Red Sox prospect Tyreque Reed involved in benches-clearing brawl in Portland

Red Sox prospect Tyreque Reed was involved in a benches-clearing brawl between the Portland Sea Dogs (Boston’s Double-A affiliate) and Binghamton Rumble Ponies (New York Mets affiliate) at Hadlock Field on Thursday night.

With two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the third inning, Reed was hit in the hand by a pitch from Rumble Ponies starter Marcel Renteria. It appeared as though the Sea Dogs designated hitter was prepared to take his base without any sort of confrontation.

While walking to first, though, Reed stopped in his tracks and must have heard something he did not like from Renteria, because the 6-foot-1, 250 pounder promptly charged at and punched the right-hander in the head/face area, causing him to drop to the ground.

As a result of the exchange, both dugouts quickly emptied and hurried onto the field. While Reed was involved in a larger scuffle, Renteria got back on his feet and — for whatever reason — tacked Sea Dogs second baseman David Hamilton, who had been the runner at third.

It took some time for the dust to settle, but by the time it ended Renteria was back on the ground being tended to by trainers after suffering an apparent injury. Reed, on the other hand, was ejected from the contest alongside Hamilton. The two were replaced by Elih Marrero and Cam Cannon, respectively.

Portland went on to defeat Binghamton by a final score of 12-5 on Thursday to improve to 6-6 on the season. Both the home and away team at Hadlock Field share the same clubhouse, so the Rumble Ponies stayed on the field a bit longer while Sea Dogs players and staff made their way to the exit.

Following the win, Sea Dogs manager Chad Epperson — who was coaching at third base at the time of the brawl — was asked about what happened. He could only respond by saying he did not know what Renteria said to Reed to ignite such a physical altercation.

“It’s just one of those things,” Epperson told The Portland Press Herald’s Travis Lazarczyk. “Obviously, something was going on there to set something off, but as far as what, I have no idea.”

The Sea Dogs and Rumble Ponies will continue on with their series on Friday night. Brandon Walter, one of the top pitching prospects in the Red Sox farm system, is slated to start for Portland.

(Picture of Tyreque Reed: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Bobby Dalbec comes through with go-ahead homer as Red Sox hold on for 4-3 win over Yankees to avoid sweep

The Red Sox will not be starting 0-3 for a second consecutive year, as they squeaked out a 4-3 win over the Yankees in the Bronx on Sunday night to avoid a sweep and improve to 1-2 on the young season.

Matched up against Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery to begin things in Sunday’s series finale, the Sox once again got on the board in their half of the first inning.

Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts each reached base via one-out singles, and both scored on a J.D. Martinez RBI double that was followed by a sacrifice fly from Christian Arroyo.

In possession of an early 2-0 lead, Sox starter Tanner Houck had an immediate cushion to work with. The right-hander was not at his sharpest on Sunday, though, as he allowed three earned runs on six hits, three walks, and one hit batsman to go along with three strikeouts over just 3 1/3 innings pitched.

The first of those three runs scored off Houck came with no outs in the bottom of the third, when Giancarlo Stanton plated Anthony Rizzo from second base to cut Boston’s lead in half at 2-1.

After Jonathan Arauz got that run back on a sacrifice fly off Yankees reliever Clarke Schmidt that scored Arroyo in the top half of the fourth, New York struck again in the latter half of the frame.

There, Houck issued back-to-back leadoff hits to Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Jose Trevino to put runners at first and second. He then punched out Josh Donaldson, who turned out to be the final batter he would face.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 78 (45 strikes), Houck turned to his four-seam fastball 45% of the time he was on the mound Sunday and hovered around 95.4 mph with the pitch.

In relief of Houck, Ryan Brasier got the first call from manager Alex Cora out of the Boston bullpen. Brasier, in turn, allowed both of the runners he inherited to score on a then-game-tying two-run single from Rizzo.

