Nationals 10, Red Sox 2: Martin Perez struggles while pitching through a blister


    Perez is one of the many Red Sox players with a chance to be dealt before Monday’s trade deadline.

    For most of this season, he’s looked like a nice mid-rotation starter who can chomp innings and do exactly what he was brought to Boston to do. He took a very respectable 3.45 ERA and 23-to-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio into Friday night’s game.

    “I changed the way I’d pitched from the first two innings,” he said afterward. “I have a blister on my finger, too. That was bothering me a little bit finishing my pitches, especially the breaking pitch. I think that’s what happened tonight.”

    Doubles from Victor Robles and Trea Turner were followed by big home runs from Juan Soto and Howie Kendrick to put the Red Sox in a very quick 5-0 hole in the third.

    Perez’s big mistake was falling behind 3-0 to Soto, then leaving a changeup high on the inside part of the plate. Soto doesn’t miss those. He collected his ninth homer of the season. The 21-year-old entered the game hitting .380.

    Perez was out of the game after four innings, having allowed six runs on eight hits, no walks and one strikeout. His ERA is now 4.58.

    He doesn’t expect to miss any starts due to the blister. It sounds like he doesn’t want to be traded.

    “I’ve been talking with my agent is that I feel like I’m at home,” he said. “I feel great here. I feel comfortable. I think the fans give me a lot of support too. I appreciate that. I feel good. And they trust me. They signed me here for one reason, that’s what I got, the mentality every five days to compete and do my job.”

    The 29-year-old was brought to Boston on a one-year, $6-million deal. But he has a $6.25-million option for next season, which makes it an interesting case for the Red Sox ahead of the trade deadline. If they’re looking to shed payroll off next year’s roster, it’d make sense to move Perez now. He might have some value, despite his mediocre performance this season, because every team is looking for quality innings during this pandemic-shortened season.

    But if the Sox still think he’s capable of better performance than he’s had, there’s value in bringing him back on the option next year.

    Playoffs? Yes, playoffs. We have to keep talking about the playoffs, even as the Red Sox fell to 10-22, because of this year’s format with 16 teams making the postseason. There are expected to be quite a few seven-inning double-headers in the final month of the season and anything can happen.

    But as the Sox keep losing, 1-4 over their last five games, their odds are shrinking. FanGraphs listed the Sox’ playoff odds at just 4.1% after their loss on Friday night. That gave them the fourth-worst odds in the American League, with only the Angels (3.7%), Rangers (3.5%) and Mariners (2.4%) with worse odds.

    Nathan Eovaldi is unlikely to pitch this weekend, officially with a strained calf, but one must wonder if the Sox want to keep him fresh in preparation for a potential trade.

    Without Eovaldi, whether he’s unhealthy or on the trade block, the Sox essentially have no chance to get back in the race.

    As he’s prone to do, Scherzer struck out 11 Red Sox over six strong innings, allowing just one run on a double from Rafael Devers. The Sox never looked like they were in this game and it gave us another reminder of what an ace looks like.

    Scherzer now has 55 strikeouts in 37⅓ innings. Nobody on the Red Sox has more than 33 strikeouts (Eovaldi).

    J.D. Martinez was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and is down to .205 on the season. He’s fanned 29 times in 112 at-bats and has hit three home runs.

    “We have to continue to try to do some things better,” manager Ron Roenicke said. “We’re still not swinging the bats like I know we can consistently. We’ve been better, but we did face a really good pitcher today. When that happens, you usually don’t score too much.

    “I know there are a few guys in our lineup that are disappointed with what’s going on. Hopefully we can get them on track, get them swinging, and get them being more consistent in what we do.”

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