Connor Seabold scratched from start for Triple-A Worcester in event Red Sox need length in coming days

Red Sox pitching prospect Connor Seabold was slated to make his 10th start of the season for Triple-A Worcester at Polar Park on Saturday afternoon, but was scratched shortly before the start of the WooSox’ game against the Rochester Red Wings.

While not injury-related, Seabold was replaced on the mound by left-hander Kyle Hart, and Red Sox manager Alex Cora explained why that was the case before Saturday’s contest against the Yankees at Fenway Park.

“Obviously, we used some guys yesterday,” Cora said. “Just in case something happens today, he can give us length [in the coming days]. So, just thinking ahead just in case something happens.”

In Friday night’s 8-3 loss to New York, Boston got just 2 2/3 innings from Nathan Eovaldi, who allowed seven runs (all earned) on seven hits, two walks, and zero strikeouts in what was undoubtedly his worst start of the season to date.

Eovaldi’s short outing resulted in Cora turning to his bullpen earlier than expected, though he was able to squeeze 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball out of Hirokazu Sawamura, Matt Barnes, and Martin Perez.

Still, in the event that either Nick Pivetta (Saturday’s starter) or Eduardo Rodriguez (Sunday’s starter) are unable to provide the Sox with length in their respective starts this weekend, that could force the club to look Seabold’s way.

The 25-year-old right-hander is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 12 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking sixth among pitchers in the organization.

Earlier this month, the Red Sox scratched both Seabold and fellow righty Kutter Crawford from their starts with Worcester while navigating through a COVID-19 outbreak at the big-league level.

Crawford wound up making his first career major-league start for Boston in place of Pivetta on September 5, and Seabold did the very same in Chicago six days later.

Over exactly three innings of work against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on Sept. 11, Seabold allowed two earned runs on three hits, two walks, and zero strikeouts on 43 pitches (27 strikes) in what would turn out to be a 9-8 victory for the Red Sox in extra innings.

Per Baseball Savant, the California native threw 27 four-seam fastballs, nine sliders, five changeups, and two curveballs in his big-league debut. He induced two swings-and-misses — one with his fastball and one with his slider.

With Pivetta coming off the COVID-19 related injured list the following day, Seabold was promptly optioned back down to Worcester. He has made one start for the WooSox since then, tossing five scoreless frames to go along with five strikeouts to just one walk against the Syracuse Mets last Saturday.

Taking that point into consideration, the 6-foot-3, 195 pound hurler should be plenty well rested for when his name is called upon next. Whether that comes with Worcester or Boston has yet to be determined.

On that note, though, the WooSox have six games remaining on their schedule while the Red Sox have seven games remaining on their schedule before their respective regular seasons come to a close on Oct. 3.

Seabold, who was originally added to Boston’s 40-man roster last November, would be eligible for the postseason, so there is that to consider as well.

(Picture of Connor Seabold: Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

Red Sox activate Nick Pivetta from COVID-19 related injured list, option Connor Seabold to Triple-A Worcester

Before wrapping up a three-game weekend series against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on Sunday, the Red Sox activated right-hander Nick Pivetta from the COVID-19 related injured list.

In a corresponding move, fellow righty Connor Seabold was optioned to Triple-A Worcester, the club announced earlier Sunday afternoon.

Pivetta will get the start in Sunday’s series finale against the White Sox (first pitch is scheduled for 2:10 p.m. eastern time), as he had been held out of action since last week after testing positive for COVID-19 and being placed on the COVID-related injured list as a result.

Despite the positive test, the 28-year-old is vaccinated against the virus, meaning he did not have to quarantine for the typical 10 days so long as he did not exhibit any symptoms, which turns out to be the case.

Ace left-hander Chris Sale was originally slated to go up against his former team on Sunday, but was scratched from that outing earlier this weekend on account of testing positive for COVID-19 himself.

The Red Sox, in turn, will roll with Pivetta, who will be working on 11 days rest since making his last start against the Rays on August 30.

