The Red Sox expressed interest in Justin Garza, the righty who they just claimed off waivers from the Angels, during free agency this past offseason.
“He was a guy we talked about in the wintertime,” pitching coach Dave Bush said. “He ended up signing with LA. But he was a guy who we were interested in before. We like his stuff. Glad to have him now. Again, we tried to sign him before.”
The Angels signed Garza to a one-year split contract in December. The 29-year-old pitched in six games for Triple-A Salt Lake (8 ⅓ innings, four runs) before Los Angeles designated him for assignment April 21. Boston optioned him to Triple-A Worcester after claiming him.
Garza’s only experience in the major leagues came in 2021 when he made 21 appearances out of Cleveland’s bullpen. He posted a 4.71 ERA, 1.57 WHIP and .250 batting average against in 28 ⅔ innings. He struck out 29 and walked 18. He allowed 27 hits.
“There’s some things we really like about his stuff,” Bush said. “We’re looking forward to having him in Worcester right away and then maybe make some adjustments but mostly get him back on the mound and see how he can do.”
Garza throws his sinker and cutter most often. He also mixes in a four-seam fastball, changeup and slider. He averaged 94.8 mph with his sinker last year, per Baseball Savant. Opponents were 12-for-54 (.222 batting average) against the pitch, which has decent spin.
Boston’s other recent addition
Brennan Bernardino, a 31-year-old lefty, has allowed just one unearned run in 5 strong innings since Boston claimed him from the Mariners on April 16. He has no walks and four strikeouts.
“He’s been great,” Bush said. “He’s come in throwing strikes. Very confident in his ability to do that. We like the stuff. There’s some things we’re going to work on that we think can also continue to improve. But mostly, he’s come in with a good attitude and a willingness to attack the strike zone. We’ve put him out there right away in some high-leverage spots. He’s handled it very well. He’s been very calm. Calm and confident and trusting in his stuff. It’s a message you send to everybody but he’s showing it right away.”