Kutter Crawford was next up in the fifth inning and impressed in his second appearance of the season. The 26-year-old righty stranded a pair of runners in scoring position in the fifth before striking out Rizzo and Aaron Judge in a scoreless sixth.

Moments before Crawford did that, Bobby Dalbec broke the 3-3 tie by cranking his first home run of the season off Schmidt. It came on the very first pitch of the sixth inning, a 94 mph sinker down the heart of the plate that Dalbec deposited 391 feet to right-center field to give the Red Sox a 4-3 advantage.

In the seventh, Crawford yielded a leadoff single to Stanton, representing the potential tying run, before making way for Matt Strahm. The left-hander proceeded to strand Stanton at first base by retiring the next three Yankees he faced in order.

From there, Hansel Robles maneuvered his way around a leadoff walk in an otherwise clean eighth inning. And in the ninth, Jake Diekman got his outing started in dramatic fashion by fanning the dangerous Judge on 11 pitches. He then got Stanton and Joey Gallo to strike out swinging as well to lock down his first save in a Red Sox uniform.

All told, five different Boston relievers (Brasier, Crawford, Strahm, Robles, Diekman), combined for 5 2/3 scoreless innings in which they scattered five hits and one walk while striking out a total of six.

Crawford, for what it’s worth, was credited with the winning decision — the first of his young career.

Some other notes from this victory:

From the Red Sox’ J.P. Long:

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

Next up: To Detroit

The Red Sox will continue their season-opening road trip by heading to Detroit for a three-game set against the Tigers at Comerica Park.

Veteran right-hander Michael Wacha is slated to make his first start of the year for Boston in the series opener on Monday. Detroit will roll with fellow righty Matt Manning.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 5:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Bobby Dalbec: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Red Sox go 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position, drop second straight to Yankees in 4-2 loss

For the second straight day, the Red Sox found themselves with an early lead over the Yankees but were unable to hold onto it in the end.

Boston fell to New York by a final score of 4-2 at Yankee Stadium on Saturday afternoon, marking their second consecutive loss to open the 2022 campaign.

The Sox lineup did all of their damage off Yankees starter Luis Severino in their half of the second inning. After going down in order in the first, J.D. Martinez led off the following frame with a single and was driven in when Alex Verdugo took Severino deep to right field for his first home run of the season.

Verdugo’s two-run blast came on a 2-1, 98 mph fastball from Severino and left his bat with an exit velocity of 104.1 mph. It also traveled 382 feet into the right field seats to give Boston the early 2-0 lead.

Nick Pivetta, on the other hand, was in the midst of his first start of the season when Verdugo went yard. The right-hander faced first the minimum nine batters through his first three innings on the mound.

Jackie Bradley Jr. helped him out by gunning down Joey Gallo, who was attempting to stretch a two-out single into a double, at second base for the final out of the second and recorded his first outfield assist of the year in doing so.

Josh Donaldson, the hero of Opening Day, led off the fourth with a line-drive single. Aaron Judge then lifted a 411-foot flyout to the deepest part of the park in straightaway center field that Enrique Hernandez was able to come up with.

Anthony Rizzo, who homered off Nathan Eovaldi on Friday, proceeded to mash his second two-run home run in as many days by depositing a 93 mph Pivetta fastball 389 feet to right field to pull the Yankees back even at two runs apiece.

After standing two more base runners in the fourth on a pair of walks, Pivetta bounced back by retiring the side in the fifth. He was unable to carry that momentum into the sixth, though, as he issued a leadoff walk to Judge and a booming, 437-foot two-run blast to Giancarlo Stanton that had an exit velocity of 112 mph.

Stanton would be the second-to-last batter Pivetta would face, as he was pulled by Red Sox manager Alex Cora after recording the second out of the inning. The 29-year-old finished his day having allowed four runs (all earned) on four hits, three walks, and four strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings of work. 50 of the 81 pitches he threw went for strikes.

