Catalyst to Success
Heading into the 2022 season, the world knows who the Red Sox ace is going to be. Nathan Eovaldi has proven himself as someone Cora can rely on with the game on the line. The rest of the rotation has some question marks with E-Rod departing for the Tigers and Chris Sale out for another extended period of time.
The 29-year-old from Victoria, Canada had an up and down season last year for Boston. In the playoffs, he proved to be vital out of the bullpen against the Rays. Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold came over from Philadelphia in exchange for Brandon Workman, and Heath Hembree in May of 2021. Neither Hembree nor Workman still plays for the Phillies while Seabold and Pivetta are both potential starters heading into the start of the season.
During Game 3 of the ALDS, Pivetta pitched four innings of scoreless baseball, and only allowed the team that finished third in the 2021 MLB season in RBIs to three hits to secure a huge win in front of the Fenway crowd in a cool October atmosphere. After a disappointing outing in Game 1 of that series, Pivetta proved his worth to Boston with a vintage performance in front of some of the most passionate fans in all of baseball. At the start of the 2021 MLB season, Pivetta was dealing, getting four wins and three no-decisions in his first seven games on the hill. One of those games on the mound was in Queens against arguably the best pitcher on the planet, Jacob deGrom where he outdueled the three-time Cy Young winner to lead the Red Sox to a 1-0 victory.
Following the hot start, Pivetta hit some bumps in the road and began to look more and more inconsistent as each start passed. In June against the high-powered Toronto Blue Jays, the Canadian gave up four home runs, but on the fourth of July, he pitched a two-hitter against the Oakland A's. Cora even pulled him during a game in June against the Rays when he had a no-hitter still in play. Pivetta became known for giving up long balls on a consistent basis, but the then 28-year old always found had the ability to bounce back. His resilience and commitment allowed him to start the third-most games for Boston in 2021.
One of Boston's most consistent starters over the past six seasons, Eduardo Rodríguez departed Beantown for Detroit this offseason to play alongside its other offseason acquisition, Javy Baez who will play for three teams in less than 12 months. Chris Sale was announced just a few weeks ago to be missing an unknown period of time due to a stress fracture in his rib cage. Injuries have hampered Sale's success in Boston, but while he is recovering, Cora will have to rely on other arms to get the job done. Tanner Houck, Garrett Whitlock, and new addition Rich Hill could all slot into the rotation, but Pivetta may be the most essential and the one with the biggest opportunity going into next season.
Room in the rotation is now open, and if Pivetta wants it, he could solidify himself as the number two pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. He has shown flashes of brilliance since coming over from the Phillies, but he will need to continue to have that ruthless demeanor in order to have any success going forward. Just watching Pivetta on the mound, and in the dugout, the world knows how much he cares. His attitude after a missed pitch or a disappointing inning is actually how a fan wants a player on their team to react.
Last week, manager Alex Cora announced Pivetta will be the number two going into the season, stating, "It helps everybody, defensively, too...You have to be locked in. ... I love the fact that he gets the ball and he’s on the rubber. If there’s a pitch clock, he’ll be good."
Cora loves his relentless mentality, and his willingness to not back down from any hitter in the big leagues. What he does with the ball in his hand this season is going to determine the future of his career. E-Rod is gone and Sale is out, and the man that was fourth in the rotation last year will move up two spots, right behind Eovaldi. Josh Taylor, Matt Barnes, and Hansel Robles will be key out of the bullpen, but in games that Pivetta starts he has to set the tone each time.
In just a few weeks, the Red Sox will take on the Yankees on the road, and with a little bit less pitching depth than they would have wanted to have to begin 2022. Pivetta needs to be the guy for Boston. He has the personality, the swagger, and the talent to prove to Cora that he is one of the top two pitchers in the rotation. When Sale does come back, that will only make the Sox rotation even more lethal if Pivetta is clicking on all cylinders.