The Red Sox have had quite a bit of success with Japanese pitchers over the years, but their time with Hirokazu Sawamura ended on Sunday.
Sawamura was granted his release from the club and became a free agent.
He had had his ups and downs with the big league club this year, struggling to avoid harsh contact, despite launching one of MLB’s toughest splitters in the past two years. It was a good pitch when thrown from the right spot, but Sawamura struggled to throw strikes and was pressed too often to be considered a reliable option for the bullpen.
He was slated for assignment and granted waivers, but after an appearance with Triple-A Worcester, he requested his release so he could pursue other opportunities, according to MassLive.com.
Sawamura was signed at 33 out of Japan ahead of the 2021 season. He was paid $1.2 million in 21 and 22, making it a bargain after posting a 2.82 out of 10 ERA years playing professionally in Japan.
He was often used in strikeout situations last year because his splitter generated enough flushes to make him effective. But his strikeout rate has gone from 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings to 7.1 this year.
Over two seasons in Boston, Sawamura finished with a 3.39 ERA and 1.44 WHIP to go with 101 strikeouts and 59 walks in 103 2/3 innings.
Lefty Austin Davis, who was designated for a same-day assignment as Sawamura last week, also got free agency on Sunday. He was claimed by the Twins but quickly waived by Minnesota.
Big day for Pham
Left fielder Tommy Pham had an eventful day on Sunday.
He returned from a shin injury and made a spectacular wall-running catch in the Sox’s 1-0 win over the Orioles.
He also scored the game’s only run after an opening single, eventually scoring on a sacrificial fly by Xander Bogaerts.
Pham, 34, has looked like a great pick-up since the Sox added him at the trade deadline, but it was too little, too late.
He scored 25 points in 35 games while hitting .270 and operating as a point guard since joining the Sox.
Interviewed on NESN after the game, Pham said he was disappointed not to be on base as often as he would like, but the Sox will be desperate for outfield players next year and may want to shed an eye to Pham as a fourth or fifth outfielder.
Pham also made an interesting point about Camden Yards, which moved the left field wall back 26 1/2 feet.
“It’s not normal because when you run that far it feels like you’ve been running for days,” he told NESN. “We’ve seen a lot of different balls hitting 106mph, 107mph, with a specific launch angle that don’t go out of park. This park is different now.
Rafael Devers made a sensational diving save to deny Ryan McKenna an RBI single in the seventh inning. Rougned Odor reached a shot-for-shot and advanced to second on a Matt Strahm denial, but Devers was playing in the dirt and dove to his left to prevent the ball from going past him and Odor from scoring the tying point…
Matt Barnes recorded the save in the ninth and has looked like a new pitcher since returning from the injured list Aug. 4. 95 mph, down from previous years…
The Red Sox scored 55 points in 10 games in September, second in MLB at that time, although 17 of those points came on Saturday night.