Through 26 starts in his first full season with Boston, the Canadian-born righty has posted a 4.67 ERA and 4.44 FIP to go along with 151 strikeouts to 62 walks over 135 total innings of work. Sunday will mark his first-ever outing at Guaranteed Rate Field.

With Pivetta getting activated, the Sox optioned Seabold back down to Worcester just hours after he made his major-league debut on Saturday night.

The 25-year-old hurler allowed two earned runs on three hits, two walks, and zero strikeouts in three innings pitched. 43 of the 27 pitches Seabold threw went for strikes, and he also averaged 90.5 mph with his four-seam fastball.

In regards to what the immediate future holds for Seabold, Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith) that the righty is “going to go back to Worcester and he’s going to start down there.”

Seabold, who turns 26 in January, is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 12 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking sixth among pitchers in the organization.

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Travis Shaw delivers with 3-run homer, game-winning hit as Red Sox battle back to defeat White Sox, 9-8, in extras

The Red Sox have seemingly made a habit of blowing sizable leads as of late and nearly let that trend continue against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on Saturday.

After grabbing an early five-run lead, Boston later fell behind by a run in the middle stages of the game, but battled back for a 9-8 win over Chicago in 10 innings.

Connor Seabold, making his major-league debut and first career start for the Sox on Saturday, was the beneficiary of some significant run support.

In just three innings of work, Seabold allowed two runs — both of which were earned — on three hits and two walks to go along with zero strikeouts on the night.

Both runs the right-hander gave up came on one swing of the bat in the bottom of the second, as he yielded a one-out single to Yasmani Grandal before serving up a monstrous two-run shot to Leury Garcia.

The Red Sox fell behind, 2-0, on Seabold’s miscue, but they quickly responded in their half of the third while still matched up against White Sox starter Dylan Cease.

Enrique Hernandez proved to be the catalyst for the rally by ripping a one-out single to center field, then Cease issued two straight walks to Kyle Schwarber and Xander Bogaerts to fill the bases for Rafael Devers, who drew a free pass himself to bring in Hernandez from third for his side’s first run of the evening.

Alex Verdugo kept the train moving by lacing a two-run single to left-center field that brought in Schwarber and Bogaerts, while Bobby Dalbec plated Devers from second on an RBI single of his own.

Travis Shaw, who wasn’t even in Boston’s original starting lineup, promptly ended Cease’s outing by driving in both Verdugo and Dalbec on a towering, 372-foot three-run blast to right field.

Shaw’s ninth home run of the season gave the Sox a commanding 7-2 lead while also knocking Cease out of this game, but the Boston bats were unable to score again in the third despite getting two hits off White Sox reliever Ryan Burr.

Seabold, meanwhile, escaped one final jam in his third and final inning by getting the dangerous Jose Abreu to ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play, thus ending his night with a final pitch count of 43 (27 strikes). The 25-year-old did not factor into Saturday’s decision.

In relief of Seabold got the first call from Red Sox manager Alex Cora out of the Boston bullpen to begin the fourth, and he ran into some trouble when he issued a one-out walk to Grandal.

Richards nearly got Garcia to ground into another inning-ending twin killing, but Devers committed a fielding error by misplaying Garcia’s grounder before failing to field a chopper off the bat of Romy Gonzalez cleanly.

That sequence loaded the bases for the White Sox, and Richards followed suit by walking Brian Goodwin on five pitches to bring in one run before surrendering a bases-clearing, three-run double to Luis Robert with two outs in the inning.

Ryan Brasier took over for Richards after Chicago had trimmed their deficit down to one run at 7-6, but former Red Sox prospect Yoan Moncada knotted things up at seven runs apiece by lacing a game-tying, run-scoring double to left field.

Brasier’s woes rolled on in the fifth, as he got taken deep to right field by Grandal, who gave the White Sox their first lead since the second inning with his 20th big fly of the season.

Fast forward to the eighth, when the Sox were down to their final six outs, former Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel was unable to keep his old team off the scoreboard as he had done the night before.

