Red Sox shut out in American League Rookie of the Year voting

The Red Sox were totally shut out in American League Rookie of the Year voting on Monday night.

Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena took home American League Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year honors, while Astros right-hander Luis Garcia and Rays infielder Wander Franco finished second and third, respectively.

This was to be expected, as all three of Arozarena, Garcia, and Franco were the three Rookie of the Year finalists selected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America last week.

What was not expected by some, though, was the Red Sox not sniffing a single ballot despite receiving key contributions from three different rookies throughout the 2021 season.

Per the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s website, eight different players received A.L. Rookie of the Year votes from 30 different writers, but none were Red Sox.

Instead, it was Rangers outfielder Adolis Garcia who finished in fourth, Guardians reliever Emmanuel Clase who finished in fifth, Orioles outfielder Ryan Mountcastle who finished in sixth, Rays left-hander Shane McClanahan finishing in seventh, and Blue Jays right-hander Alex Manoah finishing in eighth.

At first glance, one has to wonder how one of Bobby Dalbec, Tanner Houck, or Garrett Whitlock were all unable to crack the list as one of the top eight rookies in the junior circuit this year.

After a slow start to his first full season in the majors, Dalbec wound up slashing .240/.298/.494 on the year to go along with 21 doubles, five triples, 25 home runs, 78 RBIs, 50 runs scored, two stolen bases, 28 walks, and 156 strikeouts over 133 games spanning 453 plate appearances.

Among qualified American League rookie hitters this season, the 26-year-old first baseman ranked third in home runs, third in RBIs, seventh in runs scored, third in isolated power (.254), second in slugging percentage, and 11th in wRC+ (107).

Houck, like Dalbec, debuted for Boston during the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign but exceeded his rookie limits in 2021. Across several stints between Triple-A and the majors this year, the right-hander posted a 3.52 ERA and 2.58 FIP with 87 strikeouts to 21 walks over 18 appearances (13 starts) and 69 innings of work.

Among qualified American League rookie hurlers this season, the 25-year-old ranked fifth in strikeout rate (30.5%), second in FIP, third in xFIP (3.20), and eighth in SIERA (3.28), per FanGraphs.

Whitlock, on the other hand, is perhaps the biggest snub here considering that he underwent Tommy John surgery in July 2019 and came over from the Yankees organization in last December’s Rule 5 Draft.

While expectations were likely low out of the gate for Whitlock, the 25-year-old right-hander proved to be one of — if not the most effective reliever out of Red Sox manager Alex Cora’s bullpen this season.

In 46 outings, Whitlock produced a 1.96 ERA and 2.84 FIP while recording 81 strikeouts and 17 walks across 73 1/3 total innings of relief for Boston. Among qualified A.L. rookie pitchers, he ranked second in ERA, fifth in FIP, fourth in xFIP (3.22), and fourth in SIERA (3.06), per FanGraphs.

Still, despite those three — particularly Whitlock — putting up those kind of numbers in their rookie seasons, none of them received any sort of recognition on Monday, much to the dismay of Red Sox fans.

There is, however, a reason as to why neither Dalbec, Houck, or Whitlock wound up on any ballots. According to the BBWAA’s Voting FAQ page, there are only three spots on members’ ballots when it comes to Rookie of the Year voting as opposed to 10 for Most Valuable Player voting and five for Cy Young voting.

In last year’s American League MVP voting, for instance, 21 different players received votes on account of there being 10 different spots for writers to fill out.

If this were the case in Rookie of the Year voting, it’s likely that someone such as Whitlock would have received some recognition in the form of one or several 4th-10th place votes on Monday.

(Picture of Garrett Whitlock: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

6 Red Sox players, including Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers, selected as finalists for 2021 All-MLB team

Six different Red Sox players were selected as nominees to make Major League Baseball’s 2021 All-MLB team on Wednesday night.

Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Enrique Hernandez, J.D. Martinez, Kyle Schwarber, and Garrett Whitlock represent six of the 103 players with the opportunity to make the league’s third annual All-MLB team.

Of those on the Sox who made the cut, Bogaerts is one of 10 shortstops, Devers is one of seven third baseman, Hernandez and Schwarber are two of 18 outfielders, Martinez is one of five designated hitters, and Whitlock is one of 16 relievers.

