Is Nick Pivetta On Thin Ice?
Nick Pivetta struggled against the vaunted Braves lineup on Wednesday night. The right-hander went only four innings, allowing seven earned runs on eight hits and three walks to go along with two strikeouts, ultimately taking the loss. In his 34.2 innings of work this season, Pivetta has a record of 2-3 and a 6.23 ERA. Not exactly ideal.
But according to manager Alex Cora, the Canadian righty will make his next scheduled start at Fenway Park on Tuesday night against the Seattle Mariners.
Cora said on Wednesday: “Today, from the first pitch, it looked like he was a little off,” “He wasn’t able to put guys away in a few at-bats with two strikes. Didn’t put them away, and it was one of those where we just move on and be ready for the next one.”
Pivetta Surprised With Bullpen Questions
When a reporter asked if he thought his start was an audition to stay in the rotation, Pivetta responded with some surprise.
“I don’t really understand what you’re saying,” said Pivetta. “But I’m just continuing to go out and do my job. I’ve started for this team my whole time (with the Red Sox). I’m going to continue to do that. By the end of the year, I will continue to do that my next year and year in and year out.”
Pivetta has struggled with maintaining consistency in his time with Boston – Going 8-1 with a 1.95 ERA in 11 starts between May 7 and June 29 of last season but following that up with a 6.09 ERA in his subsequent 24 starts.
It’s also worth noting his hard-hit rate is 52.4 percent this season, up from 45.6 percent in 2022 and 40.4 percent in 2021.
Six-Man Rotation…For Now
Heading into the series against St. Louis starting on Friday night, the Red Sox will go to a six-man rotation. But that won’t be the long-term plan going forward, as someone will have to be the odd man out.
Cora said: “There’s a lot of stuff that comes into play,” “And it’s not only my decision; it’s the organization’s decision of what we’re going to do, putting everything on balance and seeing what benefits us now and in the future. We’ll all sit down; we’ll talk about it. There will be people that are thrilled they’re going to be in the rotation, and others will be upset.”
The fact is once everyone is healthy, the Red Sox will have seven starters. Yes, It’s a good problem to have, but it means that if things don’t turn quickly for Pivetta, he could be heading to the pen. And given his responses to reporters’ questions regarding the bullpen, that might not sit well with the righty. So what to do?
You don’t want to hamper Bello’s ability to develop as a starter, and sending him down could ultimately hurt his confidence (and piss off fans). And while many believe Garrett Whitlock is better suited in the bullpen, the Red Sox seem hellbent on giving him an extended opportunity in the rotation. That really only leaves Tanner Houck and Pivetta, the latter of whom has more upside and has pitched relatively well at times this season.
Give Pivetta A Few More Starts
Ultimately, I believe it’s the right move to give Pivetta another start or two before making any permanent decisions. As we know, he is wildly inconsistent and may be due for a strong run similar to the 11 starts he gave the team in May of 2022. Don’t want to sell low when he could be ready to break out.
Is Pivetta on shaky ground? Yeah, probably. It wouldn’t be shocking to see the Red Sox move him to the bullpen if he gets shelled against the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night. But because of his potential to go on a hot streak, I’m okay with giving him a few more trips through the rotation before making any moves, especially with Whitlock still recovering from injury.
Sometimes patience is a good thing.
The Road Ahead
Alex Cora laid out his starters for the next six games, which includes James Paxton’s long-awaited debut on Friday night against St. Louis. Paxton will be followed by Chris Sale, Corey Kluber, Tanner Houck, Nick Pivetta, and Brayan Bello.
Friday: James Paxton Vs. Adam Wainwright
Saturday: Chris Sale Vs. Steven Matz
Sunday: Corey Kluber Vs. Miles Mikolas
Monday: Tanner Houck Vs. Seattle, TBD
Tuesday: Nick Pivetta Vs. Seattle, TBD
Wednesday: Brayan Bello Vs. Seattle, TBD