Christian Vazquez drilled a one-out double to center field off Kimbrel to put the potential tying run in scoring position. The recently called-up Jack Lopez pinch-ran for Vazquez at second base and quickly advanced up to third on a wild pitch.

A sacrifice fly from Hernandez was hit deep enough (357 feet) to center field to allow Lopez to coast in from third, and that tied things up once again at 9-9.

After Liam Hendriks and Garrett Whitlock kept things that way for their respective teams in the ninth inning, this one headed into extras.

There, in the 10th, Verdugo assumed his role as the runner at second base after recording the final out of the previous inning.

A groundout off the bat of Dalbec allowed Verdugo to move up to third, and Shaw brought him in on an 85 mph RBI single off White Sox reliever Mike Wright.

Given a one-run lead to protect going into the latter half of the 10th, Josh Taylor was dispatched to get the three most important outs of the night.

Despite giving up a leadoff single to the first man he faced in Grandal which also put the potential tying run (Eloy Jimenez) at third base, Taylor did just that.

The left-hander punched out Garcia on three straight strikes, fanned the pinch-hitting Joey Mendick, and got Goodwin to ground out to second base to slam the door on the White Sox, preserve the 9-8 victory, and notch the first save of his big-league career.

With the win, the Red Sox improve to 81-63 on the season to maintain their one-game lead over both the Yankees and Blue Jays for the top American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: Pivetta vs. Lynn

The Red Sox will activate right-hander Nick Pivetta from the COVID-19 related injured list and have him make his return to the mound in Sunday’s series finale against the White Sox, who will counter with fellow righty Lance Lynn.

First pitch of Sunday’s rubber match is scheduled for 2:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and TBS.

(Picture of Travis Shaw: Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Nick Pivetta to make return from COVID-19 related injured list in Sunday’s series finale against White Sox

After a nearly two week-long hiatus, Nick Pivetta will make his return to the mound and start for the Red Sox in Sunday’s series finale against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora confirmed that with Connor Seabold making his major-league debut and first career start on Saturday, Pivetta will get the start on Sunday.

Pivetta has been held out of action since the end of August, as he was placed on the COVID-19 related injured list on September 5 before it was revealed that he became the ninth Boston player to test positive for coronavirus two days later.

Despite being vaccinated against the virus, the right-hander still tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced to miss his scheduled start against the Indians last Sunday.

Because he is vaccinated and did not exhibit any symptoms, though, Pivetta did not have to quarantine for 10 days upon receiving his positive results, as he traveled with the Red Sox to Chicago and was seen playing catch in the outfield earlier Saturday afternoon.

While the 28-year-old will be making his first start since August 30 on Sunday, he will be doing so in place of Chris Sale.

Sale was initially lined up to square off against his former team in Sunday’s series finale, but instead tested positive for COVID-19 himself on Thursday and did not travel with the Red Sox to Chicago.

The ace left-hander became the 10th Red Sox player to test positive for the virus and the 13th player the club has had to place on the COVID-19 related injured list since their outbreak began on August 27.

At this point, it is not yet known if Sale is vaccinated against COVID-19 considering he had a bout with the virus back in January. What is known, though, is that the Red Sox will be without the 32-year-old for the time being.

Having said that, Pivetta, again, will get the starting nod in Chicago on Sunday afternoon.

The 6-foot-5, 214 pound righty out of British Columbia owns an ERA of 4.67 ERA and FIP of 4.43 to go along with 151 strikeouts to 62 walks through his first 26 starts (135 innings pitched) of the season.

Pivetta has never pitched at Guaranteed Rate Field before over the course of his five-year major-league career, but he has posted a lifetime 2.70 ERA in three previous appearances (one start) against the White Sox.

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Red Sox call up pitching prospect Connor Seabold for major-league debut Saturday; Brad Peacock returned to Triple-A Worcester

Before taking on the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on Saturday night, the Red Sox recalled right-handed pitching prospect Connor Seabold from Triple-A Worcester.

In a corresponding move, fellow right-hander Brad Peacock was returned to Worcester to make room for Seabold on the active roster, the club announced earlier Saturday afternoon.