In relief of Pivetta, left-hander Austin Davis came on to finish things in the sixth and did just that by getting Gallo to fly out to left. From there, Hirokazau Sawamura twirled a 1-2-3 seventh inning and Phillips Valdez did the same in the eighth. It was a combined perfect showing for the trio of relievers making their 2022 debuts.

While the likes of Davis, Sawamura, and Valdez did their job by holding the Yankees to four runs, the Yankees bullpen did their job by holding the Red Sox to just two.

Severino may have lasted just three-plus innings in his first start since 2019, but six different New York relievers held their own from there. The Boston bats stranded Rafael Devers at second in the third, and Bradley Jr. and Verdugo at first and third in the fourth.

Fast forward all the way to the ninth, Christian Arroyo came on to pinch-hit for Bradley Jr. and reached base off Aroldis Chapman via a throwing error committed by Isiah Kiner-Filefa.

Arroyo was able to advance to second on the error and brought the potential tying run to the plate with just one out in the frame. Chapman, however, did not lose his composure. The Yankees closer got Christian Vazquez to fly out and Hernandez to ground out to secure his first save and send the Red Sox to 0-2 on the young season.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox went a whopping 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position on Saturday and left eight runners on base as a team. They did that while still outhitting the Yankees, 5-4.

Saturday’s contest took less than three hours to complete and was played in front of 46,882 spectators in the Bronx.

Next up: Houck vs. Montgomery

Looking to avoid a three-game sweep to start the year, the Red Sox will turn to right-hander Tanner Houck in Sunday night’s series finale against the Yankees, who will roll with left-hander Jordan Montgomery.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 7:08 p.m. eastern time on ESPN.

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)

Red Sox blow early lead, fall to Yankees, 6-5, in 11 innings on Opening Day

For the fourth time under manager Alex Cora, the Red Sox have lost on Opening Day. The Sox kicked off the 2022 season by falling to the Yankees, 6-5, in 11 innings at Yankee Stadium on Friday afternoon.

Right out of the gate, Boston jumped all over New York ace Gerrit Cole, who began his day by issuing a four-pitch, leadoff walk to Enrique Hernandez in the first inning.

Rafael Devers immediately made Cole pay for that by taking the right-hander deep to right field on a two-run blast that left his bat at 101.4 mph and travelled 382 feet. Devers’ first home run of the season gave the Red Sox an early 2-0 lead.

Xander Bogaerts followed Devers by lacing a 111.8 mph base hit to left field and scored his side’s third run on an RBI double off the bat of J.D. Martinez. And just like that, Boston had plated three runs before recording a single out.

A three-run first inning seemingly put Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi in a good spot heading into the bottom half of the frame. Making his third consecutive Opening Day start for Boston, Eovaldi instead ran into some trouble when he issued a one-out single to Aaron Judge and two-run home run to Anthony Rizzo shortly thereafter.

So the Red Sox’ early three-run cushion had been trimmed down to one run after just one inning of play. Eovaldi and Cole both settled in for a bit, but it was the former who fell victim to the long ball once more in the fourth.

There, the dangerous Giancarlo Stanton ripped a vintage Yankee Stadium home run to right field that had a launch angle of only 15 degrees. Still, Stanton’s 358-foot solo shot knotted things up at three runs apiece.

Eovaldi got through the rest of the fourth, then put two runners on via a single and hit batsman while recording the first two outs of the fifth. The veteran right-hander nearly saw the 3-3 tie come apart when he yielded a screaming fly ball to D.J. LeMahieu, but Alex Verdugo bailed him out by making an impressive diving catch in left field.

That is how Eovaldi’s first outing of the year came to a close. All told, the 32-year-old hurler allowed three runs (all earned) on five hits, one walk, one hit batsman, and seven strikeouts over five innings of work. He threw 76 pitches (56 strikes) and averaged 98.2 mph with his vaunted four-seam fastball.

Shortly after Eovaldi’s day ended, the Red Sox lineup picked things back up in their half of the sixth. With Yankees reliever Clay Holmes now in the game, Bogaerts led off with a double and immediately advanced to third base on a Martinez groundout.

