Nick Pivetta Shows Promise, Offers Hope in Red Sox Debut

It had been well over a year, or 434 days to be more exact, since Nick Pivetta started a major-league game. In that July 17, 2019 contest against the Dodgers, the then-Phillies right-hander surrendered one earned run on no hits and four walks in just 2 1/3 innings of work, but was promptly demoted to the Philadelphia bullpen from that point forward.

Fast forward to Tuesday night and Pivetta, now a member of the Red Sox, got the chance to start in the majors once again against the Orioles at Fenway Park. The 27-year-old took full advantage of this opportunity, as he held Baltimore to one run on four hits and three walks to go along with eight punchouts over five strong innings of work.

That effort eventually netted Pivetta his first win of the year, and the native of British Columbia seemed quite pleased with the way things went in his Red Sox debut when speaking with reporters via Zoom postgame.

“Honestly, I’m just really grateful for this opportunity. It’s been over a year since I’ve been able to start in the big-leagues,” Pivetta said. “To be able to go out there, put up five pretty good innings, I was very elated.”

As elated as Pivetta may have been by the time his outing came to an end, how his evening began was rather shaky with three of the first five Orioles he faced reaching base on two walks and a single, resulting in that lone run crossing the plate on a D.J. Stewart RBI base knock.

With two outs in the top half of the first and runners on first and second, Pivetta found himself in a predicament where his goal was to limit the damage. He did just that by fanning Pedro Severino on four pitches, with the last strike coming on a nasty, swing-inducing 87 mph slider at the bottom of the zone. That proved to be a significant confidence booster for the righty.

“I would have liked to limit that damage a little bit more with some better fastball command,” said Pivetta. “But, getting out of that and moving into [cruise control] after that, getting my legs underneath me, get my confidence back, just relax and have some fun out there. I think that’s the biggest thing. When you get that first inning out of the way, you kind of just move into it and just go out there and compete.”

By the time he had recorded the final out of the fifth, Pivetta’s pitch count had reached 96. Out of those 96 pitches, the former Nationals prospect relied on his fastball 51% of the time, his slider 23% of the time, his curveball 21 % of the time, and his changeup 5% of the time. Relying on a healthy mix of these four pitches is something Pivetta worked to improve upon while in Pawtucket.

“Getting back as a starter, building back up, getting better command with all four of my pitches,” Pivetta continued. “That’s the pitcher that I am. You can’t go out there with two pitches, so being able to have a solid mix of four pitches, which I showcased tonight pretty well, that’s what we’ve been working on and it paid off tonight.”

Speaking of showcasing himself, Pivetta will get the starting nod in the Red Sox’ season finale against the Braves in Atlanta this coming Sunday. Two starts is obviously a small sample size, but that is no reason to believe that the 6-foot-5 hurler won’t be giving it everything he’s got as he heads towards the offseason.

“I think it’s huge,” he said. “I’m given two opportunities to showcase myself and do the best I possibly can. I’m looking forward to every opportunity I have and just moving on from that.”

Pivetta has made seven prior starts against the Braves at Truist Park. In those outings, he owns a lifetime 4.10 ERA and .731 OPS against over 37 1/3 total innings pitched. Sunday’s start in Atlanta will of course be Pivetta’s first outside of the Phillies organization.

Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom Drove To Pawtucket To Meet With Nick Pivetta This Week; Right-Hander Still Needs To Get Stretched Out Before Getting Called up

With right-hander Nathan Eovaldi hitting the injured list due to a mild calf strain on Saturday, the Red Sox find themselves down another starting pitcher. Granted, Eovaldi should only be out for the next week since his IL stint is retroactive to August 26, but Boston will need someone to fill in for the righty in the meantime.

Nick Pivetta, who was one of two pitchers acquired from the Phillies in the Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree trade, could have been viewed as a potential rotation option during Eovaldi’s absence, but Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke snuffed out any chance of that happening when speaking with reporters on Saturday.

“Chaim [Bloom] actually drove out to Pawtucket a couple days ago to talk to him and to feel out where we should be with him and when we should have him come up and pitch for us if he’s going to pitch for us,” Roenicke said of Pivetta via Zoom. “We need to stretch him back out again. He hasn’t pitched for a while. So, right now, we’re going to stretch him out and just see where that allows us to bring him up where we feel really confident that he’s ready and he’s extended out and has built up enough strength to pitch the innings that we’re going to have him go.”

Pivetta, 27, was traded to Boston on August 21 and was subsequently optioned to the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket that same day.