Seabold, 25, is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 12 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking sixth among pitchers in the organization.

The right-hander will make his major-league debut and first career start in Saturday’s contest against the White Sox, as he was one of four players who traveled with the Red Sox to Chicago as part of the team’s taxi squad.

Nick Pivetta was originally in line to get the start on Saturday, but has since had to be scratched from that outing on account of testing positive for COVID-19 last week.

That being said, Pivetta will be able to make his return to the mound and start in place of Chris Sale, who also recently tested positive for coronavirus, in the finale of this three-game weekend series on Sunday.

While Pivetta will take over for Sale on Sunday, Seabold will essentially take over for Pivetta on Sunday.

The Red Sox originally acquired Seabold and Pivetta from the Phillies in a trade that sent relievers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree to the Phillies last August.

The 25-year-old was added to Boston’s 40-man roster in November in order to receive protection from the Rule 5 Draft and was also invited to major-league camp earlier this spring, but had the start of his 2021 season pushed back by approximately 2 1/2 months due to right elbow inflammation.

After a brief rehab assignment in the Florida Complex League, Seabold made his debut for Worcester on July 23. He has posted a 3.67 ERA and 4.17 FIP to go along with 44 strikeouts to 13 walks over eight starts spanning 41 2/3 innings of work for the WooSox since then.

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, the California-born righty operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a 91-93 mph fastball that tops out at 95 mph, a deceptive 80-82 mph changeup, and an 83-85 mph slider, per his SoxProspects.com scouting report.

Considering the fact that his most recent start for the WooSox came on September 4, it’s safe to assume that Seabold — who will be wearing the No. 67 — will be plenty stretched out for his big-league debut later Saturday night.

With the addition of Seabold to the major-league roster, the Red Sox returned a veteran in the form of Peacock to Worcester.

Boston picked up the 32-year-old in exchange for cash considerations in a minor trade made with the Indians late last month.

Peacock appeared in two games for the Sox, making his first start for the club in their bout against the Rays on August 31 and being used out of the bullpen exactly one week later.

As he makes his way to Worcester, Peacock will look to provide the Red Sox with experienced starting rotation and bullpen depth for the final few weeks of the regular season.

Prior to getting traded, Peacock put up a 7.68 ERA and 5.16 xFIP in addition to 38 strikeouts and 14 walks over 11 appearances (10 starts) and 34 innings pitched with Triple-A Columbus after signing a minor-league pact with Cleveland in June.

(Picture of Connor Seabold: Katie Morrison/MassLive)

Red Sox pitching prospect Connor Seabold to make major-league debut, first career start against White Sox on Saturday

Red Sox manager Alex Cora has yet to officially name a starter for Saturday night’s game against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field, though he did shed light on who the team is leaning towards rolling with.

Connor Seabold, one of the top pitching prospects in the Red Sox farm system, will indeed get the starting nod for what will be his major-league debut on Saturday.

“Not yet,” Cora said when asked if the Sox had decided on a starter for Saturday following Friday night’s 4-3 loss to the White Sox. “We’re going to talk about it tonight, but there’s a good chance that it might be Seabold.”

Seabold was one of four players (along with Kaleb Ort, Jack Lopez, and Chris Herrmann) from Triple-A Worcester who traveled with the Red Sox to Chicago as part of the club’s taxi squad.

Nick Pivetta was originally in line to get the start for Boston in Saturday’s bout with Chicago, but has since been ruled out on account of testing positive for COVID-19.

While there still remains a chance that Pivetta could start in place of Chris Sale — who was placed on the COVID-19 related injured list on Friday after testing positive for the virus on Thursday — if he is cleared by Major League Baseball to return to action, that would still leave the Red Sox without a starter for Saturday.

This is where Seabold comes into play. The 25-year-old right-hander made his last start for Worcester on September 4, allowing just one hit and three walks while striking out four over six scoreless innings of work against the Rochester Red Wings.