Following a brief mound visit, Verdugo came through on the other side of the ball by easily plating Bogaerts on a run-scoring single through the right side of the infield.

After Holmes and fellow reliever Miguel Castro proceeded to load the bases with two outs, the Sox failed to add on to their newfound 4-3 lead as Christian Vazquez fanned on four pitches to extinguish the threat.

Former Yankees prospect Garrett Whitlock got the call from Cora to take over for Eovaldi beginning in the latter of the sixth. The hard-throwing righty breezed through the sixth and seventh by retiring six of the first seven batters he faced.

The eighth inning, however, was a different story. After giving up all of six home runs last season, Whitlock served up a game-tying solo blast to LeMahieu that pulled New York back even with Boston at 4-4.

Whitlock then made way for newcomer Matt Strahm, who worked his way around a walk to get through the rest of the eighth. A half-inning later, Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman made relatively quick work of Bobby Dalbec, Christian Arroyo (pinch-hitting for Jackie Bradley Jr.), and Vazquez to keep the stalemate intact.

In the bottom of the ninth, Hansel Robles — two days after making the team — was dispatched in a critical spot. The veteran reliever made just two appearances this spring after signing with Boston late and managed to strand the potential winning run at second base by fanning Stanton for the final out of the inning.

With Robles sending this one into extras, Jonathan Arauz became the automatic runner at second base to begin things in the 10th as he replaced Vazquez. Hernandez failed to advance Arauz, but Bogaerts did not.

After the Yankees elected to intentionally walk Devers with one out, Bogaerts delivered by lifting an RBI single to shallow left field. The ball only travelled 187 feet off Bogaerts’ bat, but it was deep enough to score Arauz from second base to give the Sox a 5-4 advantage.

Jake Diekman was tasked with protecting that lead in the latter half of the 10th. The left-hander plunked the first man he faced in LeMahieu then got Joey Gallo to ground out to second, though runners advanced to second and third for New York.

That sequence prompted the Red Sox to intentionally walk Aaron Hicks, thus loading the bases as Cora dipped back into the bullpen and handed things over to Ryan Brasier.

Brasier, inheriting a mess, gave up the tying run on a sacrifice fly from Gleyber Torres, but escaped any further damage by punching out Isiah Kiner-Filefa on 10 pitches.

After the Red Sox went down quietly in the top of the 11th, Kutter Crawford came on for Brasier in the bottom half. With Kiner-Filefa representing the go-ahead run at second base, Crawford surrendered the game-winning hit to Josh Donaldson.

Donaldson snuck a single through the middle of the infield, giving Kiner-Filefa more than enough time to score from second to walk it off for the Yankees. Crawford, despite throwing just three pitches, was charged with the loss.

Some notes from this 6-5 defeat:

On the injury front, Xander Bogaerts exited the game in the middle of the 10th inning after appearing to injure himself on his run-scoring single. He was replaced by Jonathan Arauz at shortstop.

Trevor Story, making his Red Sox debut on Friday, went 0-for-5 with a strikeout.

The Red Sox went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left seven runners on base as a team.

Next up: Pivetta vs. Severino

The Red Sox will turn to Nick Pivetta on Saturday as they look for their first win of the young season. The Yankees will roll with fellow right-hander Luis Severino, who will be making his first start since 2019.

First pitch from Yankee Stadium on Saturday afternoon is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. eastern time. The game will be televised on NESN and FS1.

(Picture of Josh Donaldson: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Red Sox lose two players on waivers as Jeisson Rosario is claimed by Yankees and Kyle Tyler is claimed by Padres

The Red Sox lost two players on waivers to two different teams on Saturday. Recently designted outfielder Jeisson Rosario was claimed by the division rival Yankees, while recently designated right-hander Kyle Tyler was claimed by the Padres.

