The Boston Red Sox made the collective decision not to play Thursday night’s game, joining the growing list of sports franchises taking a stand against racial injustice. One of the side effects of inserting an unexpected off day into the schedule is that it has allowed the team to reshuffle their starting rotation.
Martin Perez will take the hill against the Washington Nationals on Friday at Fenway Park. The Red Sox could have given him an extra day of rest but decided to keep him on his normal schedule in order to take advantage of the benefits of rearranging their rotation for the remainder of the series.
Perez has been the team’s best starter this season with a 3.45 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in six starts. They lefty is coming off his best outing of the season in which he held the Baltimore Orioles to one run over seven innings, only for Bostons’ bullpen to blow it in extra-innings.
Chris Mazza was expected to be activated to start Thursday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays but he’s been bumped to Saturday. The Red Sox still need to make a roster move in order to add Mazza so pushing his start back a bit gives the team more time to consider their options for who he’ll replace.
Mazza has made two appearances for the Red Sox this season, including one start. He made his team debut by tossing 2 2/3 shutout innings of relief against the New York Yankees but was shelled for four runs by the Bronx Bombers while lasting only three innings in his lone start.
Boston will wrap up their weekend series with the Nationals with Nathan Eovaldi on Sunday. The right-hander has been dealing with a minor calf cramp that scratched him from his last scheduled start on Wednesday. The reconfigured rotation for this series allows the team to be cautious with Eovaldi by giving him a few extra days to recover.
Eovaldi was expected to step into the role of staff ace in the wake of Chris Sale’s surgery and Eduardo Rodriguez’s coronavirus-related health issues. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been up to the task, sporting a disappointing 4.98 ERA through six starts.
In fairness, he has pitched better than the ERA suggests. That figure sitting just shy of the 5.00 mark is heavily inflated by an eight-run shellacking at the hands of the Yankees. Eovaldi has pitched at least five innings in every start and held his opponent to three runs or fewer in four of his six starts. He got back on track with seven innings of one-run ball against Baltimore in his last appearance.
Friday: Martin Perez vs Max ScherzerSaturday: Chris Mazza vs Anibal SanchezSunday: Nathan Eovaldi vs Austin Voth
Washington would appear to have a distinct advantage on paper, although the difference might not be as much as we would expect. Scherzer hasn’t been sharp this year, entering the game with a 4.31 ERA. He’s been tagged for nine earned runs over his last two starts so the Red Sox might be catching the three-time Cy Young Award winner at an opportune time.
Sanchez has had a very solid 15-year career but he currently owns a career-high 6.48 ERA. It could be a small sample size mirage or it could be a sign that the wheels are starting to come off for the 36-year old.
Voth has yet to spend anywhere near a full season in the big leagues. He showed some potential in spot starts last year but owns a 6.65 ERA in five starts this season. The right-hander has allowed five home runs in only 21 2/3 innings.
The defending champions sit at the bottom of the NL East with a 11-17 record, making them perhaps an even bigger disappointment than the Red Sox.
The Red Sox have lost three of their last four games but facing an under-performing pitching staff might be just what they need to get their bats going. Of course, they’ll need their own pitchers to keep them in the game but with their two best starters slated to take the mound during this series, Boston should have a fighting chance against the Nats.
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