With six nominees, the Red Sox have the fourth-highest total in the American League behind only the White Sox (nine finalists), Astros (seven finalists), and Blue Jays (seven finalists).

First introduced in 2019, the purpose of the All-MLB team is to recognize the best players at each position across both the American and National League while also splitting them into a First and Second Team.

Since its inception two years ago, only two Red Sox players have received All-MLB honors, as both Bogaerts and former Boston outfielder Mookie Betts were named to the inaugural first and second teams at the conclusion of the 2019 campaign.

After not having a single player make it last year, the Sox will be well represented this time around. Bogaerts has a strong chance to make his second All-MLB team, while his five teammates (including Schwarber) will be going for their first All-MLB nods, respectively.

Voting for the All-MLB team runs through 5 p.m. eastern time on November 19. Fan voting, which can be done by following this link, accounts for 50% of the vote. The other 50% comes from a panel of experts.

The field of players who were announced as finalists on Wednesday will be whittled down to 32 — or two teams consisting of 16 players each — by the time voting ends next Friday.

Winners will then be announced on MLB Network on the night of Tuesday, Nov. 23. This was previously done during the Winter Meetings, which typically take place in December, but the impending work stoppage must have forced a change of plans.

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox blow late lead in process of falling to Astros, 9-2, in Game 4 of ALCS

The Red Sox were just a few innings away from potentially jumping out to a commanding three-games-to-one-lead over the Astros in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series on Tuesday night … until they weren’t.

After holding on to a 2-1 lead for most of the night, Boston saw things unravel in the eighth inning of what would later go down as a 9-2 loss to Houston at Fenway Park, which means this best-of-seven ALCS is now tied at two games apiece.

Nick Pivetta, making his first start and third overall appearance of the postseason for the Sox, was solid in his championship series debut. The right-hander limited the Astros to just one run while scattering two hits and two walks to go along with three strikeouts over five impressive innings of work.

The lone run Pivetta surrendered to Houston came right away in the top half of the first, when he served up a two-out solo shot over the Green Monster to Alex Bregman that gave the Astros an early 1-0 lead.

Despite that miscue, the Red Sox lineup picked up their starter right away in the bottom half of the frame.

Matched up against Astros veteran right-hander Zack Greinke to begin things on Tuesday, Rafael Devers drew a five-pitch walk with two outs to set the stage for Xander Bogaerts.

After not collecting an RBI in Monday’s 12-3 thumping of Houston, Bogaerts unloaded on a 1-0, 84 mph slider from Greinke and deposited 413 feet into the Boston night and onto Lansdowne Street.

Bogaerts’ third homer of the postseason — a sizzling two-run blast that left his bat at 107.9 mph — allowed the Sox to snatch their first lead of the evening at 2-1.

Given that fresh one-run advantage to work with, Pivetta took full advantage by stringing together four scoreless frames. He had to escape a bit of a jam he created for himself in the second, but followed by sitting down nine of the final 10 batters he faced leading into the middle of the fifth.

Even after the Astros lineup flipped over for a third time in that fifth inning, Pivetta responded by getting the dangerous Jose Altuve to ground out to third base to retire the side and end his night on a positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of just of 65 (36 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler topped out at 96.5 mph with his four-seam fastball — a pitch he turned to 38 times to complement both his slider and knuckle curveball.

In relief of Pivetta, left-hander Josh Taylor got the first call from Red Sox manager Alex Cora out of the Boston bullpen, and he recorded the first two outs of the sixth before yielding a two-out single to Yordan Alvarez.

Adam Ottavino then came on for Taylor to finish the inning, and the veteran reliever did just that by emphatically punching out Carlos Correa on a 96 mph sinker on the outer half of the plate.

From there, Garrett Whitlock put up a zero in the seventh, but ran into some trouble an inning later.

To that point in the contest, the Boston bats had been held in check by Houston pitching. Despite knocking Greinke out after just 1 1/3 innings, the Sox were stymied by the Astros bullpen, though they certainly had their fair share of scoring opportunities.

In the bottom of the second, for instance, the Red Sox had runners at first and second with one out, but neither Enrique Hernandez or Devers were able to come through and instead went down quietly.

Two innings later, Chritian Arroyo ripped a one-out triple off Cristian Javier, but was stranded there after both Kyle Schwarber and Hernandez were retired by the Astros reliever.

With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Bogaerts laced a 106.9 mph double off Javier. He, too, was left there when Alex Verdugo and J.D. Martinez were sat down on a fly out and swinging strikeout, respectively.

Fast forward to the top half of the eighth, and the Astros promptly capitalized on the fact that the Red Sox had gone 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position while leaving eight runners on base as a team up until then.

That being the case because on the very first pitch he saw from Whitlock, Altuve led off the eighth by crushing a game-tying solo home run 400 feet off the National Car Rental sign hovering above the Green Monster.

Altuve’s late-game heroics knotted things up at two runs apiece, and it also paved the way for Nathan Eovaldi to attempt to keep it that way in the ninth.

Having just started Game 2 of this series on Saturday, Eovaldi immediately gave up a leadoff double to Correa that was just out of the reach of Hunter Renfroe in right field. He then struck out Kyle Tucker and intentionally walked Yuli Gurriel to face the pinch-hitting Aledmys Diaz.

Diaz, in turn, fanned on five pitches, bringing Eovaldi to within one out of escaping a sticky situation. Jason Castro, however, had different plans.

Moments after it appeared as though Eovaldi had punched out Castro on a 1-2, 80 mph curveball on the inner half of the plate that was instead called a ball by home plate umpire Laz Diaz, the Astros backstop responded by drilling a go-ahead, run-scoring single through the right side of the infield.

Castro plated Correa on his clutch hit to make it a 3-2 game in favor of Houston, but the Astros were not done there. Not with Altuve drawing a walk that prompted Cora to go get Eovaldi.

With two outs and the bases full of Astros, Michael Brantley greeted the newly-inserted Martin Perez by drilling a three-run, bases-clearing double to the gap in right-center field that increased his side’s advantage to four runs at 6-2.

Perez’s struggles did not end there, as the lefty surrendered three more runs on three more hits before the top of the ninth inning mercifully came to a close with the Astros up, 9-2.

In total, Eovaldi was charged for four runs — all of which were earned — on two hits, two walks, and two strikeouts in 2/3 of an inning. He is slated to start Game 6 of this series in Houston on Friday.

Perez, on the other hand, was charged with three runs (two earned) in a third of an inning.

The Sox somewhat threatened in their half of the ninth, but ultimately went down quietly against Astros closer Ryan Pressly to secure a heart-breaking 9-2 defeat in which they went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left 11 runners on base as a team.

With the loss, the Red Sox have given home-field advantage back to the Astros, as they ensure that they will be heading back to Houston later this week since this ALCS is now tied up at 2-2 and will at least be six games in length.

Next up: Sale vs. Valdez to start off Game 5

The Red Sox will turn to left-hander Chris Sale to start Game 5 at Fenway Park on Wednesday evening, while the Astros will roll with fellow southpaw Framber Valdez.

First pitch from Fenway Park on Wednesday is scheduled for 5:08 p.m. eastern time on FS1.

(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers lead the way with pair of grand slams as Red Sox even ALCS with 9-5 win over Astros

After squandering multiple scoring opportunities in a Game 1 loss to kick off the American League Championship Series on Friday, the Red Sox bounced back in a tremendous way against the Astros in Game 2 on Saturday afternoon.

Boston mashed their way to a 9-5 win over Houston at Minute Maid Park, meaning this best-of-seven ALCS is now tied at one game each as it heads back to Fenway Park.

Matched up against Astros rookie right-hander Luis Garcia to begin things on Saturday, a hungry Sox lineup kicked off the scoring right away in their half of the first inning.

Kyle Schwarber led off with a double, Rafael Devers and Alex Verdugo each drew a walk to fill the bases with two outs, then — following a brief mound visit — J.D. Martinez unloaded the bases on a 1-0, 94 mph fastball from Garcia and crushed it 363 feet over the right field wall.

Martinez’s grand slam, which had an exit velocity of 106 mph, gave Boston an early 4-0 lead, but they were not done there.

That being the case because an inning later, the Red Sox threatened once more after Kevin Plawecki began the top half of the second by drawing a leadoff walk off Garcia.

To that point in the contest, Garcia had struggled with his command, with only 14 of his 33 pitches through one-plus innings going for strikes. As a result, he left the game with right knee discomfort and was replaced by Jake Odorizzi.

Odorizzi, a traditional starter, then went through his regular warmup routine on the field, which took quite a bit of time before he was ready to face Christian Arroyo with no outs and a runner on in the second.

Arroyo, coming off that long layoff, promptly ripped a single to right field before a one-out base hit of the bat of Enrique Hernandez filled the bases for Boston yet again.

Devers then followed in Martinez’s footsteps by clubbing the Sox’ second grand slam of the day, making them the first major-league team to ever hit two grand slams in a single postseason game.

While the long layoff caused by Garcia’s injury played into Boston’s favor on the offensive side of things, it also resulted in Nathan Eovaldi having to wait a while in between innings.

Eovaldi, making his third start of the postseason for the Sox, got his day started against his hometown team by retiring six of the first seven Astros batters he faced. From the time he recorded the final out of the second inning, though, he had to wait a grand total of 41 minutes before throwing his first pitch of the third.

The veteran right-hander had a sizable 8-0 cushion to work with at that point, and that lead only increased after he got through another 1-2-3 frame.

In the top of the fourth, with Odorizzi still on the mound for Houston, a sizzling Hernandez stayed hot at the plate by tattooing yet another home run — a 395-foot solo shot into the Crawford Boxes.

By doing so, Hernandez became the first Red Sox player to ever hit five homers in a five-game span during the postseason. He also gave his side a commanding 9-0 lead.

While Eovaldi had been able to keep the Astros at bay in his first three innings on Saturday, he ran into some two-out trouble in the bottom of the fourth after issuing his first walk of the afternoon to Yordan Alvarez before giving up a hard-hit single to Carlos Correa.

Kyle Tucker then plated Houston’s first run of the contest with an opposite field RBI double, while Yuli Gurriel tacked on two more on a two-run single down the right field line.

That sequence cut Boston’s advantage down to six runs at 9-3, but Eovaldi countered by getting out of the fourth before tossing a scoreless fifth inning that included a visit from a team trainer.

An inning later, Eovaldi got the first out of the sixth on an Alex Bregman groundout before giving up a one-out single to Alvarez — at which point his afternoon came to a close as he got the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora in favor of Adam Ottavino.

Ottavino proceeded to officially close the book on Eovaldi’s outing by stranding the lone runner he inherited while also maneuvering his way around a bit of a jam.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 81 (53 strikes), the 31-year-old hurler (Eovaldi) wound up allowing three runs — all of which were earned — on five hits and one walk to go along with three strikeouts on the afternoon.

Garrett Whitlock took over for Ottavino in a 9-3 game in the seventh, and he worked his way around a one-out walk of Jason Castro with some defensive help from Arroyo, who made a fine play while in the shift to get Michael Brantley at first base for the final out of the inning.

From there, Whitlock rolled on by sitting down the side in order in the eighth, thus paving the way for Darwinzon Hernandez in the ninth.

Hernandez, making his first appearance of the postseason, served up a pair of solo solo home runs to Gurriel and Castro, which trimmed Houston’s deficit down to four runs.

Ryan Brasier was forced to come on for the second straight day in relief of Hernandez. He was able to slam the door on the Astros in order to secure a series-evening 9-5 victory for the Sox.

With the win, the Red Sox even up this series at one game apiece while guaranteeing it will go at least five games. They have also taken homefield advantage away from the Astros for the time being.

Next up: Back to Boston for Games 3, 4, and 5

The Red Sox will board a flight to Boston and enjoy a well-deserved off day on Sunday before resuming the ALCS against the Astros at Fenway Park on Monday night.

Boston has yet to officially name a starter for Monday’s contest, while Houston will go with right-hander Jose Urquidy for Game 3.

First pitch from Fenway Park on Monday is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. eastern time on FS1.

(Picture of: J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Red Sox advance to ALCS on Kiké Hernández’s walk-off sacrifice fly in 6-5 win over Rays in Game 4 of ALDS

The Red Sox punched their ticket to the American League Championship Series for the first time since 2018 by taking care of business against the Rays and capping off a revamped version of Marathon Monday in walk-off fashion.

For the second consecutive night, Boston walked off Tampa Bay to come away with an enthralling 6-5, American League Division Series-clinching victory at Fenway Park. The Sox win the best-of-five series three-games-to-one.

Matched up against Rays rookie left-hander Shane McClanahan to begin things in the third inning, Christian Vazquez — Sunday’s hero — led off with a line-drive single and advanced up to second base when Kyle Schwarber drew a one-out walk.

After Enrique Hernandez flew out to left field to bring McClanahan within one out of getting out of an early jam, Rafael Devers made sure that did not happen, as he took the very first pitch he saw from the lefty and crushed a 404-foot three-run home run over the center field wall.

Devers’ second homer of the series gave the Sox a 3-0 lead, but they were not done there. Not with Xander Bogaerts singling and Alex Verdugo and J.D. Martinez striking for back-to-back run-scoring hits to add on and make it a 5-0 game.

With that sizable of an advantage to work with, Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez was able to settle in nicely and bounce back from his rough outing in the first game of this series.

In Game 4, Rodriguez allowed a total of two runs — both of which were earned — on three hits and zero walks to go along with six strikeouts over five-plus solid innings of work.

The left-hander began his day by taking a perfect game into the fourth inning before yielding a leadoff single to Randy Arozarena. He then got through the remainder of the fourth unscathed, but ran into some trouble an inning later.

On the heels of a leadoff double from Jordan Luplow and a groundout from Yandy Diaz that advanced Luplow up to third base, Rodriguez gave up his first run in the top of the fifth on an RBI groundout off the bat of Austin Meadows.

The Rays threatened once more in the sixth, as they knocked Rodriguez out of the game with a pitch count of 78 (57 strikes) after he surrendered a leadoff double to Kevin Kiermaier.

Tanner Houck got the first call from Red Sox manager Alex Cora in relief of Houck, but the right-hander only endured more difficulties when he served up a two-run home run to fellow rookie Wander Franco.

Franco’s blast trimmed Tampa Bay’s deficit down to two runs at 5-3, and after Josh Taylor tossed a scoreless seventh inning for Boston, they got to Ryan Brasier for even more in their half of the eighth.

Brasier — to put it simply — got rocked in his brief time on the mound Monday. The righty allowed back-to-back doubles to Mike Zunino and Kiermaier to make it a 5-4 contest before the dangerous Arozarena ripped a single to right field to tie things up at five runs apiece.

That sequence resulted in Cora turning to Garrett Whitlock, who put out of the flames of the Rays’ rally by retiring Franco, Brandon Lowe, and Nelson Cruz in order before hurling a 1-2-3 top of the ninth as well.

To that point in the night, the Red Sox lineup had squandered multiple opportunities to add on some insurance runs against a tough Rays bullpen, such as when Bogaerts grounded into an inning-ending double play in the seventh or Renfroe being gunned down at third base for the final out of the eighth.

With that being said, though, the Sox finally broke through against J.P. Feyereisen, and they did so by playing a little bit of small ball in the ninth inning.

After Vazquez led off with a single that just got through the left side of the infield, Christian Arroyo moved him into scoring position by laying down a well-executed sacrifice bunt.

Travis Shaw, pinch-hitting for Bobby Dalbec, advanced Vazquez up to third base on a four-foot infield single to set the stage for Hernandez.

With one out and the potential winning run just 90 feet away from scoring, Hernandez lifted a 300-foot fly ball to left field that was hit plenty deep enough to score the pinch-running Danny Santana from third to send the Red Sox to the ALCS.

Next up: ALCS begins on Friday

While the Red Sox have advanced to their first American League Championship Series in three years, they will have to wait to find out who their opponent will be.

In the other division series, the Astros currently lead the White Sox two-games-to-one, with Game 4 slated to begin on Tuesday afternoon in Chicago after Monday’s contest was postponed due to rain.

Regardless of who comes out on top in that series, though, the Sox will either be traveling to Chicago or Houston for the start of the ALCS on Friday since they are the lowest seed remaining.

(Picture of Enrique Hernandez: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Garrett Whitlock closing out Wild Card Game win for Red Sox a fitting way for Yankees’ season to end

At this time one year ago, Garrett Whitlock was still a member of the Yankees organization.

While still recovering from Tommy John surgery that he underwent the previous July, Whitlock — then a prospect — was left off the Yankees’ 40-man roster as the November 20 deadline to add eligible minor-leaguers came and went.

As a result, Whitlock was to be exposed to the Rule 5 Draft the following month. And despite only having pitched 70 1 /3 innings above the High-A level since being drafted in 2017, the right-hander was scooped up by the Red Sox in said draft on December 10.

Fast forward 10 month later, and Whitlock was presented with the opportunity to end his former team’s 2021 season on the biggest of stages under the bright lights at Fenway Park.

After putting together a fantastic rookie season in which he posted a 1.96 ERA, 2.84 FIP, and strikeout-to-walk ratio of 81-17 over 46 relief appearances spanning 73 1/3 frames of work, Whitlock was called upon in the ninth inning of Tuesday night’s Wild Card Game against the Yankees.

Having just been activated from the 10-day injured list two days prior, the 25-year-old hurler was tasked by Red Sox manager Alex Cora to record the final three outs of the night.

Working with a five-run lead to protect while taking over for Hansel Robles, Whitlock got the first batter he faced in Aaron Judge to ground out to Xander Bogaerts at shortstop.

He then yielded a solo shot to Giancarlo Stanton that cut New York’s deficit to four runs, but bounced back by retiring Joey Gallo and Gleyber Torres in order to put the finishing touches on a 6-2 Wild Card victory for the Red Sox.

In closing things out on just eight pitches (seven strikes) in the top of the ninth, not only did Whitlock send the Sox to the American League Division Series; he eliminated the Yankees from the postseason as well.

For as humble as he is, it’s unlikely Whitlock would say anything about Tuesday’s win meaning more since it sent his former team home packing. Still, as a competitor, there has to be some level of gratification upon successfully dashing the hopes of the organization that essentially gave up on you not too long ago.

(Picture of Garrett Whitlock: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox activate Garrett Whitlock from 10-day injured list ahead of regular season finale against Nationals

Before closing out the regular season against the Nationals at Nationals Park on Sunday, the Red Sox activated right-hander Garrett Whitlock from the 10-day injured list.

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

Whitlock returns from the injured list after initially being sidelined with a right pectoral strain that he sustained exactly two weeks ago Sunday in the seventh inning of an 8-6 win over the Orioles at Fenway Park.

While he was eligible to be activated as early as Thursday, the 25-year-old threw a bullpen session in D.C. on Friday, and that seemed to be the final hurdle he needed to get over before being cleared to return to action.

In 45 appearances out of the Boston bullpen this year, Whitlock has posted a dazzling 1.99 ERA and 2.89 FIP to go along with 79 strikeouts to just 17 walks over 72 1/3 innings pitched.

The Red Sox originally acquired Whitlock from the Yankees in the major-league phase of last winter’s Rule 5 Draft, and he has since proven to be one of — if not the best reliever on the team in his rookie season.

As Boston looks to ensure that they will be hosting the American League Wild Card game with a win over Washington on Sunday, Whitlock will be among those available out of the bullpen behind starter Chris Sale.

Nathan Eovaldi is the only pitcher who will not be available for the Sox on Sunday, as the veteran right-hander is in line to either start said Wild Card Game or a potential tie-breaking Game 163 if that’s what it comes down to.

(Picture of Garrett Whitlock: Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Red Sox injuries: Garrett Whitlock throws bullpen; Josh Taylor has yet to start baseball activities

In his latest step towards making his return from the injured list, Red Sox reliever Garrett Whitlock threw a bullpen session at Nationals Park on Friday afternoon.

Whitlock initially suffered a right pectoral strain during his appearance against the Orioles on September 19. He was placed on the 10-day injured list because of it two days later.

Since that time, the 25-year-old right-hander was able to play catch on a couple of occasions while the Sox were in Baltimore leading up to Friday’s bullpen session.

The plan now, according to Red Sox manager Alex Cora, will be to see how Whitlock feels after the fact before deciding if he will be activated from the IL before the regular season ends on Sunday.

“Obviously we have to wait to see how he feels throughout the day,” Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith) before Friday’s game against the Nationals. “But I do believe he’s going to be OK. Then we’ll decide when to activate him if he’s fine. Maybe tomorrow, Sunday, whatever it is. So we’ll wait and see how he reacts.”

At the time he was placed on the injured list, Whitlock had posted a 1.99 ERA and 2.88 FIP to go along with 79 strikeouts to 17 walks over 45 relief appearances spanning 72 1/3 innings of work.

In Whitlock’s absence, the Boston bullpen has struggled to the tune of a 4.55 ERA over their last eight games and 31 2/3 innings pitched coming into play on Friday, per FanGraphs.

Compounded with Whitlock’s injury is the fact that left-handed reliever Josh Taylor has also been on the IL since September 26 due to a lower back strain.

Taylor was slated to meet the Red Sox in D.C. on Friday for further evaluation after receiving treatment in Boston. The 28-year-old has yet to resume throwing or any sort of baseball activities, however, so it would appear as though his regular season could be over.

“It hasn’t progressed the way we thought,” Cora said in regards to Taylor’s back strain. “Right now, without throwing, we don’t know. We have to be patient and let’s see what happens. As of now, I don’t see it (happening) tomorrow.”

(Picture of Garrett Whitlock: Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Red Sox place Garrett Whitlock on 10-day injured list, recall Ryan Brasier from Triple-A Worcester

The Red Sox have officially placed right-hander Garrett Whitlock on the 10-day injured list with a right pectoral strain. In a corresponding move, fellow reliever Ryan Brasier was recalled from Triple-A Worcester, the club announced earlier Tuesday evening.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) before Tuesday’s series opener against the Mets at Fenway Park that this transaction would be taking place, and it is now offical.

Whitlock initially sustained his pectoral injury in the seventh inning of this past Sunday’s 8-6 comeback victory over the Orioles. After tossing a scoreless frame in the sixth in relief of Nathan Eovaldi, the 25-year-old issued a leadoff walk to Cedric Mullins to begin things in the seventh.

As noted by Cotillo, third baseman Rafael Devers “noticed something was amiss with Whitlock” and motioned to Cora, who visited the mound with a team trainer before eventually removing Whitlock from the game.

After the Red Sox had Monday off, the belief is that Whitlock’s injury is not serious and the righty will only have to miss the minimum 10 days while on the injured list — which means he could be activated as soon as next Friday since his stint on the IL was backdated to September 20.

Originally selected from the Yankees in the major-league phase of last December’s Rule 5 Draft, Whitlock has been absolutely sensational in his rookie season with the Sox.

Across 45 appearances, the 6-foot-5, 225 pound hurler has posted a 1.99 ERA and 2.88 FIP to go along with 79 strikeouts to just 17 walks over 72 1/3 innings of work so far this year.

Brasier, meanwhile, returns to the Red Sox after being optioned to Worcester on Friday.

The 34-year-old initially missed the first five months of the 2021 campaign due to a multitude of injuries — including a left calf strain and concussion — before being activated from the 60-day injured list when rosters expanded from 26 to 28 players at the beginning of September.

While there was much optimism surrounding Brasier’s return to the mound, the veteran right-hander struggled in his first exposure to major-league hitters in nearly a full year, as he allowed a total of five runs (two earned) on nine hits, two walks, and one strikeout over five outings spanning 4 1/3 innings pitched from September 3 through September 13.

Over the weekend, the Sox opted to send Brasier back down to Worcester when both Chris Sale and Matt Barnes were ready to be activated from the COVID-19 related injured list.

Brasier, however, did not appear in a game during his second stint of the season with the WooSox, so he should be well-rested ahead of Boston’s upcoming interleague series against the Mets.

(Picture of Garrett Whitlock: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Nick Pivetta impresses in first start back from bout with COVID-19, but Red Sox drop series finale to White Sox, 2-1, as Garrett Whitlock gives up walk-off home run

Nick Pivetta dazzled in his return to the mound on Sunday, but it was not enough to lift the Red Sox to a series-clinching victory over the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Boston was limited to just four hits and were walked off on by Chicago, 2-1, marking the third straight one-run game between the two clubs and the Sox’ fifth loss in their last seven games.

Pivetta, making his first start since August 30 after being activated from the COVID-19 related injured list on Sunday, appeared to take advantage of the time he had off by putting together his best outing in more than two months.

Over 5 1/3 strong innings of work, the right-hander allowed just one unearned run on three hits and zero walks to go along with five strikeouts on the afternoon.

While he did deal with some traffic on the base paths early on, Pivetta did at one point retire 11 straight batters leading into the middle of the sixth of what was still a scoreless contest.

Chicago’s No. 8 hitter, Cesar Hernandez, led off the inning by reaching base on an Enrique Hernandez throwing error and promptly advanced into scoring position on a successful sacrifice bunt from Seby Zavala.

Luis Robert did not waste any time in scoring Hernandez from third, as the White Sox leadoff man ripped an RBI single to left field to push across the first run of the day.

That sequence marked the end of the line for Pivetta, who got the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora. The 28-year-old hurler finished his outing having thrown 79 pitches (59 strikes) while lowering his ERA on the season to 4.49.

In relief of Pivetta, Adam Ottavino got the first call out of the Boston bullpen, and despite intentionally walking Jose Abreu, he escaped the sixth while stranding the lone runner he inherited.

From there, Darwinzon Hernandez maneuvered his way around a leadoff walk in a scoreless seventh inning before Hansel Robles also walked one in an otherwise clean bottom of the eighth.

To that point, the Red Sox lineup had been held entirety in check by Chicago’s pitching staff, though they did have their opportunities.

After White Sox starter held the Sox to just two singles over five nearly-perfect innings on the hill, Jose Iglesias — who had one of those hits — led off the top of the sixth by drilling a leadoff single off lefty reliever Garrett Crochet.

Representing the potential go-ahead run in an 0-0 game, Iglesias attempted to move up to second when Hernandez lifted a 390-foot fly ball to deep center field, but was instead gunned down at second base by Robert for an 8-4 double play.

The White Sox quickly made the Red Sox pay for that base running blunder with Robert’s go-ahead single off Pivetta, while the Boston bats were unable to get anything else going against Crochet or Jose Ruiz, who recorded the final out of the seventh before tossing a 1-2-3 top of the eighth as well.

Down to their final three outs in the ninth, the Red Sox were matched up against a familiar opponent in former closer Kimbrel, on for the third time in three days going back to Friday night.

Hernandez got the ninth inning started with a bang by lacing a 105.4 mph leadoff double off Kimbrel, and while Kyle Schwarber struck out, both Hunter Renfroe and Rafael Devers drew a pair of walks to load the bases for Alex Verdugo.

Verdugo, as he has done throughout the season, plated Hernandez on a sacrifice fly to left field to bring in the tying run, but Bobby Dalbec punched out on four pitches to get Kimbrel off the hook in what had become a 1-1 game.

Looking to send this one into extras for a second straight day, Garrett Whitlock quickly got the first two outs of the bottom of the ninth by fanning both Eloy Jimenez and Yasmani Grandal.

Whitlock proceeded to get ahead in the count against the next batter he faced in Leury Garcia and was just one more strike away from punching out the side.

On an 0-2, 97.7 mph fastball down the heart of the plate, however, Whitlock served up a 430-foot walk-off home run to Garcia to give the White Sox a 2-1 win while also being hit with his fourth loss of the year.

With the 2-1 defeat, the Red Sox fall to 81-64 on the season and move into a virtual tie with the Blue Jaus for the top American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: On to Seattle

The Red Sox will board a flight from Chicago to Seattle and open up a pivotal three-game series against the Mariners — who are also in the thick of the American League Wild Card race — at T-Mobile Park on Monday night.

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez is slated to get the ball for Boston in the series opener, while rookie right-hander Logan Gilbert is in line to do the same for Seattle.

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

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)