Rosario, 22, was one of two players the Sox acquired from the Padres in the August 2020 trade that sent veteran first baseman Mitch Moreland to San Diego. Hudson Potts, the other prospect Boston got in that deal, was designated for assignment himself on Monday but cleared waivers and remains in the organization.

After being added to the Red Sox’ 40-man roster in November 2020 to receive protection from the Rule 5 Draft, Rosario came into the 2021 season regarded by Baseball America as the No. 21 prospect in Boston’s farm system. The speedy left-handed hitter spent the entirety of the year with Double-A Portland and slashed an underwhelming .232/.335/.307 with three home runs, 36 RBIs, 48 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases over 98 games spanning 405 plate appearances.

On the heels of such a disappointing season, Rosario was clearly on the bubble coming into major-league camp this spring. He officially lost his spot on the Sox’ 40-man roster when the club signed announced their signing of free-agent infielder Trevor Story.

Tyler, on the other hand, had a much briefer stay with the Red Sox. The 25-year-old right-hander was claimed off waivers from the Angels on Tuesday but was then designated for assignment on Thursday when fellow righty Ralph Garza was claimed off waivers from the Twins.

A former 20th-round draft pick of the Halos out of the University of Oklahoma, Tyler debuted for Los Angeles last September and posted a 2.92 ERA and 5.20 FIP to go along with six strikeouts and six walks across five appearances (12 1/3 innings pitched) out of the bullpen.

In the wake of these moves being made, the Red Sox’ 40-man roster remains at full capacity. They also have 56 players on their spring training roster with less than two weeks until Opening Day.

(Picture of Jeisson Rosario: Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Former Red Sox outfielder Tim Locastro returns to Yankees on one-year deal

Former Red Sox outfielder Tim Locastro is returning to the Yankees on a one-year deal for the 2022 season, the club announced earlier Sunday afternoon.

Locastro, 29, never appeared in a game for the Red Sox after Boston claimed him off waivers from New York last November. The Auburn, N.Y. native spent less than a month on the Sox’ 40-man roster before being non-tendered on Nov. 30.

As a result of not being tendered a contract, Locastro became a free agent. At that time, it was reported that the Red Sox were interested in bringing back the speedster on a minor-league pact, though nothing came to fruition during or immediately following the MLB lockout.

After being traded from the Diamondbacks to the Yankees last summer, Locastro tore his right ACL in a game against the Red Sox on July 17 that prematurely ended his season. Prior to suffering the injury, the right-handed hitter had batted .180/.263/.252 with four doubles, two home runs, seven RBIs, 15 runs scored, and five stolen bases over 64 games (156 plate appearances) between Arizona and New York.

Known primarily for his speed, Locastro underwent knee surgery on July 21 and was rehabbing from his injury by early November. In an exchange with BloggingtheRedSox.com via email, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom described Locastro as “great depth for us to add at the beginning of the off-season.”

Things obviously did not work out in Locastro’s favor there, but the 6-foot-1, 190 pounder has bounced back by netting himself a major-league deal for the upcoming campaign.

With that being said, though, it would have at least been interesting if the Red Sox held on to Locastro throughout the winter and gave him a chance to compete for a spot on their 2022 Opening Day roster this spring. He will instead aim to do that with Boston’s top division rival.

(Picture of Tim Locastro: Adam Hunger/Getty Images)

Former Red Sox reliever Adam Ottavino agrees to one-year deal with Mets, per report

Former Red Sox reliever Adam Ottavino is returning to the Big Apple, as the free agent reliever has reportedly agreed to a one-year, $4 million deal with the New York Mets that includes an additional $1 million in performance bonuses. The New York Post’s Joel Sherman was the first to report the details of the contract.

Ottavino, 36, spent just one season with the Sox after being acquired from the Yankees alongside pitching prospect Franklin German in a surprising trade made last January.

Following a two-year run in the Bronx, Ottavino played out the final season of his three-year, $27 million contract in Boston. Across a team-leading 69 relief appearances in 2021, the veteran right-hander posted a 4.21 ERA and 3.96 FIP with 71 strikeouts and 35 walks over 62 innings pitched. In postseason play he yielded just one run in four innings of work.

