The Red Sox added to the pitching depth by signing RHP Chris Mazza. Mazza’s signing was a low risk one, but what should we know about him?
The Boston Red Sox are staying busy with their roster moves this offseason. The new Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom is making a lot of low costs, short contract deals, which is just what Boston needs. But some of the decisions rightfully allow for a bit of an eyebrow raise. Newly acquired RHP Chris Mazza is one of those signings for me.
What do we know?
The right-handed pitcher was acquired off waivers from the Mets. Mazza was drafted in 2011 by the Minnesota Twins. Since then he’s bounced around teams playing in the minor leagues for 8 seasons and he spent 1 season playing in a foreign league. Mazza has spent 4 seasons playing in AA and 2 seasons playing in AAA.
While playing in AAA the righty had a 3.72 ERA, .500 W-L%, over 92 innings, allowing 83 hits, 40 runs, and 10 HRs. In AA he had a 3.24 ERA, .440 W-L%, over 283.2 innings, giving up 265 hits, 116 runs, and 18 HRs.
It wasn’t until late June of 2019 that Mazza made his MLB debut. The overall result? Let’s start with the bad and move our way towards the glimmer of promise.
Mazza had 9 MLB appearances in 2019, and throughout 16 1/3 innings, he accumulated a 5.51 ERA and 11 strikeouts. He had a 14.9% walk rate. Towards the end of the season, arguably attributed to the fact that his nerves were no longer as forceful, he didn’t allow a hit or a run.
As BoSox Injection’s Brendan Mizgala points out Mazza adds another weapon to the bullpen, while spending very little. Definitely, something worth keeping in mind. Talking about the Boston Red Sox salary issues would be like beating a dead horse at this point, but we all know the problem very much exists. Mazza did show signs of promise towards the end of the season though.
What am I worried about?
Well, in 2018 Mazza spent time between both AA and AAA. In AAA he had 18 appearances with a 3.61 ERA over 99.2 innings striking out 83 batters against 26 walks. At his age, it worries me that he’s still splitting time between AA and AAA.
Mazza is a ground ball heavy pitcher, which does have the potential to work considering the strength of the Red Sox defense (assuming we aren’t making any trades and that the position starters remain the same).
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He has a habit of walking hitters- something we all came to see a lot of in 2019. Maybe I’m being a little unfair to him in this regard, but walks are very frustrating to see.
He throws a sinker, cutter, slider, changeup, and four-seam fastball. Statcast notes that Mazza’s most reliable pitch type is the sinker and his speed is 92 mph on average. As I mentioned before with a sinker heavy pitcher, we’ll see a lot of ground balls. 92 mph for a relief pitcher though isn’t going to drop any jaws.
Although Mazza only spent 9 games in the MLB, we really can’t say for certain how he’ll perform (note- I wrote upside, but that point is also valid for being a downside). He’s a fresh unfamiliar arm to the league which could work in his favor. He’ll allow us to watch some fun, standard defensive plays. It was a short deal with a low salary.
We don’t know that much about Mazza, honestly. He’s bounced around different teams and different levels within the minors. He’s old to only be coming up to the majors at age 29. Overall, his performance in the MLB was nothing to write home about.
I worry about where and how he’ll fit into our bullpen (an area that we have and continue to seriously struggle in). Was this a signing for the sake of adding another arm, or is there something about Mazza that I’m not seeing? Well, I guess only time will tell in the 2020 season.