Boston Red Sox starter Nick Pivetta’s mechanics are off
Boston Red Sox starter Nick Pivetta is off to a rough start this season
The Boston Red Sox shouldn’t be counting on Nick Pivetta to be their No. 2 starter but it’s a role he’s been thrust into for an undermanned rotation, at least until their more accomplished starters return from injury. Teams rely on their No. 2 starter to give them more than two innings but that’s all Pivetta was able to give in Friday’s home opener at Fenway Park.
Pivetta allowed four earned runs on five hits and a pair of walks in his two innings of work against the Minnesota Twins.
In fairness, the ugly line in the box score isn’t entirely his fault. Byron Buxton led off the game with a sky high popup to shallow left field that everyone lost in the sun, gifting the Twins a double that would lead to their first run. A two-run homer in the second inning from Miguel Sano, who was searching for his first hit of the season at the time, landed in the front row of the Monster seats. That’s probably a routine out in most ballparks but with the wind pushing the ball out toward Fenway’s short left field wall, it was a tough-luck home run surrendered by Pivetta.
He deserved better, although that doesn’t mean Pivetta pitched well. He threw 54 pitches, only 32 of which were strikes. He had trouble locating his fastball, a trend that carried over from his previous start against the Yankees when he walked three batters. Pivetta has already walked five batters in 7 2/3 innings this season.
Location isn’t the only issue. Pivetta has been throwing with a notable decline in velocity to open the season. His four-seam fastball averaged 92.5 mph and topped out at 94 mph against the Twins, per Baseball Savant. That’s a tick lower than his velocity in his last start against the Yankees when he averaged 93 mph and topped out at 94.4 mph with his fastball. His fastball velocity in both games is down from the 94.8 mph he averaged last season.
Manager Alex Cora has identified the problem that has plagued Pivetta in the early going, according to MassLive’s Christopher Smith.
"“His mechanics are off, his timing is off,” Cora said. “So he’s not able to get his extension and that’s what makes him a really good pitcher with a good fastball. It’s been off for a little bit. I thought the one in New York he had better stuff than here.”"
Pivetta has been struggling with his mechanics since spring training when he issued six walks and coughed up five home runs in 15 2/3 innings.
Pitchers use training camp to work out the kinks in their mechanics so that they are running smoothly when the season begins. The lockout led to a shorter spring training, leaving Pivetta with less time to figure out what went wrong.
It takes time to work through flaws in a pitcher’s mechanics and unfortunately for Pivetta, that time is being spent during the season when the games count rather than making the adjustments in exhibition games.
He’ll get back on track relatively soon. Pivetta will regain his velocity and improve his command once his mechanical issues have been solved, at which point he’ll return to being the pitcher the Red Sox expected him to be. That’s not a No. 2 starter but it does make Pivetta a valuable member of the rotation.