It might be time to start looking at Nick Pivetta in a different light


Alex Cora sings the praises of Nick Pivetta

BALTIMORE - Defining exactly what the Red Sox have heading into 2024 has been a challenge, particularly when it comes to their starting rotation.

The anchor appears to be Brayan Bello, the 24-year-old who is finishing his first full season with passable 12-11 mark and 4.24 ERA. After that? It's anybody's guess.

Chris Sale will get another crack at securing the benefit of the doubt, while Garret Whitlock and Tanner Houck will once again offer tantalizing potential. After that, it seems pretty wide open. But maybe the narrative is changing a bit.

It certainly seems Nick Pivetta has earned at least a different sort of conversation.

Making his final start of the 2023 season, Pivetta spun seven shutout innings for a second game in a row. This time the outing came in the Red Sox' 3-0 win over the Orioles at Camden Yards, allowing two hits while striking out 10 and walking just one.

Since semi-reentering the starting rotation on July 31, Pivetta has made eight starts. During the stretch he has managed a 3.26 ERA, with opponents limited to a .200 batting average and .628 OPS.

There has also been the gaudy 12.06 strikeouts-per-nine innings, putting him in the 91st percentile when it comes to strikeout rate. In other words, thirty percent of the hitters he has faced have fanned. Since that last day in July, only one starter (the Royals' Cole Ragans) has more strikeouts than Pivetta.

“Early in the season, he struggled, but he kept his head up and kept going,” Cora said. “And one thing we know, he's gonna work hard in the offseason to keep getting better. ... He should be one of the guys next year. We're talking about it. He's going to pitch important innings.”

If nothing else, Pivetta has certainly made himself some money heading into the offseason, which will be his final round of arbitration-eligibility. The righty will undoubtedly get a significant increase from the $5.350 million he made in 2023.

But, especially with free agency looming following the 2024 campaign, what figures to be much more intriguing for Pivetta is the opportunity to carry over this recent success into a starting role a six months from now.

“His stuff is getting better,” Cora said. “So, I don't see why he can’t be a starter next year.”

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