BOSTON — “From pitch one, that was electric.”
That’s how manager Alex Cora described rookie Brayan Bello’s start after watching the righty pitch 5 innings against the Blue Jays on Wednesday. Boston lost 3-2 in 10 innings here at Fenway Park.
Bello allowed two runs, six hits and one walk while striking out seven. He topped out at 98.7 mph with his four-seam fastball and recorded 13 swings-and-misses.
“Weak contact. Swings-and-misses. Four-seamers up. Changeup. He was really good,” Cora said.
The 23-year-old went 0-3 with an 8.47 ERA in his first five big league outings (three starts). But he also experienced some bad luck as he had a .475 batting average against on balls in play.
It wasn’t perfect here Wednesday. But Bello showed why Baseball America has him ranked No. 21 on its Top 100 list.
He threw 32 two-seam fastballs, averaging 96.4 mph and topping out at 97.9 mph, per Baseball Savant. His 10 four-seam fastballs averaged 97.5 mph.
He threw his changeup 16 times and recorded seven swings-and-misses with it. His changeup has the potential to be a special pitch because of its late action paired with Bello’s arm speed.
“Out of his hand, it looks like a fastball and then at the last minute, it tends to fade into one direction or the other,” Red Sox assistant GM Eddie Romero said about Bello’s changeup last year.
Cora said the action is similar on both the sinker (four swings-and-misses) and changeup, making it tough for hitters.
Bello began throwing his changeup more during the second half of his outing Wednesday. Pitching coach Dave Bush talked with him about mixing it up when he made a mound visit.
“He started using the changeup and he started using the four-seamer,” Cora said. “That strikeout to (Matt) Chapman, 0-2, four-seamer up, 97-98, swing and miss. He’s learning. He’s doing a good job. That’s a tough lineup.”
Bello is beginning to pitch more to both sides of the plate.
“Big leaguers will make adjustments and we need to go to other places and he did,” Cora said.
He attacked the strike zone, throwing 71% strikes. He recorded five ground-ball outs, including a 6-4-3 double play.
“I was attacking the hitters and I was always ahead in the count,” Bello said through translator Carlos Villoria Benítez when asked about why this start was different from his previous big league outings.
He had thrown 60% strikes in his first five big league outings.
“I’ve learned how to attack batters right now,” Bello said. “I feel like tonight was a good step forward.”
Cora said Bello will start again in five days.
“Slowly but surely he’s becoming a guy,” Cora said.