After the start of his 2021 season was pushed back by approximately 2 1/2 months due to right elbow inflammation, Seabold has been impressive in his time with the WooSox, posting a 3.67 ERA and 4.17 FIP to go along with 44 strikeouts to 13 walks over eight starts (41 2/3 innings pitched) dating back to July 23.

Originally acquired from the Phillies alongside Pivetta in exchange for relievers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree last August, Seabold is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 12 prospect in the Red Sox farm system, ranking sixth among pitchers in the organization.

He was added to Boston’s 40-man roster last November in order to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft.

Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, the 6-foot-3, 195 pound hurler primarily operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a 91-93 mph fastball that tops out at 95 mph, a deceptive 80-82 mph changeup, and an 83-85 mph slider.

Seabold, who does not turn 26 until January, would become the 10th different starting pitcher the Red Sox have used this season if he does indeed make his big-league debut this weekend.

The California native would also become the ninth Sox player to make their major-league debut this year, joining the likes of Connor Wong, Jack Lopez, Jarren Duran, and fellow pitchers such as Garrett Whitlock, Hirokazu Sawamura, Raynel Espinal, Kutter Crawford, and Eduard Bazardo.

(Picture of Connor Seabold: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Bobby Dalbec homers once again, but Red Sox fall short, 4-3, in series opener against White Sox

On a night where the two teams directly behind them in the American League Wild Card race both lost, the Red Sox were unable to take advantage of the opportunity in front of them and instead dropped their series opener to the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Boston fell to Chicago by a final score of 4-3 on Friday night, marking their fourth loss in their five games.

Tanner Houck, making his 11th start and 13th overall appearance of the season for the Sox, was quite simply not as sharp as he was in his last time out.

Coming off an outing in which he tossed five scoreless innings where he walked none and struck out seven against the Indians last Saturday, Houck’s command of the strike zone was not as sharp on Friday.

Over just 3 2/3 innings of work, the right-hander surrendered four runs — three of which were earned — on four hits, three walks, and one hit batsman to go along with one strikeout on the night.

After maneuvering his way around a walk in the first and putting up a 1-2-3 second, Houck ran into some trouble in the bottom of the third, where he was just one out — and one pitch — away from escaping a jam with runners at first and second base.

Rather than getting out of the jam, though, Houck served up a 378-foot three-run home run to the vaunted Jose Abreu off a hanging, 0-2 slider on the outer half of the plate.

Houck’s struggles did not end there, as he issued a two-out single to Eloy Jimenez before plunking Yasmani Grandal to put runners at first and second once more, but got out of the inning when Christian Vazquez gunned down Jimenez at second base for the final out.

Still, even after running into an out, the White Sox added on to their three-run lead in the fourth, with Gavin Sheets leading off by reaching first base on a Jose Iglesias fielding error while playing in the shift, moving up to second on a six-pitch walk of Brian Goodwin, and up to third on a Cesar Hernandez groundout.

Once again, Houck was just one out from getting through four full frames, but instead allowed that runner from third to score on an RBI single off the bat of Luis Robert that gave Chicago a 4-0 lead and marked the end of the line for the rookie righty as he got the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 70 (39 strikes), the 25-year-old hurler was ultimately hit with his fourth loss of the year while raising his ERA on the season to 3.54.

In relief of Houck, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez got the first call from Cora out of the Boston bullpen in order to face the switch-hitting Yoan Moncada from the right side of the plate.

Hernandez, in his first appearance since late July after being reinstated from the 10-day injured list on Friday, beaned Moncada to load the bases, but rebounded by getting Abreu to ground out to retire the side.

To that point in the contest, a J.D. Martinez-less Red Sox lineup had been held in check by White Sox All-Star starter Carlos Rodon. Bobby Dalbec, though, had other plans to lead off the top half of the fifth, as he stayed hot by crushing a 414-foot solo shot to deep left field.

Dalbec’s 21st home run of 2021 got the Sox on the board to make it a 3-1 game, but Rodon rallied by sitting down the final three batters he faced while former Red Sox prospect Michael Kopech got the first two outs of the sixth before running into some trouble himself.