The 6-foot-5, 214 lb. right-hander appeared in three games for the Phillies this season prior to the trade, allowing 10 earned runs in just 5 2/3 innings out of the bullpen. Per Statcast, he operates with a four-seam fastball, a curveball, a changeup, and a slider.

“He’s a big, physical, power pitcher,” Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said of Pivetta the night the trade went down. “He’s got a really good fastball. Good breaking ball. He also has a changeup. A guy that’s shown the ability to carry a starter’s workload. And a lot of the underlying traits there have shown the potential for a lot more success than he’s enjoyed in terms of his results. Again, power pitcher that we think should be capable of holding down a rotation spot. Really feel like he’s a good fit going forward and that we’ve got a chance to help him reach a level he has not yet in his career despite his big stuff.”

As Bloom’s words indicate, Pivetta, a former fourth-round pick of the Nationals in the 2013 draft, has not exactly lived up to his former top prospect status in his time with Philadelphia, but the Red Sox are hoping to unlock something within him.

Along with fellow righty Connor Seabold, Pivetta arrived at McCoy Stadium this past Wednesday. Considering the fact that he is already on Boston’s 40-man roster, the British Columbia native could make his Red Sox debut sometime next month depending on how the organization views him in the short and long-term. The Providence Journal’s Bill Koch made this point as well.

Red Sox Outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. ‘Should Be on Move’ Before Trade Deadline Passes, per Report

The Red Sox could trade Jackie Bradley Jr. before next week’s trading deadline, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.

Per Nightengale, the Sox “have let everyone know that there are no untouchables, meaning that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. should be on the move, but unlikely shortstop Xander Bogaerts.”

Bradley Jr., 30, is one of two Red Sox outfielders who will become free agents at the end of the season, with the other being Kevin Pillar.

After a hot start to 2020, Bradley Jr. has come back to earth and is currently slashing .235/.300/.358 to go along with two home runs and eight RBI through his first 25 games of the year. Both of those homers came in Baltimore this past weekend.

In terms of where he stands defensively, the 2018 Gold Glover ranks 10th in UZR/150 (-15) and 10th in Defense among qualified American League center fielders so far this season, per FanGraphs.

On a one-year deal that was originally worth $11 million but was brought down $4.074 million due to the shortened season, Bradley Jr. would only cost approximately $1.63 million for the month of September.

That being said, Bradley Jr. could prove to be a valuable addition for a contending club looking to shore up it’s outfield defense, especially if the former Gamecock were to get hot at the plate once more to close out the 2020 campaign.

Even if Bradley Jr. were to be productive for his new organization in this scenario, he likely would not fetch too hefty of a return considering the fact he would only be under team control for less than a full month not counting the postseason.

Over the weekend, the Red Sox were presumably able to get more in their trade with the Phillies by dealing Brandon Workman, who will become a free agent this winter, AND Heath Hembree, who is under club control through 2021, as well as cash considerations, in exchange for right-hander Nick Pivetta and right-handed pitching prospect Connor Seabold.

If chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom were to attempt to move Bradley Jr. and/or Pillar within the next week, would it be out of the realm of possibilities for the Sox to attach a controllable player or a considerable dollar amount to sweeten the deal and garner a more significant return?

In other words, could the Red Sox use an expiring contract to essentially buy a well-regarded prospect? There was a chance of that happening over the winter, and it looks like it could happen for real before the end of the month. We’ll have to wait and see.

Former Red Sox Closer Brandon Workman Suffers Blown Save, Loss in Phillies Debut

Former Red Sox closer Brandon Workman had a tough night in his debut for the Phillies on Saturday.

One day after getting dealt from Boston to Philadelphia along with Heath Hembree, cash considerations and a player to be named later or cash considerations in exchange for right-handers Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold, the 32-year-old was dispatched by Phils manager Joe Girardi in the eighth inning of a 4-3 game against the Braves in Atlanta.

With his new team up a run with two outs to record in the eighth, Workman was put on the spot right away, and he immediately served up a two-run double to Matt Adams on his very first pitch, an 80 mph curveball on the outer half of the plate, in a Phillies uniform.

Atlanta went up 5-4 on Adams’ two-run two-base hit, but Workman was at least able to escape the inning without giving up any further damage on a fielder’s choice and four-pitch strikeout of Johan Camargo.

Despite that small bit of success, the Texas native’s fortunes took a turn for the worst in the bottom half of the ninth even after the Phillies offense had knotted things back up at five runs each.

That being the case because after Workman allowed three of the first five Braves he faced in the frame to reach, the bases were full with two outs and nowhere to put Adam Duvall.

