Nick Pivetta will be starting his second career home opener when he takes the mound for the Red Sox at Fenway Park on Friday afternoon.
The right-hander last started a home opener as a member of the Phillies in 2018 as they went up against the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. He allowed just four hits and no walks with nine strikeouts over 5 2/3 scoreless innings in that contest.
Fast forward more than four years later, and Pivetta will be going up against the Twins in his second start of the 2022 season on Friday. In his last time out against the Yankees in New York this past Saturday, the 29-year-old surrendered four runs (all earned) on four hits (two home runs), three walks, and four strikeouts across 5 2/3 innings of work.
Pivetta is now in the midst of his second full season with the Red Sox after coming over from the Phillies (with pitching prospect Connor Seabold) in an August 2020 trade that sent veteran relievers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree to Philadelphia.
At the time that trade was made, Pivetta was viewed as a reclamation project. The former fourth-round draft pick had struggled to find his footing at the big-league level since debuting with the Phillies in 2017 and had actually been demoted to Philadelphia’s bullpen during the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign.
After making his way back to the majors with the Sox that September, Pivetta showed promise in the two starts he made at the tail end of a lost season. Following his first off-season with a new organization, the righty picked up where he left off last April.
Through his first 10 starts of the 2021 season, Pivetta was 6-0 with a 3.86 ERA while Boston was 9-1 in the games he started. Although his summer did not go as smoothly as his summer did, the Canadian-born hurler still posted every five days. The only time he missed came on the COVID-19 related injured list and he finished third on the team in innings pitched (155).
On the final day of the regular season in Washington, D.C., Pivetta was available out of Alex Cora’s bullpen on just two days rest. The Red Sox needed a win to secure their spot in the American League Wild Card Game and were in possession of a 7-5 lead over the Nationals heading into the last half of the ninth inning.
So, in came Pivetta, who needed just 14 pitches to retire Lane Thomas, Alcides Escobar, and Juan Soto in order to record his second career save and send the Sox to the postseason for the first time in three years.
Pivetta was not used in Boston’s Wild Card Game victory over the Yankees at Fenway Park, but he did play a key role in the Sox’ triumph over the Rays in the American League Division Series.
Three days after not factoring into the decision of a Game 1 loss at Tropicana Field on October 7, Pivetta was available out of the bullpen for Game 3 at Fenway Park. He entered in the 10th inning of a 4-4 contest and proceeded to scatter three hits and one walk to go along with seven strikeouts through the middle of the 13th. In the bottom half, Christian Vazquez walked things off to send the Red Sox home with a two-games-to-one series lead.
Nine days later, Pivetta was back on the mound in Boston getting the start against the Astros in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series. He yielded just one run on two hits, two walks, and three strikeouts over five innings. The Red Sox did lose that game though and were ultimately eliminated by the Astros in six games.
Still, by posting a 2.63 ERA in 13 2/3 postseason innings, Pivetta showed that in his first taste of it, he is built for the pressures that come with pitching in October.
“That’s what I live for. I live for those experiences,” Pivetta recently told MLB Players Media. “And I was really grateful for that experience and how things turned out. I enjoy the game of baseball, but I enjoy competing and matching up against guys and seeing what it’s all about.”
Pivetta, who turned 29 in February, pitched to the tune of a 5.40 ERA and .840 OPS against in 15 home starts last year. For his career, he owns a 7.00 ERA in two prior starts against the Twins.
Those numbers aside, the adrenaline will surely be flowing for Pivetta at Fenway Park on Friday afternoon as he pitches opposite Minnesota right-hander Joe Ryan. First pitch is scheduled for 2:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)