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Nick Pivetta to the Bullpen? Red Sox Pitcher Bristles at Notion

Pivetta to the bullpen? Red Sox pitcher bristles at notion originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Red Sox have some tough decisions looming with their crowded pitching staff.

When veteran southpaw James Paxton returns from injury to make his Sox debut on Friday, the club will have seven pitchers vying for spots in the starting rotation. Paxton will join Chris Sale, Corey Kluber, Brayan Bello, Garrett Whitlock (currently on the injured list), Tanner Houck, and Nick Pivetta.

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Manager Alex Cora told WEEI the team will roll with a six-man rotation through Wednesday's series finale vs. Seattle, but that plan is temporary. A couple of pitchers are likely to be demoted to the bullpen. And while Pivetta is a prime candidate to be moved, he doesn't sound ready to embrace the new role.

The right-hander was rocked in Tuesday's 9-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves. Through four innings, he allowed seven runs on eight hits and three walks. His ERA ballooned to 6.23 through seven starts this season.

After the game, Pivetta was asked whether he currently sees his starts as auditions to stay in the rotation when decisions are made.

“I don’t really understand what you’re saying but I’m just going to continue to go out and do my job,” he answered. “I’ve started for this team my whole entire career. I’m going to continue to do that. By the end of the year, I’m going to continue to do that, then next year and the year on out.”

Pivetta's career numbers won't wow anyone, but the 30-year-old has been a solid No. 5 starter since the Red Sox acquired him from the Philadelphia Phillies in mid-2020. He posted ERAs of 4.53 and 4.56 in 2021 and 2022, respectively. Last season, he was a workhorse with a team-high 33 starts and 179 2/3 innings pitched.

This year has been a struggle, however, as he's seen his FIP jump from 4.42 to 5.83 and his hard-hit percentage rise from 45 to 51 percent.

Other options for the Red Sox if Pivetta remains a starter include sending young righty Brayan Bello down to Triple-A or moving Whitlock and/or Houck to the 'pen.

As of now, Pivetta is scheduled to make his next start on Tuesday vs. the Mariners.

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