Let's call this one right now: Chaim Bloom fleeced the Phillies.
Normally, evaluating a trade deadline deal of veterans for prospects takes a couple of years, but the anguished cries of Phillies fans every time Brandon Workman takes the mound should be more than enough to declare a winner.
On Tuesday, the juxtaposition was striking. Pivetta made his Red Sox debut after flaming out in Philly and tossed five innings of one-run ball in a win over the Orioles, striking out eight. Meanwhile, a few hundred miles to the south, Phillies closer Brandon Workman continued a nightmarish run by blowing yet another save to deal his club's fading playoff hopes a potentially fatal blow.
It's truly remarkable how bad this trade already looks. On Aug. 21, the Red Sox sent Workman and right-hander Heath Hembree to the Phillies for Pivetta and right-handed prospect Connor Seabold. It was a classic rental, with Workman about to hit free agency and Hembree eminently replaceable.
The Phillies owned the worst bullpen in baseball and desperately needed to stanch the bleeding. Hembree's ability to strand runners and Workman's experience in the ninth inning were supposed to separate the Phils in a tight National League wild card race.
Instead they've imploded, and the numbers on Hembree and Workman are ghastly. The former posted a 12.54 ERA in 11 appearances, allowing a staggering seven homers in 9.1 innings before landing on the injured list with an elbow strain.
Workman, the centerpiece of the deal, has been an unmitigated disaster. His struggles during spring training 2.0 and then his 4.05 ERA in seven games with the Red Sox suggested he wasn't the guy who went 10-1, 1.88 last year, but they did nothing to prepare anyone for his woefulness in the City of Brotherly Loathe.
On Tuesday, he allowed a walkoff homer to rookie DH Yadiel Hernandez to complete a doubleheader sweep in D.C. The Phillies have now blown a league-leading 13 saves, including three by Workman, who is singlehandedly torpedoing their playoff hopes.
A year after posting the lowest batting average against in recorded history (.123), he has allowed runners to reach at an unfathomable rate, with 23 hits and nine walks in only 13 innings, good for a .383 average against. After allowing just one home run in 71.2 innings last season, he has already served up four in Philly. He's 1-4 with a 6.39 ERA, having blown both his first save opportunity in a Phillies uniform and his last.
"This obviously isn't what I was looking for when I came over here," Workman told reporters. "It wasn't what the team was looking for."
Meanwhile, Pivetta flashed the stuff that made him such an ideal change-of-scenery candidate, recording seven swings and misses on his slider and working effectively at 94 mph, a couple of ticks below where he should be once he regains arm strength. Two years after striking out over 10 batters per nine innings and three years after outdueling Chris Sale in Fenway Park, Pivetta is starting over, but there's no questioning his raw tools and potential four-pitch mix.
"Obviously my curveball wasn't really there early, so I was getting a lot of swings and misses on my slider, so you kind of just have to stick with that," he said. "You throw a pitch that they're not really making good contact on and to go with what you have that day I think is the biggest thing. What pitches are going to help you get deepest into the baseball game and give the team the best chance to win?"
As encouraging as Pivetta looked, he might not even be the best player in the deal. Seabold has impressed throughout his minor league career with command and poise, and as his velocity creeps up, he has the makings of a mid-rotation starter who is opening eyes at the alternate site in Pawtucket.
That's exactly the kind of return Bloom hoped for when he pulled the trigger, but it's doubtful that even he expected to win the trade so quickly.