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 Call up Top Prospect Bobby Dalbec From Pawtucket

In the wake of trading Mitch Moreland to the Padres, the Red Sox are calling up top prospect Bobby Dalbec, manager Ron Roenicke announced Sunday.

Dalbec, who is regarded by MLB Pipeline as Boston’s No. 3 prospect behind only Jeter Downs and Triston Casas, could be in Sunday’s starting lineup against the Nationals depending on what time he arrives at Fenway Park from Pawtucket.

The 25-year-old corner infielder was originally drafted by Boston in the fourth round of the 2016 amateur draft out of the University of Arizona and in that time has established himself as one of the most dangerous power hitters in the organization.

In 135 games between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket last season, Dalbec slashed .239/.356/.460 while clubbing 27 home runs and collecting 73 RBI. As was the case when he was in the minor-leagues, the Washington native will be competing with Michael Chavis for playing time at first base. Roenicke is very much looking forward to that.

“I think it’s really important to see the possibility of what the future could look like,” Roenicke said of Dalbec. “Getting Bobby up here, who has been a guy who has been on our radar for a long time as one of our top prospects. Knowing the upside to what we think this guy can become. I think it’s important to see him, to see what he can do, and for him also to get comfortable with being in the big leagues. It’s still a weird atmosphere. It’s not the same as it was. I still think the atmosphere, knowing you’re in the big leagues will be important to him.”

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.

Former Red Sox Catcher Blake Swihart Released by Rangers

Former Red Sox catcher and top prospect Blake Swihart has been released by the Rangers, the club announced Tuesday.

Swihart, 28, originally signed a minor-league pact with Texas back in December after spending the first eight-plus years of his professional career with Boston.

Last April, the Red Sox designated Swihart, a former 2011 first-round draft pick, and dealt him to the Diamondbacks in exchange for outfield prospect Marcus Wilson.

The New Mexico native appeared in 30 games for Arizona from April 22 until May 31, going a measly 9-for-64 at the plate (.141) with three home runs and nine RBI before getting placed on the injured list with an oblique strain.

From there, Swihart was eventually activated from the IL on August 7, got into one game on August 11 against the Dodgers where he went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts off the bench, and was subsequently DFA’d a day later.

After clearing waivers and getting outrighted, the one-time University of Texas commit played 16 games and posted a .143/.234/.304 slash line for the DBacks’ Triple-A affiliate in Reno from the middle of August until the beginning of September. At that point, Swihart opted to become a free agent, leading to his joining the Rangers on a minor-league contract, as previously mentioned.

In his brief stint with Texas, Swihart had a decent spring training, going 5-for-16 at the plate with one home run and four RBI prior to the COVID-19-induced shutdown.

Assigned to the Rangers’ alternate training site last month, Swihart had been one of four non-roster backstops in Texas’ 60-man player pool.

Now a free agent for the second time in 11 months, Swihart will have the opportunity to sign wherever he so chooses depending on how much interest he garners on the open market.

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 Recall Jeffrey Springs, Robert Stock From Alternate Training Site

One day after trading two of their better relievers — Heath Hembree and Brandon Workman — to the Philles on Friday, the Red Sox have recalled left-hander Jeffrey Springs and right-hander Robert Stock from the club’s alternate training site ahead of Saturday night’s game against the Orioles.

Both Springs and Stock will be making their second major-league stint with the Sox this season after the former was optioned to Pawtucket on August 11 and the latter was optioned on August 13.

In his first four relief outings with Boston, Springs, who turns 28 next month, posted a 15.43 ERA and 1.164 OPS against over 4 2/3 total innings pitched from July 27 until August 11. The North Carolina native was originally acquired by the Sox from the Rangers in exchange for Sam Travis back in January.

Stock, meanwhile, made just one appearance for Boston while he was up with the big-league club from August 11 until August 13.

In that one outing against the Rays on August 11, the 30-year-old hurler yielded one unearned run on two hits, three walks and three strikeouts over 1 1/3 total innings of work.

A former second-round draft pick out of the University of Southern California back in 2009, Stock was claimed off waivers by the Red Sox from the Phillies on July 27.

With these moves made, the Red Sox once again have 28 players on their active roster, 15 of which are pitchers.

Matt Barnes Not Only Reliever Who Could Close Out Games for Red Sox Following Brandon Workman Trade, Ron Roenicke Says

With Heath Hembree and Brandon Workman now Philadelphia Phillies, a couple late-inning spots just opened up in the back end of the Red Sox bullpen. More specifically, with Workman gone, the Sox do not exactly have a set closer at this point in time.

Right-hander Matt Barnes took charge of that responsibility in Boston’s 8-5 win over the Orioles on Friday and he looked good doing so, needing just 13 pitches to record his first save since last June.

Even with Barnes’ impressive importance fresh in his mind, Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke didn’t really commit to the 30-year-old hurler as his set ninth-inning man moving forward.

“No doubt, I have faith in what he can do,” Roenicke said of Barnes during his postgame media availability. “I probably won’t do it the same way that we did with [Workman] because we had Barnes for the seventh or eighth or somebody and then going to [Workman]. This will be a little bit different, probably. I’m sure [Barnes] will get most of the opportunities, but if it matches up better with him in the eighth inning and another closer in the ninth, we’ll do that. I don’t think I’m just going to limit him to doing it for one inning.”