Entering Saturday, Workman had never faced the Braves outfielder before in his career, and he initially fell behind in the count at 2-1.

On the fourth pitch of the at-bat, the right-hander could not sneak a 77 mph curveball past Duvall, and the ex-Red laced it to center field for the walk-off single.

As a result of that game-winning base hit, Workman was simultaneously charged with the loss and blown save in his first appearance as a Phillie.

“It’s not the first impression I’m trying to make, obviously,” Workman said during his postgame media availability. “That’s not what I do on the mound. I need to execute pitches better than I did tonight. There’s no excuse for that, I just need to do a better job of getting my job done.”

It just so happens that Workman’s old bullpen mate, Red Sox right-hander Matt Barnes, also took home the loss and blown save in Boston’s 5-4, extra-innings loss to the Orioles on Saturday. I’m sure those two will have a somewhat comical, self-depreciating exchange between one another before night’s end.

Red Sox Trade Heath Hembree, Brandon Workman, Cash To Phillies in Exchange for Right-Handers Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold

The Red Sox have traded right-handed relievers Heath Hembree and Brandon Workman, as well as cash considerations and a player to be named later or cash considerations, to the Phillies for right-hander Nick Pivetta and right-handed pitching prospect Connor Seabold, the club announced Friday night.

With this trade made, the first domino has fell for chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. leading up to the August 31 trading deadline.

Workman was set to become a free agent this winter, while Hembree is under team control through the end of the 2021 season.

The Phillies, who came into the weekend with the worst bullpen ERA in baseball (8.07), are clearly trying to upgrade their pen as they look to vie for a playoff spot despite a 9-12 start to the season.

By acquiring Hembree and Workman from Boston, Philadelphia has accomplished this in at least some capacity.

Hembree, 31, carried a 1.86 ERA and .503 OPS against through his first 10 appearances and 9 2/3 innings of the year before getting lit up for four runs against the Phils on Tuesday.

Workman, meanwhile, turned 32 last week and had yielded three runs on eight hits, four walks, and eight strikeouts through his first seven outings and 6 2/3 innings of 2020. That’s good for a 4.05 ERA and 2.57 FIP.

The two now-former Sox hurlers will likely become two of the top late-inning relief options out of the Phillies bullpen from now until the end of the season.

As for what the Red Sox got back in this deal, let’s start with Nick Pivetta.

A 27-year-old right-hander out of British Columbia, Pivetta appeared in three games for the Phillies prior to being optioned to the club’s alternate training site on August 11.

In those three outings, the former fourth-round pick surrendered 10 earned runs over just 5 2/3 innings of work.

Prior to 2020, Pivetta owned a 5.34 ERA and 4.56 FIP through his first 89 appearances (71 starts) and 390 2/3 innings with the Phillies dating back to 2017.

Per Statcast, Pivetta, who is listed at 6-foot-5 and 214 lbs., is a four-pitch pitcher who primarily relies on his four-seam fastball and has a curveball, changeup, and slider in his arsenal as well.

Turning to Connor Seabold now, the 24-year-old was the Phillies’ third-round pick in the 2017 amateur draft out of Cal State Fullerton.

Regarded by MLB Pipeine as Philadelphia’s No. 23 prospect, Seabold, listed at 6-foor-2 and 190 lbs., posted a 2.24 ERA and .224 batting average against in 12 total appearances (11 starts) and 56 1/3 innings pitched between three minor-league levels in 2019.

Per his MLB Pipeline scouting report, Seabold “will always be a command and control pitcher, one who has to rely on changing speeds and keeping hitters off-balance. His swing-and-miss rate went up in the Arizona Fall League and if that’s for real, he could fit into the back end of a big league rotation soon.”

Because the Red Sox traded Hembree and Workman, they opened up two spots on their 60-man player pool, which will now presumably be filled by Pivetta and Seabold. The former was on Philly’s 40-man roster, while the latter was not.

Update: For clarity, Pivetta was optioned to the Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket following the move.

RECAP: Brock Holt’s Eighth Inning Pinch-Hit Home Run Lifts #RedSox to Tight 2-1 Win over Phillies.

Fresh off a four-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles over the weekend, the Red Sox headed north for some tougher competition in the form of the 65-52 Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday.

Coming off an outing in which he surrendered seven earned runs on six hits in four innings pitched in his last time out against the Toronto Blue Jays last Thursday, Rick Porcello looked much more like the Rick Porcello we saw two starts ago when he threw a complete game against the New York Yankees.

