With Sox's staff on mend, Seabold gains experience

Right-handed prospect allows 7 runs, strikes out 7 in Toronto in 2nd MLB start (1st of '22)

June 28th, 2022

TORONTO -- Despite Monday’s mishap in which Connor Seabold was belted around for three homers in a 7-2 loss to the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, the Red Sox have done more than weather a stretch in which starting pitchers Nathan Eovaldi and Garrett Whitlock have been on the injured list simultaneously.

Boston has actually come out of it nicely, winning four of six games started by prospects Josh Winckowski, Kutter Crawford and Seabold.

And it isn’t just Eovaldi (low back inflammation) and Whitlock (right hip inflammation) the Red Sox have been missing. Chris Sale hasn’t thrown a pitch in the Major Leagues this season. Neither has James Paxton. 

Yet, Boston is 19-5 in June and currently in possession of the top American League Wild Card spot, even after its seven-game winning streak came to an end in the series opener in Toronto.

And as manager Alex Cora noted after Monday’s loss, the Red Sox are about to get healthier. Whitlock threw a bullpen session prior to Monday’s game. Sale and Eovaldi have key steps in their progression coming up.

“We know they’re going to come [back],” Cora said. “The big guy [Sale] is pitching [for Double-A Portland] on Thursday. So he’s getting closer. Nate, he’s throwing a bullpen on Wednesday. This is part of 162.

“We’ve been able to do our thing with a lot of guys down, and just like other teams have done it, right? We’re comfortable with these kids coming up and pitching. We are. Today was just -- we were short in the bullpen and we had to try to get 15 outs with him. It just didn’t happen.”

Seabold got 14 outs on a night Cora stuck with him longer than he would have under normal circumstances.

But with Tanner Houck on the restricted list for these three games in Toronto and the bullpen pressed into a fair share of action of late, Cora challenged Seabold, the team’s No. 14 prospect per MLB Pipeline, to hang in there into the middle innings against one of MLB’s most dangerous lineups.

When Seabold came out for the fifth, Boston was down, 4-0, with right-hander Kevin Gausman dealing for Toronto. With two runners on and two outs, Matt Chapman put a stain on Seabold’s second career start with a towering two-run homer that put the game away for all intents and purposes.

George Springer and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. went deep earlier in the night. Home runs accounted for five of the seven runs allowed by Seabold, who also recorded seven strikeouts.

“I made too many mistakes,” Seabold said. “The first few innings, I was able to limit it for the most part. Left one out over the plate with two strikes to Vlad. Gave Springer a first-pitch cookie, but I was able to keep it toned down for the most part. Then, fifth inning, I was out of gas, started making more mistakes, and they started capitalizing on it.”

That’s life in the Major Leagues.

Seabold came over with Nick Pivetta in a deal with the Phillies at the 2020 Trade Deadline in a move that is a clear victory for the Red Sox no matter what happens from here (the acquisition cost was Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree). The right-hander also showed he has some attributes that can make him successful at the highest level.

Of the 46 pitches the Blue Jays swung at against Seabold, they whiffed at 21 of them.

“That’s a lot, right? Like I said, the fastball has some life up there,” Cora said. “There’s some good hitters on that team, and to be able to do that against them, he’s a good one. It just happened that was the first one this year against a tough team. He’s a guy that we really like."

With an off-day for the Red Sox on Thursday, Seabold might get optioned back to Triple-A Worcester, rather than getting another turn in the rotation.

Boston can go with a four-man rotation on regular rest until July 5. Perhaps by then Whitlock will be back. There’s always a chance the Red Sox could call up another pitcher. All eyes continue to be on No. 4 prospect Brayan Bello, who has been electric at Triple-A.

A confidence has developed within the Red Sox that they can compete with whichever starter takes the ball. But that is about to be tested.

Monday started a stretch in which Boston will play American League East rivals 17 times in 20 games. This after playing only five division matchups -- all against Baltimore -- in a 50-game stretch.

“Every team in this division can pitch, every team in this division can hit the ball out of the ballpark and it’s going to be a grind,” Cora said. “We’re going to be banging heads for the rest of the season, and we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing. We had expectations coming into the season to make it to the playoffs, and we’ll keep working for that.”