Having seen Enrique Hernandez and Kyle Schwarber both punch out ahead of him, Hunter Renfroe changed the tone by drawing a five-pitch walk off Kopech and promptly moved up to second on a hard-hit single off the bat of Xander Bogaerts.

That brought Rafael Devers to the plate representing the tying run, and he — now matched up against left-handed reliever Aaron Bummer — could only manage a sharply-hit, inning-ending groundout that stranded yet another runner in scoring position.

Following scoreless innings of relief from Hernandez (in the fifth) and Michael Feliz (in the sixth), Dalbec again proved to be an offensive catalyst in his side’s half of the seventh.

With Ryan Tepera on the mound for Chicago, Dalbec lifted a leadoff triple just out of the reach of Goodwin in right field and quickly scored on an RBI groundout courtesy of Vazquez.

Danny Santana followed by ripping a single to right field and advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch from Tepera.

Alex Verdugo, coming off the bench to pinch-hit for Jose Iglesias in that spot, brought in Santana from second by lifting a 196-foot run-scoring single to left field.

That cut Boston’s deficit down to one run at 4-3, but they were unable to push across another runner in that particular inning.

After Adam Ottavino danced his way around a leadoff walk in the bottom of the seventh, former Red Sox closer and current White Sox reliever Craig Kimbrel countered by stranding a runner of his own in the top of the eighth.

Ryan Brasier, who took over for Ottavino, put two of the four batters he faced on base, while Josh Taylor came in and plunked Moncada to load the bases with two outs.

Taylor did manage to strand the bases loaded by fanning Abreu to keep it at a one-run game going into the ninth, where the bottom of the Boston lineup would be squaring up against another All-Star in Liam Hendriks.

Vazquez led off the ninth with an infield single and moved up to second on a groundout from Santana.

With the potential tying run in scoring position, Verdugo grounded out sharply to shortstop for the second out of the inning, while Travis Shaw — pinch-hitting for Hernandez — flew out to center field for the third out, meaning 4-3 would go on to be Friday’s final score.

With the loss, the Red Sox fall to 80-63 on the season as their lead over the Yankees for the first American League Wild Card spot remains at one full game.

Next up: Seabold(?) vs. Cease

The Red Sox have yet to officially name a starter for the middle game of this three-game set on Saturday, though it seems likely that that responsibility will fall to right-handed pitching prospect Connor Seabold, who traveled with the club to Chicago as part of their taxi squad.

The White Sox, meanwhile, will turn to fellow right-hander Dylan Cease as they look to secure a series win.

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

(Picture of Bobby Dalbec: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Red Sox ace Chris Sale tests positive for COVID-19, will miss next scheduled start on Sunday

Red Sox ace left-hander Chris Sale has tested positive for COVID-19, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Sale had been in line to make his next scheduled start for the Red Sox in Sunday’s series finale against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field, but that will no longer be the case.

The 32-year-old becomes the 10th Boston player to test positive for COVID-19 since August 27 — exactly two weeks since Friday — and will ultimately become the 12th player the club has had to place on the COVID-19 related injured list since that date.

While Enrique Hernandez, Josh Taylor, and Danny Santana have all been activated recently, the likes of Christian Arroyo, Matt Barnes, Martin Perez, Hirokazu Sawamura, Jarren Duran, Xander Bogaerts, Yairo Munoz, and Nick Pivetta remain sidelined.

Though it appears likely that some of those aforementioned names could re-join the team for their upcoming series with Chicago, Boston’s starting rotation plans for this weekend still remain somewhat disarrayed.

That being the case because Tanner Houck — Friday’s starter — is now the only definitive starting pitcher the Red Sox have named for their next three games, as Pivetta’s next scheduled start would come on Saturday and Sale’s would come on Sunday.

As noted by Cotillo, right-handed pitching prospect Connor Seabold traveled with the Sox to Chicago as part of their taxi squad and is a candidate to start on either Saturday or Sunday. The same can be said for fellow righty Kutter Crawford, who is slated to start for Triple-A Worcester on Friday but could very well be scratched from that outing.