If it’s Barnes getting the call for the ninth, Roenicke named Austin Brice and Josh Taylor as relievers who could close out games if necassary.

“I think we have a couple guys that could do it,” the Sox skipper added. “I’m comfortable with all of them, so I think the match-ups will tell us what to do there.”

Left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez, who worked two scoreless innings in his 2020 debut on Friday after missing time on the COVID-19 related injured list, could be another candidate to close were it not for the plans the Red Sox have for the 23-year-old hurler.

“The only thing with Darwinzon is because we know he can give us two or three [innings], it may be more important to do that in the…sixth, seventh, or eighth, maybe,” said Roenicke. “I think he is more valuable in doing that than just keeping him to one inning. We’ll see as time goes on, but he was coming out [Friday] for the first time. He threw some nasty pitches. I know sometimes he may get a little wild, but his pitches, you see the swings they take and the bats that break and it’s just really good stuff.”

Out of the 40 pitches Hernandez threw in his first outing on Friday, the Venezuelan got the Orioles to swing and miss seven times. Because he accrued two innings of work against Baltimore, his next outing likely won’t come until the Red Sox’ next series against the Blue Jays in Buffalo.

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.

Former Red Sox Star Mookie Betts Goes Deep Three Times for Dodgers, Becomes Third Player in Major-League History With Six Career Three-Homer Games

Hours after the Red Sox suffered their most embarrassing loss of the season to this point, Mookie Betts put together his best offensive outing for the Dodgers out in Los Angeles.

Facing off against the Padres at Chavez Ravine Thursday night, the former Sox star belted three home runs as part of a four-hit, five-RBI performance in an eventual 11-2 win for his side.

In crushing three homers, which came in the second, fourth, and fifth innings, Betts became just the third player in major-league history with SIX career three-home run games under his belt. The other two? Johnny Mize and Sammy Sosa.

He also became the first player to hit three home runs within a game’s first five innings on three separate occasions.

At just 27 years old, Betts has already compiled 17 career multi-homer games in his relatively young career, with Thursday’s showing being his first as a member of the Dodgers.

“It’s obviously a great feeling to know you can go up and just hit and not worry about the rest of it,” Betts said during his postgame media availability. “These times don’t happen very often, so you just enjoy it while it’s here.”

It has been a little more than six months since the Red Sox traded Betts to Los Angeles and a little more than three weeks since the four-time All-Star inked a record-setting 12-year, $365 million extension with his new club to remain in southern California for the foreseeable future.

They say time heals all wounds, but as long as Betts continues to dazzle with the Dodgers, I do not think Red Sox fans are going to have an easy time of things accepting this new reality, especially when their team will likely finish the year with one of the worst records in the American League.

Red Sox’ Alex Verdugo: ‘I’m Not Replacing’ Mookie Betts

Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo was the centerpiece for Boston in the trade that sent Mookie Betts to the Dodgers. That much is true.

However, the 24-year-old wants everyone to know he is not here to replace the four-time All-Star in right field. He said as much following a two-homer, home run-robbing performance as part of a 5-3 win over the Blue Jays on Friday night.

“I’m not replacing him,” Verdugo said of Betts during his postgame media availability. “Yeah, he played here, but this is a game. This is a business. He decided to go elsewhere. I’m not replacing him. That’s what you guys say. That’s what everybody else says. I’m going out there and playing right field, playing my game.”

Verdugo was acquired by the Sox from the Dodgers as part of a blockbuster five-player trade that included Betts back on February 10. The two are both capable of playing all three outfield positions, so the comparisons between them have essentially been nonstop since then. Still, the exuberant outfielder is not a huge fan of that.

“I don’t think about Mookie,” Verdugo added. “I think he’s a great player, he did a lot for Boston, and he’s going to do a lot for the Dodgers. I think about me being here and what I’m going to do and bring to the team. It’s not a comparable thing. I don’t like comparing it. I don’t like when people bring it up. Obviously, the nature of the trade, it’s going to happen. People are going to say it. I’m going to go out there. I’m gonna play my game and bring the energy that I bring. That’s how I always have been. I don’t care about shoes to fill or anything like that. I’m playing my game.”

Adding on to that, Verdugo does not feel any added pressure playing in the same outfield Betts had patrolled since 2014. Again, he’s here to play his game and that’s what he’s going to do.

“Like I said, (the media) sees me going into right field replacing Mookie,” he continued. “I don’t see it like that. I see that I’m playing right field for Boston. That’s it. It’s just another team, another organization. Got to go out there and compete, and do what you do. The same way he’s doing it over there, we’ve got to do it over here.”

Through 11 games with his new club, Verdugo is slashing .294/.368/.559 with three homers and four RBI. He may not be Mookie Betts, but he is making a solid first impression in Boston and is looking forward to the challenges that await.

The pressure the former second-round pick feels has more to do with performing on the field to the best of his abilities, not replacing a former MVP in right field.

“To go out there and feel some type of pressure or feel some type of way about myself like I need to show something, to hit homers or rob homers all the time to fill this void that Mookie left, no. I don’t have that,” Verdugo said. My job is to get on base, to try to make this game a little bit easier for the guys coming up behind me and in front of me.”

On Saturday, we could see Verdugo bat out of the leadoff spot for the first time as a member of the Red Sox, so that’s something to look forward to.