Trade is official: Phillies acquire relievers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree from Red Sox for Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold.
Workman a free agent after the season. Hembree under contract through end of 2021.
— Corey Seidman (@CSeidmanNBCS) August 22, 2020
At the moment of the trade, the Red Sox had high hopes of fixing Pivetta and finally capitalizing on his obvious potential.
If we look at his final season stat line, we can say that the breakout hasn’t materialized, as he finished with a 6.89 ERA and a 5.68 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) in 15.2 innings.
However, there are a few signs that tell us Pivetta may be about to break out for good.
A Look At Pivetta’s Stats
For instance, his 23.9 K% and 8.5 BB% are encouraging.
Although his 9.7 swinging strike percentage is not so promising, we need to separate Pivetta’s season in two parts: his performance with the Phillies and with the Red Sox.
In Philadelphia, Pivetta had a 15.88 ERA in 5.2 frames, with an ugly 1.94 WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched.)
In short, he allowed hard contact and too many runners on the bases, which often leads to awful outcomes for pitchers.
Yet, something seemed to click for Pivetta after he landed on the Red Sox, as he started a couple of games and had a 1.80 ERA in 10 frames.
— NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSBoston) September 4, 2020
He allowed his fair share of baserunners, with 13 over the 10 innings, but was much more efficient and struck out 13 foes in comparison to five walks.
It’s only a couple of starts, but the Red Sox are very encouraged about a potential breakout season by Nick Pivetta in 2021.
Will Pivetta Be In The Red Sox’s Rotation In 2021?
Per MLB.com’s Ian Browne, the Red Sox are pleased with what they have seen of Pivetta early in camp.
He is reportedly fighting for a rotation spot and is in very good position of securing one, at least until Chris Sale is ready to come off the injured list.
Manager Alex Cora said, per Browne:
“He proved it last year in a small sample size. I do believe the ability is there, the pitchability is there, the stuff is there. Just let him be himself, go out and compete and see where it takes us.”
Pivetta has a career ERA of 5.40 in 406.1 frames, and that kind of performance won’t give him much of a leash in the big leagues.
However, his 9.61 K/9 (strikeouts per nine innings) will continue to give opportunities to him, as long as he can keep his walks (3.39 BB/9) and home runs (1.62 HR/9) in check.
That, right there, will be the key for him: home runs have ruined his stats so far in his big league tenure, but the fact that MLB will “dejuice” the ball in 2021 is actually encouraging for Pivetta.
In the end, it will be his command the one element that will dictate whether he can breakout in 2021 or if he will be a mediocre pitcher.
A breakout is a possibility, and the 2021 season will be a make-or-break one for the right-hander.