a rhythm, Rowdy Tellez put a stop to that by clubbing a two-out, two-run homer off the 29-year-old to put any hopes of a quality start to bed.

Still, Weber stuck with it, retired the next hitter he faced in Teoscar Hernandez, and ended his outing on a somewhat more positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 86 (58 strikes), the Florida native threw his sinker and curveball a combined 51 times on Tuesday. He got six swings and misses on those pitches while topping out at 89.1 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw just three times.

As previously mentioned, Weber’s next start should come on Sunday afternoon against the Orioles right back at Fenway.

In relief of Weber, Matt Barnes got the call for the seventh and served up a solo shot to Derek Fisher in an otherwise clean frame, Brandon Workman tossed a perfect eighth, and Ryan Brasier saw a one-run lead for his side turn into a two-run deficit as he surrendered three runs on two hits, one of which being a two-run blast off the bat of Fisher.

By the time Brasier had ended the ninth, the Red Sox were trailing 8-6, which would go on to be Tuesday’s final score.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against top Blue Jays prospect Nate Pearson, who is regarded by MLB Pipeline as the No. 3 pitching prospect in all of baseball.

Xander Bogaerts kicked off the scoring against the 23-year-old right-hander right away in the first inning by ripping an RBI single to center to plate J.D. Martinez from second and Mitch Moreland followed by clobbering a three-run homer over the Red Sox bullpen in right field. Just like that, it was 4-0 Boston.

Later on in the fifth, Andrew Benintendi greeted new Blue Jays hurler Ryan Borucki with a one-out double off the Monster, and Martinez, who had been slugging during Summer Camp workouts, picked up where he left off and tattooed a first-pitch sinker on the inner half of the plate to the opposite field. Vintage stuff right there.

That two-run big fly put Martinez’s side up four runs at 6-2, but as already mentioned, Sox pitching kind of fell apart and 8-6 Blue Jays would go on to be your final.

Some observations from this loss:

I’m blocked by @RedSoxStats on Twitter now, so I won’t be able to put the neat stuff he tweets during and after games on here anymore.

Look at Rafael Devers:

Alex Verdugo has a cannon for a left arm:

It was only an exhibition game, but as you have probably already heard or read, Tuesday’s loss was very reminiscent of a game the 2019 Red Sox would give away. The pitching staff, rotation and bullpen alike, is going to have a lot of pressure on them to perform, especially when the lineup isn’t bringing in a ton of runs.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s *hopefully* the last exhibition game of the year against the Jays.

Left-hander Brian Johnson will get the start for Boston as he looks to compete for a rotation spot, while right-hander Trent Thornton will be doing the same for Toronto.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

 

Red Sox Prospect Jarren Duran Belts Two Doubles, Shows off Speed in Fenway Park Debut

Despite not seeing any live pitching during the pandemic-induced shutdown period, Red Sox prospect Jarren Duran had himself quite the night in the Red Sox’ final intrasquad game of Summer Camp at Fenway Park on Monday.

Making the trek up from Pawtucket along with Jeter Downs and Josh Ockimey, Duran started in center field and hit out of the nine-hole for the Home Sox in Monday’s contest and went 2-for-3 with a pair of hard-hit doubles, the first of which drove in two runs off left-hander Jeffrey Springs in the second inning.

On the defensive side of the ball, Duran was just as impressive, as the Sox’ eighth-ranked prospect put his speed on full display while robbing Marco Hernandez of an extra-base hit off Martin Perez in the top half of the sixth.

That flash of the leather prompted Perez to tell reporters after the game that “[Duran’s] really good, man.”

As for what Duran himself thought about his performance, the 23-year-old led off by saying that it was “just surreal” to play at Fenway Park and that “he couldn’t stop looking around” the ballpark.

“I wasn’t really thinking,” Duran added when speaking to reporters via Zoom. “I missed baseball so much. It was an honor just to be here.”

Before spring training was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March, Duran was opening up eyes around Red Sox camp as it looked like he was going to start the year with Double-A Portland.

Instead, the 2020 minor-league season was eventually cancelled last month, and Duran, like so many other prospects across baseball, lost the chance to continue to hone his craft in actual games.

Still, the southern California did not view that cancellation as a massive road block and instead opted for a more optimistic outlook on things.

“I think it just depends on how bad you want it,” he said. “We have the resources to push ourselves.”

For Duran, those resources were made available at Long Beach State, his alma mater, where he hit during the layoff before the Angels took over the facility for their own workouts.

Because there will be no organized minor-league baseball at all in 2020, Duran will likely spend his second professional season as a member of the Red Sox organization in Pawtucket at the club‘s alternate training site, otherwise known as McCoy Stadium. 

The former Dirtbag was taken by Boston in the seventh round of the 2018 amateur draft and is regarded by FanGraphs as the second-fastest prospect in the Sox’ farm system behind only Gilberto Jimenez.

Like Duran, Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke is also a native of southern California. The Sox skipper liked what he saw from the speedster during spring training earlier in the year, and he certainly liked what he saw from him at Summer Camp on Monday.

“How do you do that?” Roenicke asked rhetorically. “You sit for 3 1/2 months and you come back right where you left off. If he figures it out he’s going to be some kind of player.”

 

 

Red Sox’ Nathan Eovaldi Tosses Six Solid Innings in Final Tune-Up Before Opening Day

In his final tune-up before his first career Opening Day start this coming Friday, Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi put together six solid innings of work in Sunday night’s intrasquad game at Fenway Park.

Over those six frames for the Home Sox, Eovaldi yielded two runs on four hits and two walks to go along with five strikeouts on the evening.

Both of those runs surrendered by the 30-year-old came in the top half of the third, an inning in which Eovaldi served up a solo homer to Cesar Puello and an RBI single to Jackie Bradley Jr. while only being able to record one out before it was called for pitch count purposes.

Other than that shaky frame though, Eovaldi was rather impressive, as he retired nine of the final 10 batters he faced to end his outing on a positive note.

When speaking with reporters via Zoom postgame, Eovaldi said that his third-inning struggles were “a little bit mechanical” and that his splitter and breaking ball were “better towards the end” of his start.

Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke agreed with that sentiment, telling reporters in a separate postgame Zoom call that he thought Eovaldi’s last two innings “were really good.”

In terms of where he is at ahead of the start of the 2020 season, the Houston native added that he’s “excited” to start on Opening Day and he has no recollection of making any sort of other Opening Day start during his high school or minor-league career.

In an ideal world, Eovaldi would likely be the Sox’ No. 3 starter behind left-handers Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez. But, with Sale out for the year while recovering from Tommy John surgery and Rodriguez out for the beginning stages of the season while recovering from COVID-19, the flame-throwing righty has been thrust into the spotlight.

Eovaldi has certainly been the subject of plenty of criticism since he signed a four-year, $68 million deal with Boston two Decembers ago, but he now has the chance to silence some of his doubters starting on Friday night, when he’ll be opposite Orioles left-hander John Means on Opening Day at Fenway Park.

First pitch for that game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN.