Red Sox ‘have inquired on’ free-agent outfielder Jake Marisnick, per report

The Red Sox might not be considered favorites to land George Springer at this point, but there is another former Astros outfielder the club could pursue in free agency.

That particular outfielder’s name? Jake Marisnick.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Sox are looking at a number of outfield options in the event that they are unable to re-sign Jackie Bradley Jr., who they are “still in on” as of this moment.

“If the Red Sox aren’t able to bring back Bradley Jr., they’ll start considering other options,” Cotillo wrote Friday. “One name they’ve inquired on — at least primarily — is Jake Marisnick.”

Marisnick, who turns 30 in March, was limited to just 16 games with the Mets this past season due to issues related to both his left and right hamstrings.

Over that small sample size, the California native was impressive, going 11-for-33 at the plate (.333) to go along with two home runs, three doubles, and five RBI. He declared for free agency in late October.

Prior to getting traded to the Mets from the Astros in December 2019, Marisnick was somewhat of a mainstay in the Houston outfield more so for what he could do with the glove in his hand as opposed to the bat, with the majority of his playing time coming in center.

From the start of the 2015 season until the end of the 2019 season, the 6-foot-4, 220 lb. outfielder played a total of 3,676 2/3 innings in the outfield for Houston.

While doing so, he posted a positive-53 defensive runs saved as well as an ultimate zone rating (UZR) of 19.7, per FanGraphs.

Marisnick’s best year defensively might have come in 2016, but Baseball Savant does not go that far back with its outs above average (OAA) leaderboards.

Going back to 2019 though, the former third-round draft pick was worth eight outs above average, placing ninth among qualified major-league centerfielders that year, per Statcast.

In summary, Marisnick may be approaching 30, but he still has the makings to be a quality defensive center field option for whichever club he signs with.

In the Red Sox’ case, the ex-Astro may serve as a solid replacement for Bradley Jr. if the Gold Glover were to sign with another team in the coming weeks. He’s another free-agent who has a connection to Alex Cora (former bench coach in Houston as well.”

On top of his ability to potentially fill the hypothetical void left by Bradley Jr., Marisnick would presumably command a shorter-term deal on the open market, meaning he could serve as a bridge of sorts for Boston as Jarren Duran inches closer to the majors.

Duran, currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the organization’s top outfield prospect, is projected to start 2021 with Triple-A Worcester and could very well make his big-league debut for the Sox later on in the summer.

FanGraphs‘ Eric Longenhagen wrote last week that “Duran’s instincts in center field are still not good (though they’ve improved), and he relies on his speed to make up for what he lacks in off-the-bat feel and anticipation,” but it’s clear that the organization has high hopes for the 24-year-old.

That being said, under the assumption that Bradley Jr. does not return, Marisnick could be brought in to patrol center field to start the 2021 season. And if the timing is right, Duran could be called up to learn the ropes at the major-league level sometime in July, August, or even September.

This, of course, all depends on what Chaim Bloom and Co. have in mind for the puzzle that is the Red Sox outfield picture moving forward.

Boston’s chief baseball officer said back in November that he believes all three of Andrew Benintendi, Alex Verdugo, and Hunter Renfroe could play center field if needed, but he would not be opposed to adding another outfielder, either.

“I think we have guys on this club who are capable of playing center field,” Bloom said during a Zoom call with reporters. “But we certainly would like to be in as strong of a defensive position as you can. We know we play in a ballpark where you basically have two center fields here in Fenway Park. So we want to be mindful of that.

“We’d certainly like to have as strong of a defensive outfield as possible,” he added. “And a lot of that is contingent on having multiple guys who can play center field.”

Bringing on someone as capable of playing center field as Marisnick would certainly seem to fit the mantra of “having multiple guys” who can play that position when asked to.

(Picture of Jake Marisnick: Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Might Red Sox consider adding George Springer if free-agent outfielder remains unsigned going into spring training?

Alongside the likes of Trevor Bauer and J.T. Realmuto, outfielder George Springer remains one of the top free-agents still on the market.

The 31-year-old is coming off a 2020 season with the Astros in which he posted a .265/.359/.540 slash to go along with 14 home runs and 32 RBI over 51 games played, which was enough to finish 13th in American League MVP voting.

While there have not been too many definitive rumblings as to where Springer could land this offseason, it is apparent that the Blue Jays and the Mets are pursuing the three-time All-Star the hardest.

That being the case because according to The Athletic’s Jayson Stark, “indications are [Toronto’s] No. 1 free-agent priority is still center fielder George Springer.”

MLB Network’s Jon Paul Morosi, meanwhile, notes that Springer “has drawn the most significant interest from the Blue Jays and Mets” and “the 31-year-old is said to have a preference to play near his home state of Connecticut.”

Given that reported preference, Springer — a UCONN product — would seem more likely to lean towards signing with the Mets, although New York might be limited in what they can do now in order to stay under the $210 million luxury tax threshold.

As SNY’s Andy Martino wrote on Friday, “Once the Mets traded for Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco last week, their pursuit of Springer downshifted significantly, according to people involved in the talks.”

Martino also reports that Springer, who does not turn 32 until September, has a five-year deal on the table from the Blue Jays worth anywhere from $115 million to $125 million.

Assuming what has already been reported is true, it does not seem like the two-time Silver Slugger will remain on the open market for too much longer.

That being said, the possibility still remains that Springer could remain unsigned going into the start of spring training, as has been the case with past coveted free-agents such as Bryce Harper and Manny Machado in 2019.

In that scenario, it might not be too crazy for a team that has not been seriously linked to the right-handed hitting, 6-foot-3, 221 lb. outfielder to this point, like the Red Sox for instance, to explore a potential deal there.

Of course, any team outside of the Astros that signs Springer would have to forfeit a second-round draft pick as well as $500,000 in international signing bonus pool money due to the fact that Houston extended a qualifying offer, which was later rejected, to its former first-round draft pick in November.

Even with that caveat in mind, though, the Sox could at least consider negotiating with Springer if he is still a free agent come mid to late-February.

MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo discussed that possibility with MLB.com’s Ian Browne and The Boston Sports Journal’s Sean McAdam on the latest installment of the Fenway Rundown podcast.

“I think if the bottom falls out of this George Springer market, and he is unsigned into spring training, which it feels like the Mets aren’t going there, the Blue Jays are a lot of talk and not a lot of action like another team we know… If the bottom really falls out of that, I think [the Red Sox] will legitimately consider whether it’s worth giving up a second-round pick for him. He might be the one exception to that rule there,” Cotillo said.

“He has the talent of somebody you would give up a second-round pick for. That would justify cheaping out on some of these other guys if they go out and get George Springer,” Browne added.

“He solves a ton of problems. He gives you an above-average defender in center — I don’t think he’s equal to [Jackie Bradley Jr.] but he’s good — but more importantly…he’s a terrific leadoff option. So you don’t have to worry about, in the event that [Andrew] Benintendi somehow stayed, putting [Benintendi] there since he’s not crazy about it. [Alex] Verdugo, I think, has made it well known that while he’ll do it, he’d prefer to hit lower. So it takes care of your leadoff guy.

“And as we know, Springer has shown himself to be a fabulous October player. He’s had a ton of experience on the big stage with Houston the last four years. So, presumably, if someone can do that in the big moment in October, then playing in Boston with expectations would not be anything that would rattle him. Of course, he’s got a New England background having gone to UCONN,” said McAdam.

“And Alex Cora. There are some damaged relationships from all the fallout of the Astros’ scandal. That’s not one of them. Alex has said that he communicates with Springer pretty frequently, so that won’t be an issue,” concluded Cotillo.

So, even though Queens may be slightly closer to New Britain, Conn. — Springer’s hometown — than Boston, it’s probably fair to say that the Red Sox, with chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom at the helm, cannot be ruled out of the Springer sweepstakes at this point in time.

If push were to come to shove within the next few weeks, then perhaps former UCONN right-hander turned Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes, who was teammates with Springer on the Huskies baseball team from 2009-2011, would be willing to do some recruiting as well.

(Picture of George Springer: Rob Tringali/SportsChrome/Getty Images)

New Mets star Francisco Lindor grew up watching Red Sox ‘a lot’ in Puerto Rico; Could Boston be in play for shortstop’s services next winter?

Growing up in Puerto Rico, new Mets star shortstop Francisco Lindor did not have too many options when it came to watching specific Major League Baseball teams on television.

Star players from the island — such as Roberto Alomar and Carlos Delgado –took precedence, but among the 30 major-league clubs out there, Lindor’s options were really whittled down to just a handful of teams: the Braves, Dodgers, Yankees, Mets, Marlins, and last but not least, the Red Sox.

Surrounded by fans infatuated with the Bronx Bombers, the young Lindor opted to follow their biggest rivals at the time in the Red Sox.

“In Puerto Rico, back in the day, they weren’t showing every team,” the27-year-old explained on SNY following his introductory press conference earlier Monday. “They were showing the Atlanta Braves, they would show the Dodgers, they would show the Yankees, Boston, the Marlins when they had Ivan Rodriguez, the Mets when they started getting players from Puerto Rico.

“So, Boston was a team that I watched a lot,” he continued. “Because everybody was [for the] Yankees in Puerto Rico, so it was like ‘All right, I got to pick something to have the rebuttal. So, that was one of the teams that I watched.”

In addition to the Red Sox, Lindor also watched quite a bit of the Mets, the organization he now plays for. However, in citing the players from old Mets teams he enjoyed to watch, the four-time All-Star mentioned former big-league infielder and current Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

Cora, about to embark upon his second stint as Sox skipper, served as Lindor’s general manager for Team Puerto Rico during the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

The pair of Puerto Ricans share a very close bond, as evidenced by the former Indians star likening Cora to his “big brother” in 2019.

Even with that close bond in mind, the Red Sox were never really close to trading for Lindor before Cleveland dealt the star infielder to the Mets in a blockbuster, six-player trade last week.

MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported back in November that Boston wouldn’t “prioritize” a trade for the two-time Silver Slugger given their need to allocate resources towards pitching.

The reason Lindor was a trade candidate in the first place is because he is entering his third and final season of arbitration eligibility, meaning he can become a free agent at the conclusion of the 2021 campaign.

That being said, the Mets could very well lock up their new superstar to a lucrative contract extension before that happens. They certainly dealt for him with the intention to do that. Sandy Alderson, New York’s head of baseball operations, even said last week that he expected to talk to Lindor’s representatives about a potential long-term deal relatively soon.

Lindor himself said Monday that he’s open to signing an extension with the Mets to remain in the Big Apple for the foreseeable future, but only if an agreement that makes sense for both sides can be reached before the start of the season.

“I have never negotiated a contract during the season,” he told reporters. “Never. I’ve always said either before spring training, but once it gets to a point in spring training, it’s time to enjoy the ride and focus on winning. That’s the only thing I should be focused on — not how much money do I get, how much money do I need to get for my family. No, it’s about focusing on every day, my task.”

Given his willingness to potentially sign an extension, Lindor is not exactly locked in on hitting the open market this winter. But then again, free agency is definitely something that has been on his mind recently.

“I have never said, ‘I can’t wait to get to free agency,'” stated Lindor. “That was always so far ahead for me… When the negotiations with the Indians weren’t going how we were planning, then it was like, ‘Okay, this at some point might become a reality.’ Either I go to free agency or I get traded. But, if I told you I didn’t think about [free agency] this offseason, I would be lying. Yes, it was on my mind, but I’m happy to be where I am today and we’ll see what happens.”

When it comes down to it, Lindor’s situation resembles that of former Red Sox sensation Mookie Betts from over the summer.

Having just been traded from the Sox to the Dodgers in February, Betts opted to sign a record-breaking 12-year, $365 million extension with Los Angeles in July before even playing a game for the team.

Betts agreeing to that extension came at a time when the 28-year-old had already publicly stated he was intent on reaching free agency, but the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic likely changed his mind.

Taking into account the financial constraints that have been placed on clubs as a result of said pandemic, Lindor may opt to follow Betts and agree to a deal with the Mets before suiting up for them.

New York, with owner Steve Cohen now at the helm, has shown a willingness to spend after all, and re-upping a bona fide talent such as Lindor would certainly be money well spent.

Having written all this, I did think it was interesting that Lindor brought up the Red Sox in his presser earlier Monday.

Given the connection to Cora, as well as the fact that Boston’s current shortstop, Xander Bogaerts, can opt out of his contract and become a free agent at the end of the 2022 season, I feel like the Sox can’t be ruled out on Lindor as long as he doesn’t commit to the Mets for the long-term.

In other words, under the assumption that Lindor heads into next winter as a free agent, which I should add is unlikely, I have to assume that the Red Sox will to some extent be in play for his services next winter.

Even as I type that out, whatever is in store for the Red Sox all depends on what chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have in mind for the time being. I will leave it at that.

(Picture of Francisco Lindor and Alex Cora: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Could Red Sox Welcome Soon-To-Be Free Agent Stephen Gonsalves Back in 2021?

Excluding position players, 27 different pitchers took the mound for the Red Sox in 2020. Left-hander Stephen Gonsalves was not one of them.

The 26-year-old was claimed off waivers by Boston from the Mets early in the season and was subsequently optioned to the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket, where he remained on the Sox’ 40-man roster up until August 19.

At that point, Gonsalves was designated for assignment in order to make room on the 40-man roster for veteran right-hander Andrew Triggs.

A week went by and Gonsalves went unclaimed, which resulted in his being outrighted to Pawtucket.

As he spent the final few weeks of his 2020 campaign working out at McCoy Stadium, the San Diego native was actually very impressive, which is important when you consider the fact that he will become a minor-league free agent this winter. Worcester Red Sox pitching coach Paul Abbott made that much clear when speaking with reporters via Zoom last week.

“Gonsalves is a guy that can make an impact next year if we bring him back,” Abbott said. “I know he’s a minor-league free agent. His velo went from 89-90 mph — and he already had a highly rated fastball that had some carry — the velo jumped up to 94-96 mph. He got better as we went along and I know he was close to getting an opportunity because they brought him up there.”

A former fourth-round pick of the Twins out of high school in 2013, Gonsalves only has seven major-league outings under his belt. In those seven appearances, four of which were starts, towards the end of the 2018 season, the one-time University of San Diego commit posted a 6.57 ERA and .822 OPS against over 24 2/3 innings pitched.

At the start of the 2019 campaign, Gonsalves suffered an elbow strain in April and a stress reaction to that same elbow in May, which resulted in the former top prospect accruing just 13 innings of work across three minor-league levels last year prior to ultimately getting designated by Minnesota in November.

Since joining the Red Sox organization over the summer, Gonsalves obviously has not had the chance to showcase himself in any real, meaningful games. But, as Abbott mentioned, an uptick in the 6-foot-5 southpaw’s fastball velocity could mesh well with his other three pitches — changeup, slider, curveball — moving forward.

With that being said, in addition to how highly Abbott spoke of him, Gonsalves may be someone the Red Sox look to bring back early on in free agency this offseason.

Assuming he is brought back by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. on a minor-league deal, Gonsalves could prove to be an interesting hurler to monitor during spring training next year given the fact he has experience as both a starter and reliever.

Right-Hander Chris Mazza to Make First Career Start for Red Sox on Sunday Night

Right-hander Chris Mazza will make his first career major-league start for the Red Sox in Sunday night’s game against the Yankees, manager Ron Roenicke announced Saturday.

Per Roenicke, Mazza’s last outing at Yankee Stadium, in which he tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief on August 1, factored into this decision.

The 30-year-old hurler allowed just one hit, walked two, and fanned three in what was his Red Sox debut earlier this month, but he was promptly optioned back to the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket on August 6 when roster sizes across baseball had to be reduced from 30 to 28 players.

That being said, a roster move will have to be made in order to add Mazza back to the active roster, which is exactly what Roenicke said would happen earlier in the week.

Prior to being claimed off waivers by the Red Sox from the Mets back in December, Mazza made 17 total starts between Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Syracuse last season. With Syracuse, the California native posted a 3.77 ERA and .234 batting average against over 13 starts and 74 innings of work.

By going with Mazza for Sunday night’s contest, Roenicke and Co. “are trying to be a little bit more specific” in terms of managing the club’s starting rotation. Through Boston’s first 20 games of the season, 10 different starting pitchers have already been used.

Following Mazza’s start on Sunday, the Red Sox will turn to left-hander Martin Perez on Monday to close out this series against New York before going with Zack Godley and rookie Kyle Hart in next week’s two-game set against the Phillies back at Fenway Park.

When asked about the struggles his pitching staff has endured so far this season, Roenicke acknowledged that it is certainly “more difficult to manage” when you don’t have five definitive starting pitchers and that the 2019 Red Sox “kind of went through the same thing.”

With that in mind, it’s Nathan Eovaldi getting the ball for the Sox on Saturday night. First pitch is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. eastern time on FOX and WEEI.

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 Lineup: Kevin Pillar Moves to Leadoff Spot for First of Three Against Yankees

After sweeping the first leg of the road trip against the Mets on Wednesday and Thurday, the Red Sox will look to go unbeaten against another New York team in the American League East-leading Yankees over the weekend.

In the first of this three-game set in the Bronx, right-hander Ryan Weber will get the ball first for Boston, while 27-year-old left-hander Jordan Montgomery will do the same for New York.

Weber, 29, has never started a game against the Yankees before in his brief major-league career, but he does own a 2.84 ERA in three career relief appearances against the Bronx Bombers spanning 6 1/3 total innings pitched.

Montgomery, meanwhile, has three starts against the Red Sox under his belt, and he owns a 3.30 ERA in those outings spanning 14 1/3 innings of work.

As for how the Sox will be lining up behind Weber and against Montgomery to start things out on Friday, outfielder Kevin Pillar will get a crack at the leadoff spot in this one.

In what will be his first game as a leadoff hitter with Boston, the 31-year-old right-handed bat owns a lifetime .303/.339/.541 slash line in 118 career plate appearances when leading off against southpaws.

From there, J.D. Martinez is back in the two-hole at designated hitter, Rafael Devers is batting third after starting Thursday’s game on the bench, and Xander Bogaerts is batting cleanup. Pretty standard stuff for Sox manager Ron Roenicke thus far.

The red-hot Christian Vazquez, fresh off a 4-for-8, three-homer series against the Mets, will be starting at catcher and hitting out the No. 5 spot for the fourth time in five days, while Alex Verdugo will once again start against a left-handed pitcher and take Andrew Benintendi’s place in left field.

Rounding things out we have Michael Chavis starting at first in place of Mitch Moreland, Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field, per usual, and the ever-elusive Jose Peraza starting at second and batting out of the nine-hole for the third time in eight games.

Among the nine hitters in Friday’s starting lineup, Vazquez has had the most success against Montgomery, as he is a lifetime .750 hitter (3-for-4 with one home run) when facing the Yankees starter.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN, MLB Network, and WEEI. Red Sox going for their third straight win.

Heath Hembree Proving to Be Valuable Member of Red Sox Bullpen When Healthy

It’s way too early in the season for a legitimate evaluation, but I can’t help myself in saying that I’ve been impressed with what Heath Hembree has done out of the Red Sox bullpen thus far in 2020

In four appearances, the right-hander has yet to allow a run or walk while surrendering just one hit and striking out four over 3 1/3 innings of relief.

Over those four outings dating back to Opening Day, Hembree has faced 11 batters and thrown 46 total pitches, 32 of which have been strikes. In terms of pitch breakdown, the 31-year-old has thrown 26 four-seam fastballs (56.5%), 18 sliders (39.1%), and two curveballs (4.3%). One of those two curveballs thrown went for a hit against the Mets on Thursday, but it was just a harmless single.

Hitters thus far a slashing a measly .091/.091/.091 off Hembree while swinging and missing more than 15% of the time and striking out more than 36% of the time.

Per Statcast, Hembree’s xERA, or expected ERA, this season is 0.72, which ranks in the 98th percentile of major-league pitchers this season. In other words, the South Carolina native has been great. That much is also evident when you consider the fact that Hembree has accrued 0.2 fWAR so far this year, which is already higher than his 2018 and 2019 totals, according to FanGraphs.

Again, this is all within a very small sample size and some regression is likely to come, but after an injury-hampered 2019 campaign, seeing Hembree get off to this hot start out of the Red Sox bullpen sure is encouraging. It just goes to show that when healthy, the veteran righty is an extremely valuable member of Boston’s relief corps for manager Ron Roenicke. He’s proving that much right now.

Red Sox’ Christian Vazquez Emerging as One of Baseball’s Best Catchers

As the Red Sox have put together their first winning streak of the 2020 season over the past two games, Christian Vazquez has emerged as one of the more daunting figures in Boston’s everyday lineup.

In their last two victories over the New York Mets, the Sox have plated 10 total runs. Vazquez, by himself, is responsible for exactly 60% of that offensive production.

While playing at Citi Field for the first time in his major-league career, the 29-year-old went 4-for-8 (.500) with three home runs, six RBI, and three runs scored.

It’s a small sample size, sure, but when taking into consideration what he did at the plate last season and what he’s doing at the plate thus far in 2020, it’s becoming more and more apparent that Vazquez is emerging as one of the backstops in all of baseball. His manager Ron Roenicke said as much earlier this week..

“As a catcher, he’s really got to be up there at the top at what they do and the offensive part,” Roenicke said in regards to Vazquez via Zoom on Wednesday. “I know (Buster) Posey has always been one of those guys and (J.T.) Realmuto is one of those guys. And it used to be (Yadier) Molina. So Vazquez has put himself in a category with the best catchers. Defensively we know he does a good job. Offensively, last year, I thought he really stepped it up, showed us what he can do and he’s looking right now like he’s going to be that type of player again. So great for him.”

Vazquez himself has an adequate reason for upping his offensive game. Following a two-homer performance against the Metropolitans on Thursday, the Puerto Rican national recalled how he was once viewed as a defense-first catcher and how he wanted to prove that stereotype wrong beginning last year.

“I was tired of hitting ninth,” said Vazquez. “I want to be a different player. I want to feel like I’m helping the team both ways, hitting and catching. I’m trying to do my best.”

In addition to crushing two big flies off Mets starter Steven Matz on Thursday, Vazquez also helped Red Sox starter Martin Perez out by nabbing Michael Conforto at second on a failed stolen base attempt in the second inning. That play, as well as calling a fairly good game behind the plate, also got the attention of Roenicke.

“He’s doing both things,” the Sox skipper said Thursday. “Called a really nice game, blocked well, the throw from his knees to throw out the baserunner and obviously, the offense. We’ll keep him out there. As long as he’s catching like this and he’s feeling strong, we’ll keep putting him out there.”

According to FanGraphs‘ 2020 leaderboards, Vazquez leads all major-league catchers in fWAR (0.7) just about a full week into the new season. Again, it’s a small sample size and it’s also early, but it just goes to show that Vazquez could be among baseball’s elite behind the plate. Only time will tell if he is able to keep it up.

Christian Vazquez Comes Through With Two Homers as Red Sox Sweep First Part of Road Trip Against Mets

For the first time this season, the Red Sox have strung together consecutive victories, as they defeated the Mets by a final score of 4-2 on Thursday night to sweep the mini two-game series at Citi Field.

Martin Perez got the start for Boston in this one, and contrary to his team debut at Fenway Park over the weekend, the left-hander was much more impressive in his first start of the year away from home. That being the case because over 5 2/3 innings of work, Perez yielded just two runs, both of which were earned, on two hits, four walks, and one hit batsman to go along with five strikeouts on the night.

Both of those Mets tallies scored off Perez came in the bottom half of the third, when with one out and runners on the corners, the 29-year-old single to Jeff McNeil, which at the time put New York up 2-1.

Fortunately for the Sox, Perez was able to avoid any further damage in the frame and proceeded to sit down seven of the final nine hitters he faced from the middle of the fourth up until when there were two outs in the bottom of the fifth, the point in which his outing came to a close.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 88 (49 strikes), the Venezuelan southpaw relied on his changeup more than 35% of the time he was on the mound Thursday, inducing nine swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 91.5 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 15 times.

Able to pick up his first winning decision as a member of the Red Sox, Perez will look to carry this momentum into his next start, which should come against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg on Wednesday.

In relief of Perez, Heath Hembree came on with one out to get in the sixth, got that out by fanning Yoenis Cespedes on seven pitches, and proceeded to toss a scoreless seventh inning as well.

From there, Matt Barnes labored in the eighth with a one-run lead to protect, but despite dealing with runners on the corners with one out and the bases loaded with two, the flame-throwing right-hander escaped the inning unscathed by getting Mets rookie Andres Gimenez to ground out to first.

In the ninth, Brandon Workman appeared in a game for a third consecutive day, struck out the final two hitters he faced, and secured his second save and the Red Sox’ third victory of the season as 4-2 would go on to be Thursday’s final score.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against an unfamiliar opponent in the form of Mets left-hander Steven Matz, who was making his first career start against Boston in this one.

A scoreless first inning against Matz didn’t damper the Sox’ mood too much, as Christian Vazquez led off the top of the second by crushing a 2-1, 85 mph changeup down the heart of the plate 411 feet to left-center field to give his side an early lead.

Later on in the fourth, the red-hot Boston backstop struck once more, this time following up a Xander Bogaerts leadoff single with a 373-foot two-run blast off an 0-2, 94 MPH sinker from Matz. That put the Sox up by one once again at 3-2.

Flash forward all the way to the ninth, with the score still 3-2, and the Red Sox took advantage of a Mets reliever struggling with his command, as Alex Verdugo, Michael Chavis, and Andrew Benintendi all reached base off Edwin Diaz with no outs in the inning.

Rafael Devers punched out while pinch-hitting for Jonathan Arauz, but by taking a 90 mph slider off his elbow a few moments later, Jose Peraza was able to drive in a very important insurance run from third in the form of Verdugo.

That put the Red Sox up 4-2, which as previously mentioned, would go on to be the final score in Boston’s second straight win.

Some notes and observations from this victory:

Michael Chavis broke out of an 0-for-9 slump to to start the season by going 2-for-4 on Thursday.

Christian Vazquez’s OPS on the season is now up to 1.555.

From NESN’s Tom Caron:

From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

From Red Sox Notes:

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll open a three-game weekend series against the Yankees in the Bronx on Friday.

Right-hander Ryan Weber will get the ball for Boston, while left-hander Jordan Montgomery will do the same for New York.

Weber, 29, will be looking to rebound from a tough start against the Orioles last Sunday in which he surrendered six earned runs over 3 2/3 innings pitched. In three career outings against the Yankees, all of which have come in relief, the St. Petersburg native owns a lifetime 2.84 ERA and .182 batting average against over 6 1/3 total innings of work.

Montgomery, meanwhile, will be making his first appearance of the 2020 season for New York. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.40 ERA over three starts and 14 1/3 innings pitched against Boston.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN, MLB Network, and WEEI. Red Sox going for their third straight win.