Boston Red Sox

Sep 22, 2020; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Nick Pivetta (37) pitches during the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub

From a pure pitching standpoint, with regard to 2021, the short-term challenge is both obvious and daunting. The Red Sox have to get something out of nothing or next year could look a lot like this one.

Which is to say it could be hideous.

But if we’re being fair – a novel concept, I know – let’s be honest: Chaim Bloom is off to a decent start. Roughly a week after Tanner Houck made his major league debut, Red Sox newcomer Nick Pivetta made his Boston debut last night and backed the Red Sox to an 8-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park. In three starts since the beginning of last week, Houck and Pivetta are a combined 3-0 with a 0.56 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 16 innings, though they also have nine walks.

Has it been perfect? No. But it’s been way better than the garbage the Red Sox were dumping on major league mounds in the earliest games of this makeshift season.

Said Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke after Pivetta’s outing: “You’re looking at next year and what can happen and the possibilities.”

Of course, that’s possibilities, not necessarily probabilities. But we’re starting slow. And both Houck and Pivetta and each have one start remaining this week.

Quickly, let’s touch on Pivetta, acquired from the Phillies in a trade that sent Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree to Philadelphia. He showed a live fastball and a sharp slider against the Orioles, though he appeared more effective on the first-base (glove) side of the plate than the third-base (arm) side. The first two strikeouts in this video are good examples:

Now, before anyone gets too giddy … don’t. Houck and Pivetta alone aren’t going to rescue the 2021 Red Sox, without or without Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez, each of whom remains in limbo. But that’s not the point. More than drafting and identifying talent, where Chaim Bloom and the Tampa Bay Rays excelled in recent years was in developing it.

MAZZ: Tanner Houck’s Red Sox Debut? Didn’t Hate It

Based on initial impressions, Pivetta and Houck look like they have the chance to be serviceable big-league pitchers – nothing more. (At least at this stage.) Ditto for Martin Perez, Bloom’s first notable free-agent signing. In 2020, that hasn’t meant much. But with regard to 2021, it might give the Red Sox something that suddenly has some value.

The chance to have a half-decent season.

You can hear Tony Massarotti weekdays from 2-6 p.m. EST on the Felger & Massarotti program. Follow him on Twitter @TonyMassarotti.

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