Red Sox: Don’t sleep on left-handed reliever Robby Scott

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Few opportunities have been given to him, but Robby Scott has the track record and the stuff to stick as a left-handed reliever for the Boston Red Sox.

If I asked 100 Boston Red Sox fans to name a left-handed reliever on the team whose first name is “Robby”, 99 of the responses are “Robbie Ross”. And that’s because I coincidentally polled Robby Scott’s mom.

Yes, Robby Scott exists, and perhaps some remember glimpses of him in 2016. He only pitched six innings with the big league club, but three of them came on a fateful September night at Fenway Park when Hanley Ramirez blasted a walk-off home run against the Yankees, capping a furious six-run comeback. Down 5-1 in the sixth inning, manager John Farrell summoned unknown lefty Robby Scott, pitching on thirteen days’ rest, to take part in baseball’s biggest rivalry in the midst of a playoff hunt.

With little fanfare or dramatics, Scott efficiently retired nine of the twelve Yankees he faced in three innings of work, allowing no runs to score and keeping the Red Sox in the ballgame. It was that moment when the Red Sox and fans alike had to take a second look at Robby Scott, the undrafted southpaw.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports /

Small sample size aside, Scott has long been a quietly effective reliever. He signed on with the Red Sox organization in 2011 after a year in an independent league, and in the six seasons prior to his call-up, the 26-year old compiled a 2.75 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and a 7.9 K/9 over 314 innings of work.

He’s shown enough to show flashes of acquiring prospect status, having been selected to pitch in the Arizona Fall League with the Saguaro Surprises in 2014 and to participate in this year’s Red Sox rookie development program.

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The sidewinder features an upper-80s fastball, a loopy curveball with a two-plane break, and a changeup with a straight drop. His repertoire and pitching style is akin to lefty Rich Hill, who recently discovered the fountain of youth during his time in Boston. Hill mastered the art of changing his arm angle to give his curveball a different break, and using this unpredictability to mask his lack of velocity. All of a sudden, hitters couldn’t catch up to Hill’s 88 MPH straight fastball and were flailing on a 72 MPH slurve.

Hill’s success represents Scott’s ceiling, as a pitcher who isn’t blessed with a rocket arm, but is ultimately resourceful and impossible to predict. And given the Red Sox’s general lack of effective lefty relievers (save Robbie Ross), Scott turning into the next Boone Logan or Javier Lopez would be huge.

At the moment, however, Scott’s path to a permanent spot on the big league roster is mostly blocked. After Fernando Abad’s arbitration situation is worked out, he and Ross will likely make up the team’s left-handed relieving corps to start 2017.

But the bullpen is notorious for its instability and unreliability. A dynamic reliever one year is cut from the team the next after a couple of rough months. And in Scott’s case, sometimes an unheralded minor leaguer can make a splash given the right opportunity.

Next: Red Sox avoided long-term options because of Sam Travis

Here’s a not-so-bold prediction: We’re going to see Robby Scott jog out to the mound from the right field bullpen sometime in 2017. Bolder prediction: He’s going to stick.