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What comes next for Nick Pivetta?

Following an extremely rough start to the 2020 season for Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Nick Pivetta, the team optioned the right-hander to Lehigh Valley on Tuesday.

Nick Pivetta was optioned to the alternate training site on Tuesday. (Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire)

Pivetta has allowed 10 earned runs in 5 2/3 innings this year, good for a 15.88 ERA. He was removed from the major-league roster after his last appearance on Monday, where he recorded just one out and allowed six runs in relief against the Atlanta Braves.

The 27-year-old has always possessed a large deal of talent, but that talent has never consistently translated to on-field production. Still, the team feels that, despite what his recent performance has indicated, Pivetta can pitch better and has more to offer than he has shown.

“Nick has struggled,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said Tuesday to the collective media, including Phillies Nation‘s Tim Kelly and Destiny Lugardo. “He’s been OK in a couple. He struggled really mightily [Monday] night. And we don’t think that his stuff is quite right. We don’t think he’s pitching the way he’s capable of.”

It was a similar story last season for Pivetta. He came into 2019 as a sleeper pick for the National League Cy Young Award. With a quality fastball/curveball combination, he showed flashes of dominance the year prior that caught people’s attention. He helped legitimize some of the hype with an impressive spring training, and earned the start in the second game of the 2019 season.

But he struggled early last season, and the Phillies were quick to send Pivetta down to Triple-A. He would return to the big leagues near the end of May, pitching both in the rotation and out of the bullpen throughout the rest of the year. Overall, Pivetta had a 5.38 ERA in 30 appearances in 2019.

Pivetta lost the battle to Vince Velasquez for the fifth starter’s spot for the 2020 season, and began the year as a reliever. He was not sharp in his three outings, struggling to miss bats the way he did in years past and allowing at least two extra base hits and a home run in each relief appearance

With an already struggling bullpen, the Phillies could not afford to keep throwing Pivetta with how ineffective he was, prompting his demotion. Instead, he will make his way to the alternate training site in Lehigh Valley to work on his game.

His manager has his thoughts on what could help him get back to major-league form.

“I think the biggest thing that’s important for him is repetition, right?” Girardi said about Pivetta. “And being able to repeat his pitches and execute his fastball where he wants it.”

Girardi said that the current plan is for Pivetta to still be ready for a bullpen role, but acknowledged that the right-hander could possibly start at some point with the amount of doubleheaders coming up in the Phillies’ schedule.

Either way, the goal is for Pivetta to be able to help in the major leagues in just about any capacity.

“We want to get him back on track,” Girardi said, “and get him to where he’s a big contributor for us.”

Whether or not that’s feasible at this point in Pivetta’s career remains to be seen.


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