Pivetta, on the other hand, can’t be ruled out for Saturday quite yet since he is vaccinated against COVID-19. If he is asymptomatic and cleared by Major League Baseball to return to the action, the 28-year-old hurler could still start this weekend, per Cotillo.

Sale, who would have been making his sixth start of the year for the Red Sox on Sunday, has posted a 2.52 ERA and 3.92 FIP to go along with 30 strikeouts to six walks through his first five outings (25 innings pitched) of the season since returning from Tommy John surgery last month.

At the moment, it is not yet known if Sale is vaccinated against COVID-19, though he did have a bout with the virus back in January. As Cotillo notes, “players who test positive for the virus have to miss a minimum of 10 days but there have been cases when vaccinated players return earlier than that timeframe.”

(Picture of Chris Sale: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox scratch pitching prospects Kutter Crawford, Connor Seabold from starts with Triple-A Worcester amid club’s COVID-19 issues: ‘We got to be prepared,’ Alex Cora says

Two of the top pitching prospects in the Red Sox farm system have each been scratched from their respective starts for Triple-A Worcester within the last two days.

Kutter Crawford had been slated to make his sixth start of the season for Worcester in their contest against the Rochester Red Wings on Thursday night, while Connor Seabold was in line to do make his eighth start on Friday.

Instead, the pair of right-handers have been pulled aside as somewhat of a contingency plan in the event that a shorthanded Red Sox team finds themselves in need of more pitching depth if additional COVID-19-related issues arise.

Since last Friday, Boston has placed four pitchers on the COVID-19 related injured list, as Matt Barnes, Martin Perez, and Hirokazu Sawamura have all recently tested positive for the virus while Josh Taylor was identified as a close contact.

Because of all those hurlers being sidelined at the moment, the Sox have had to call up the likes of Raynel Espinal, Stephen Gonsalves, John Schreiber, and Brad Peacock — who was recently acquired from the Indians for cash considerations — within the last week in order to stabilize its starting rotation and bullpen depth.

That being said, the reinforcements from the minor-league side may not stop there, as both Crawford and Seabold have essentially been put on standby for the time being.

“We got to be prepared,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Friday when asked about the reasoning behind the two prospects being scratched from their starts. “We got to be prepared. Yes.”

Crawford, 25, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 22 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking 11th among pitchers in the organization.

The former 16th-round draft selection out of Florida Gulf Coast University initially began the 2021 season at Double-A Portland, but earned a promotion to Worcester in late July.

Since that time, Crawford has posted a 5.52 ERA and 3.80 xFIP to go along with 39 strikeouts to eight walks over six appearances (five starts) and 29 1/3 innings of work for the WooSox.

Seabold, on the other hand, is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 12 prospect in Boston’s farm system, placing 10 spots above Crawford.

Unlike Crawford, the 25-year-old righty is on the Red Sox’ 40-man roster after being added to it last November in order to receive protection from the Rule 5 Draft.

One of two right-handers (the other being Nick Pivetta) the Sox acquired from the Phillies in exchange for relievers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree last August, Seabold missed the first several weeks of the 2021 campaign due to elbow inflammation.

After rehabbing in the Florida Complex League debut for a spell, the former third-round draft pick out of Cal State Fullerton made his highly-anticipated WooSox debut on July 23.

In seven starts with Worcester, Seabold has pitched to the tune of a 4.29 ERA and 4.62 xFIP while striking out 26.5% of the batters he has faced and walking just 6.6% of them over 35 2/3 innings pitched.

Between the two of them, Seabold has more experience as a reliever, though five of his six career relief appearances in the minors came in 2017.

Earlier this week, Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith) that the club has not discussed promoting Seabold to use him as a multi-inning reliever, though they have been impressed with what he’s done with Worcester.

“We have talked about him,” Cora said on Wednesday. “We know he’s very talented. He’s throwing the ball well. I do believe that September is going to be very interesting as far as like maneuvering our roster and trying to maximize our roster. It’s only two more spots. It’s not a few years ago when you could go up to 40.