Though suiting up for the Red Sox allowed Ottavino to reconnect with his alma mater in nearby Northeastern University, it seems apparent that the Brooklyn native enjoys pitching close to home since he has signed with a New York-based club in his only two stints as a free agent thus far.

While the Sox may have lost a veteran presence like Ottavino in free agency, they did reportedly add two other free agent relievers in left-handers Matt Strahm and Jake Diekman on Sunday.

(Picture of Adam Ottavino: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

In Brian Keller, Red Sox add intriguing right-hander who found success out of the bullpen at Triple-A in 2021

The Red Sox have seemingly made an annual tradition of poaching prospects away from the Yankees in the minor-league phase of the Rule 5 Draft, and they did so again on Wednesday.

After selecting Royals left-hander Austin Lambright with their top pick, the Sox took Yankees right-hander Brian Keller with their second and final pick of the day.

Keller, 27, was originally selected by New York in the 39th round of the 2016 amateur draft out of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He has been used as both a starter and reliever throughout his professional career, but what he did out of the bullpen in 2021 stands out.

On the heels of the 2020 minor-league season getting cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Keller opened the 2021 campaign at Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre as a member of the RailRiders’ starting rotation.

Out of the gate, Keller managed to keep runs off the board as evidenced by his 2.57 ERA through his first six starts. However, the Wisconsin native did so while walking as many batters as he struck out (21) and putting up a sky-high 6.36 FIP over 21 innings of work.

Beginning June 15, Keller was moved to Scranton’s bullpen on a near-full-time basis, as 15 of his 20 appearances from that point forward came as a reliever. As a result of that switch, the righty proceeded to post a 2.88 ERA and 3.16 FIP to go along with 44 strikeouts to 25 walks across 34 1/3 innings pitched to close out the season.

All told, Keller pitched to the tune of a 3.56 ERA, 1.88 WHIP, and .781 OPS against in 11 starts spanning 30 1/3 innings in 2021. Out of the bullpen, he produced a much lower 1.80 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, and .535 OPS against in 15 outings spanning 25 innings in 2021.

Not only that, but Keller’s strikeout rate increased from 19.7% as a starter to 34% as a reliever, while his walk rate slightly decreased from 19.7% as a starter to 16% as a reliever.

Per a recent report from Baseball America, Keller “gave up very little hard contact as a reliever” this year. He also “works up and down in the strike zone with a four-seam 91-95 mph fastball and a downer curveball, but he also can mix in a slider and cutter.”

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Keller — who does not turn 28 until next June — was identified by Baseball America as someone who could provide a team with pitching depth given his experience in the minors.

Since Chaim Bloom took over as Boston’s chief baseball officer in 2019, the Red Sox have made a habit of combing the Yankees’ farm system for both major- and minor-league pitching depth.

In 2019, the Sox selected right-hander Raynel Espinal from the Yankees in the minor-league phase of the Rule 5 Draft and did the very same thing with fellow righty Kaleb Ort the following winter.

Both Espinal and Ort made their big-league debuts this past season, but Boston’s biggest discovery was undoubtedly Garrett Whitlock, who they poached from New York in the major-league portion of last year’s Rule 5 Draft.

On that note, it is worth mentioning that the big-league phase of the 2021 Rule 5 Draft has been postponed indefinitely while Major League Baseball remains in a lockout.

(Picture of Brian Keller: Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Red Sox officially sign Michael Wacha to one-year deal; veteran right-hander will earn $7 million in 2022

The Red Sox have officially signed free agent right-hander Michael Wacha to a one-year contract for the 2022 season, the club announced earlier Saturday morning.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan first reported on Friday that the two sides were finalizing a contract that was pending a physical, which Wacha has since passed.

According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, the one-year deal is worth $7 million in value and does not include any options or incentives. The $7 million Wacha will earn in 2022 represents a significant raise from the $3 million he received with the Mets in 2020 and Rays in 2021.

