How Red Sox fans should feel about Nick Pivetta’s Boston tenure
How should Red Sox fans feel about Nick Pivetta so far?
Nick Pivetta will go down in Boston Red Sox history as one of Chaim Bloom’s best trades.
Not because he’s a Cy Young-caliber pitcher or anything, but because of how absurdly one-sided the deal was. During the mercifully-short 2020 season, the Philadelphia Phillies were making a half-hearted postseason push and needed bullpen arms. Bloom sent Heath Hembree and Brandon Workman to the City of Brotherly Love in exchange for Pivetta and a pitching prospect, Connor Seabold.
When Pivetta is giving up five runs to the Tampa Bay Rays (which he did on Sunday), it’s easy to forget how big of a fleece this trade was. In retrospect, the deal was more lopsided than an elephant trying to ride a seesaw by itself. Hembree had never been particularly good, and Workman was struggling after a phenomenal season in 2019. Both imploded upon their arrival in Philly, and the Phillies’ postseason drought continued. Meanwhile, the Sox got a solid pitching prospect and a big-league arm under club control until 2025.
Pivetta made a good first impression over his two 2020 starts in Boston. Since then, he’s been an odd mix of steady and inconsistent on the mound; he’s out there every week, but it doesn’t always go well.
Overall, Pivetta gives up too many runs (though significantly less than in Philly) and issues too many walks. But there’s no denying that he’s a fiery competitor. It’s ironic, given the reason behind the trade, that the Phillies never got to see that until he left. Sox fans got a front-row seat when he made a Nathan Eovaldi-esque relief appearance in Game 3 of the 2021 ALDS. Entering for the tenth inning, held the Rays scoreless for four frames until the Sox bats woke up to walk it off in the thirteenth. With every shutout inning he threw, he’d leave the mound screaming and pumping his fist.
This season, Pivetta got off to a rough start – no pun intended – but after his first few games, he was dominant in May and June, posting a 2.18 ERA over 78 1/3 innings, holding opposing batters to a .193/.251/.309 line. Like the rest of his team, July was a miserable time; he allowed 25 earned runs over 24 total innings. His only redeeming start came on the 25th of the month when he held Cleveland to one run over 5 2/3 innings.
But so far in August, Pivetta was doing fine. Until Sunday, he hadn’t allowed more than three runs since July. He pitched a seven-inning shutout gem in Pittsburgh.
Ultimately, Pivetta is probably going to remain a back-end rotation man, not a marquee arm. But in a Sox season derailed by pitching injuries, he is the only starter who hasn’t spent time on the Injured List (knock on wood). In fact, he’s tied for the MLB lead with 26 starts on the season. Much like Rick Porcello, who could always go out and eat innings even if it wasn’t pretty, Pivetta is almost always on the mound for at least five frames. The standards for Sox pitching are pretty low this season, but he’s one of the only ones clearing the bar.
Overall, the Sox gave up almost nothing and got affordable rotation depth in return. The trade is an undeniable win.