As noted by Smith, major-league rosters now expand from 26 to 28 players at the beginning of September — not all the way up to 40 as they did previously.

“He’s throwing the ball well,” added Cora. “We know that probably he can contribute. How? We’ll talk about it and when/if we need him. But as of now, he’s still down there (in Worcester). He’s still getting better. And we’re very happy that he’s performing the way he’s performing.”

(Picture of Kutter Crawford: Katie Morrison/MassLive)

Red Sox pitching prospect Connor Seabold dominates for Triple-A Worcester on one-year anniversary of trade from Phillies

August 21 continues to be a memorable date for Red Sox pitching prospect Connor Seabold.

At this time one year ago, Seabold — then a member of the Phillies organization — was traded to the Red Sox alongside fellow right-hander Nick Pivetta in exchange for relievers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree.

365 days later, and Seabold’s name is in the headlines once more, though it has to do with what he did on the mound for Triple-A Worcester this time around.

Making his sixth start of the season for the WooSox in Saturday’s contest against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Yankees affiliate), the young right-hander put together quite the outing in front of 7,432 spectators at Polar Park.

Over seven quality innings of work, Seabold kept the RailRiders off the scoreboard while yielding just one hit and one walk to go along with nine strikeouts on the afternoon.

After retiring the first five batters he faced in order, Seabold issued a two-out walk to Socrates Brito in the top half of the second. He followed that up by getting Kyle Holder to line out to first base for the final out of the inning before truly settling in.

That being the case because from the beginning of the third inning on, Seabold did not allow a single hitter to reach base as he took a no-hitter into the top of the seventh before giving up a one-out single to Donny Sands.

Seabold was, however, able to induce a ground ball off the bat of Trey Amburgey to set up an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play, thus ending his outing on a more positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 87 (61 strikes), the 25-year-old hurler wrapped up his day having induced 11 total swings-and-misses in the process of picking up his very first win of the year to improve to 1-3. He also lowered his ERA on the season down to 3.73 in what would go down as a 2-0 victory for the WooSox.

“I’m going to be honest, I’m fighting a cold right now,” Seabold, who sat around 90-93 mph with his fastball, told MassLive.com’s Katie Morrison. “That wasn’t fun for the first few innings, but then it got fun once the adrenaline kicked in. I was sweating like a dog out there. A couple of times when I threw it, I saw beads of sweat coming off. But outside of that, I felt pretty good.”

Seabold, who does not turn 26 until January, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 12 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking sixth among pitchers in the organization.

After coming over to the Red Sox in that trade with the Phillies last summer and being added to the Sox’ 40-man roster in November, the former third-round draft pick out of Cal State Fullerton opened the 2021 minor-league season on the injured list.

Right elbow inflammation sidelined Seabold for approximately 2 1/2 months, but he was able to make his return to the mound for the Florida Complex League Red Sox on July 12 before doing the same for the WooSox on July 23.

In addition to posting a 3.73 ERA through his first six starts of the year for Worcester, the 6-foot-3, 195 pound righty has also held opposing hitters to a .209 batting average against while putting up a WHIP of 1.02 over 31 1/3 total innings pitched.

Because he is fully healthy and pitching at a high level (2.35 ERA in the month of August), Seabold may be a name to keep an eye on when it comes time for major-league rosters to expand from 26 to 28 players at the start of September.

This is not to say a promotion this season is imminent, but if the occasion were to arise where the Red Sox needed a spot start or multiple innings out of the bullpen at some point in September, calling up Seabold would seem sensible considering the fact that he is already on the 40-man roster.

In the meantime, though, Seabold — who operates with a 91-93 mph fastball that tops out at 95 mph, a deceptive 80-82 mph changeup, and an 83-85 mph slider according to his SoxProspects.com scouting report — should be in line to make his next start for the WooSox during their upcoming series against the Buffalo Bisons at Sahlen Field.

(Picture of Connor Seabold: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)