This past season with Tampa Bay, the 30-year-old posted an unspectacular 5.05 ERA and 4.47 FIP to go along with 121 strikeouts to 31 walks over 29 appearances (23 starts) spanning 124 2/3 innings of work.

While Wacha may have struggled at times this year, he did put up a respectable 3.91 xFIP and career-best chase rate of 32.6%, which ranked in the 92nd percentile among major-league pitchers according to Baseball Savant.

From August 28 through the end of the regular season, Wacha appeared in seven games and made a total of six starts for the Rays. In that stretch, he pitched to the tune of a 2.88 ERA and 3.29 FIP while limiting opponents to a .167/.217/.300 slash line against and striking out 27.9% of the batters he faced.

For most of the 2021 campaign, Wacha had relied on his cutter as one of his most frequently-used pitches. But it got hit hard, so he ditched it later on the year in favor of throwing more four-seam fastballs (his primary pitch) and changeups as well as slightly more curveballs and sinkers.

Via Baseball Savant

A former first-round draft selection of the Cardinals out of Texas A&M University in 2012, Wacha spent the first seven years of his big-league career in St. Louis. The 6-foot-6, 215 pound righty was named MVP of the National League Championship Series in 2013 and earned his first and only All-Star selection to date in 2015.

After making more than 150 starts in a Cardinals uniform, Wacha inked a one-year pact with the Mets and spent the compressed 2020 season in Queens before joining the Rays on another one-year deal.

With the Red Sox, Wacha, who turns 31 next July, is now on his third team in three seasons. As of now, the veteran hurler is slated to join a starting rotation in Boston that includes the likes of Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Sale, and Nick Pivetta with Tanner Houck and Garrett Whitlock in the mix as well.

That being said, Speier reports that when the offseason began, the Red Sox “intended to add starting pitching depth, and will continue to explore ways of doing so by both trade and free agency.”

Wacha does, however, have experience working out of the bullpen, and so the Sox could elect to have him undertake a multi-inning reliever role if they feel that is where he would best be used to start things out in 2022.

On another note, Wacha — who is represented by CAA Sports — will wear the No. 52 with the Red Sox.

(Picture of Michael Wacha: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Red Sox ‘have expressed interest’ in free agent reliever Jeurys Familia, per report

The Red Sox have expressed interest in free agent reliever Jeurys Familia, according to WEEI’s Rob Bradford.

Familia, 32, became a free agent earlier this month after wrapping up a three-year, $30 million deal with the Mets he originally signed in December 2018.

First signed out of the Dominican Republic by New York as an international free agent in July 2007, Familia made his major-league debut in September 2012 and has since spent the vast majority of his 10-year career with the Mets.

Ahead of the 2018 trade deadline, the Mets dealt Familia to the Athletics, but quickly brought him back on that aforementioned three-year pact just a few months later.

This past season, the veteran right-hander posted a 3.94 ERA and 4.40 FIP to go along with 72 strikeouts to two walks over 65 relief appearances spanning 59 1/3 innings of work.

Per Baseball Savant, Familia operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a sinker, slider, four-seam fastball, and split-finger fastball. His four-seamer, which averaged 97.2 mph this year, may just be his best pitch considering the fact that opposing hitters batted just .073 against it in 2021.

A one-time All-Star, Familia does have plenty of experience when it comes to closing out games, as he registered 43 saves for New York in 2015 and a major-league best 51 saves in 2016.

That said, the 6-foot-3, 240 pound righty has recorded a grand total of one save since re-joining the Mets behind Edwin Diaz in 2019, though he did hold opponents to a 3.83 ERA when pitching in the seventh inning or later this season.

As things stand currently, the Red Sox would benefit from making some additions to their bullpen that is at the moment without Adam Ottavino, Garrett Richards, and Hansel Robles — all of whom are free agents.

(Picture of Jeurys Familia: Adam Hunger/Getty Images)