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Alex Cora details Red Sox’ pitching plan for Games 3 and 4

Boston
Boston
 2021-10-09

Nick Pivetta will "most likely" start Game 4, but could be used out of the bullpen in Game 3.

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Nick Pivetta is likely to start Game 4. Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

The Red Sox evened up their ALDS series Friday by winning Game 2, and now they have to put a plan in place for Game 4.

It was announced Friday that Nathan Eovaldi, who started the Wild Card Game, will get the start in Sunday’s Game 3. Nick Pivetta will “most likely” get the start in Monday’s Game 4, Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters on Saturday.

Even though Pivetta’s likely to start Game 4, he’ll also be available out of the bullpen in Game 3, Cora said. The Red Sox righty pitched 4 2/3 innings in Game 1, throwing 73 pitches in relief on Thursday. But with just two days rest between Games 1 and 3, Pivetta likely wouldn’t be able to pitch for long if his number is called on Sunday.

On the off chance that Pivetta is used in Game 3, Cora said that Eduardo Rodriguez or Chris Sale would get the start in Game 4. Both pitchers struggled in their first starts in the series, especially Sale. The southpaw only pitched one inning in Game 2, allowing five runs on four hits and a walk.

Cora also said Sale could be the team’s starter for a series-deciding Game 5, which would make more sense than him starting Game 4 due to having two extra rest days from his Game 2 start. Either way, Cora knows that Sale needs to pitch better in his next start.

“Keep working. We’ve got to work,” Cora said when asked on what the team’s doing with Sale between starts. “There’s a lot of people looking at video from now and a few years ago and all of that. He’s the first one to admit it, he needs to be better, and he’s working at it. We’ll get him right, and he’ll be ready for whenever we need him.”

One thing Cora said Sale will not do is pitch out of the bullpen, saying the team’s “not going to use him that way for health reasons” following Sale’s Tommy John surgery.

While Sale won’t be available out of the bullpen, Tanner Houck will be available out of the bullpen in Game 3. The righty pitched five innings of one-run ball in Game 2 to earn the win.

Another pair of relievers that shined in Game 2 were Ryan Brasier and Hansel Robles. Both righties tossed a perfect inning each, and both pitchers haven’t allowed an earned run in their last 12 and 17 appearances, respectively.

“Both have been amazing,” Cora said. “They made some adjustments throughout the season. I think Hansel had thrown more strikes, and he settled down. Like I said before, his stuff has always been great. It’s just a matter of throwing more strikes and then use certain pitches in certain situations.”

Brasier didn’t make his season debut until September and was briefly sent down the minors after an unimpressive stretch. Cora thinks Brasier’s back on the right track and pitching like the way he did when the Red Sox won the World Series in 2018.

“I do believe him getting sent down for one day kind of lit a fire on him,” Cora said. “He came back to prove to us that we made the wrong decision, and I’m glad that it’s going this way. He felt like his fastball wasn’t playing when we went to Chicago and went to Seattle. I do believe his fastball is good. It’s just a matter of he wasn’t able to get it to where he wanted to. That’s just part of the process, right?

“This kid is throwing the ball similar to ’18, similar to what he did last year, and I’m glad we have more weapons now. That’s the nature of the sport. That’s why I said 162 is real, and there’s certain guys that they’re going to have a great first half and they’re going to struggle, other guys are going to come in, but then at the end, as a group, I think we’re clicking at the right time bullpen-wise, and there’s a lot of guys who are throwing the ball well over there.”

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