Making his 25th start of the season in this one, Porcello ended up tossing seven innings of one run ball after taking a perfect game into the fifth.

The only real costly mistake the right-hander made last night was the hit that broke up the perfecto and no-no simultaneously, a leadoff solo shot off the bat of Phillies slugger Rhys Hoskins to leadoff the fifth.

A 1-1 72 MPH hanging curveball located towards the bottom of the strike zone, Hoskins did not miss in what turned out to be his 23rd homer of the season and lone run of the evening for Philadelphia.

Other than a two out single he gave up in the same inning, Porcello was perfect en route to his 15th winning decision of the season, as he set a new-season high in strikeouts with 10 on the night.

Like the typical quick worker he is, the 2016 Cy Young Award winner found himself in one three-ball count all night and never dealt with the same one batter for too long a time.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 90 (61 strikes), Porcello was pinch-hit for in the top half of the seventh inning, which would go down as the correct decision to make in that spot.

Before that happened though, the 29-year-old added on to his fine day on the mound with a second inning double off of Phillies starter Nick Pivetta for his second two-bagger of the year.

Out of those 91 pitches thrown, Porcello relied on both of his fastballs a combined 51% of the time on Tuesday while topping out at 92.5 MPH with his four-seamer in the first inning.

Improving to 15-5 and lowering his ERA on the year to 4.04, Porcello will look to build on what has thus far been an inconsistent month in his next time out against the Cleveland Indains on Monday.

In relief of Porcello, the Red Sox bullpen was responsible for closing out the final two frames on Tuesday night, and Heath Hembree did his part with a 1-2-3 eighth inning, which ended with this Odubel Herrera whiff.

Craig Kimbrel, on the other hand, was a different story.

Entering the ninth with a 1.071 OPS against over his last seven appearances, the flame throwing closer got his night started in a one-run game by walking the first batter he faced on six pitches.

With the help of Sandy Leon though, Kimbrel was able to secure his 36th save of the season by retiring the final three Phillies he faced to wrap up a 2-1 win for the Red Sox.

All and all, in nine total innings, Boston pitching held the Phillies to one run on two hits and one walk to go along with 13 punch outs. Not bad.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Phillies starter Nick Pivetta, who owned a 4.51 ERA in 24 games (23 starts) this season.

A right-hander in his second year in the majors, Pivetta held Boston scoreless in seven innings pitched in his only other career start against them at Citizens Bank Park last season.

Unfortunately for the Red Sox, it was more of the same from Pivetta on Tuesday night, as they could only tack on one run in the six innings he appeared in.

That run, a 384 foot solo shot off the bat of Sandy Leon with one out in the third, put Boston on the board first in this one.

Although they had another opportunity to score in the inning, nothing came of it after Andrew Benintendi grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Fast forward all the way to the eighth, with Pivetta out and reliever Tommy Hunter in for Philadelphia, Brock Holt came through with the biggest hit of the night.

Batting in the pitcher’s spot with one out in the inning, Holt swung away at the first pitch he saw from Hunter, a 94 MPH cutter located on the inner half of the plate, and sent it 424 feet to right field to score what ended up being the winning run.

Some notes from this win:

The Red Sox are 86-35, 10 games up in the American League East, and have won five games in a row.

From @SoxNotes: This is the first time Red Sox starting pitchers have ever recorded 10+ strikeouts and 0 walks in consecutive team games (source: ). Rick Porcello had 10 K and 0 BB tonight, after Chris Sale had 12 K and 0 BB on Sunday.

That home run from Brock Holt was his second career pinch-hit homer. The last time he did that came nearly two seasons ago against the Padres in San Diego.

Over the span of his six-game hitting streak, Holt is slashing .364/.440/.636 with two long balls and six RBI in 22 at bats.

Rick Porcello owns a 1.200 OPS this season.

Going for the quick two-game sweep later tonight, it will be Nathan Eovaldi looking for redemption in his first interleague start with the Red Sox.

In case you have forgotten, Eovaldi got his bell rung for eight runs on 10 hits in two innings last Friday against the Orioles.

In four career outings at Citizens Bank Park, the newest Red Sox hurler owns a 4.57 ERA in 21.2 innings pitched.

Opposite Eovaldi will be Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez, who, like Pivetta, has only made one start against the Red Sox in his four-year career.

That start, which came back when Velazquez pitched for the Astros during part of the 2015 season, was an outing in which the California native gave up three runs on seven hits in six innings pitched in an eventual 8-3 win for Houston.

That was a long time ago though, and things have definitely changed in the last three years.

First pitch of the series finale in Philly is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET Wednesday.