Red Sox Announce Starting Rotation
With the baseball season less than a week away, Red Sox manager Alex Cora revealed today that right-handers Kutter Crawford and Tanner Houck will start the season in the rotation, with James Paxton, Brayan Bello, and Garrett Whitlock opening the campaign on the injured list. So how exactly will the starters line up heading into next week, and how long will that trio be out of action? Let’s take a look.
1. Corey Kluber, RHP
The Red Sox announced last week that Corey Kluber will be the club’s Opening Day starter this season. The 36-year-old right-hander pitched for the Tampa Bay Rays last year with a 10-10 record with a 4.34 ERA. Kluber has two Cy Young awards to his name, and Chaim Bloom and Co. are hoping he can catch lightning in a bottle in 2023.
2. Chris Sale, LHP
Chris Sale has obviously been battling injuries over the past couple of years, and the Red Sox will be hoping he can even partially return back to his old form this season. The left-hander was a top 10 Cy Young award finalist from 2012 to 2018. If he can remain healthy, Sale has the potential to be one of the best left-handed pitchers in the majors. But many are just hoping he can provide quality innings. He will get game two against Baltimore.
3. Tanner Houck, RHP
Tanner Houck has had a rough go of it in Spring Training. His fifth start proved to be the most difficult one, allowing eight earned runs, ten hits, 3 hit batters, all over 4 2/3 innings of work. Despite his struggles, the Red Sox have not lost faith in him – giving Houck the ball to start their third game of the season against Baltimore.
4. Kutter Crawford, RHP
The 26-year-old right-hander has impressed in Spring Training, with a 2.03 ERA with 14 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings. His strong performance made him a good candidate to start the fourth game of the season at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He showed flashes of brilliance at times last season, so they hope his well-rested arm can provide one or two quality starts to begin the year.
5. Nick Pivetta, RHP
The 30-year-old right-hander had an up-and-down season last year, with a 10-12 record with a 4.56 ERA. Pivetta has a good fastball and slider, but again, his inconsistency has been the concern since acquiring him from Philadephia in 2020. If he can show more peaks than valleys this season, the Red Sox have a solid number-five starter that will eat innings. The hope is for another 30+ start season from the Canadian righty.
Brayan Bello’s Recovery
Brayan Bello, the top Red Sox pitching prospect, suffered a forearm injury earlier in spring training. He has since returned to the mound but will miss the season opener due to his recovery taking longer than expected, as they want to give him the time to ramp up properly. Rushing him back could lead to further complications or long-term injury, so it makes sense that the team should err on the side of caution.
James Paxton’s Recovery
James Paxton, an offseason acquisition back in 2021, strained his hamstring earlier in his first spring training start. Even though the injury is not considered serious, he will not be ready for the season opener. Paxton has had a long history of injuries throughout his career, and the team is taking extra care to ensure his complete recovery. They will need him to eat innings this season and be a core part of the starting staff.
Garrett Whitlock’s Recovery
The talented righty underwent hip surgery in September 2022. He recently returned to the mound, but unfortunately, he won’t be ready for the opening series. Whitlock needs more time to gear up and get his arm back to full strength to be a starting pitcher to begin the year.
How Long Will The Trio Be Out?
All signs point to Brayan Bello, Garrett Whitlock, and James Paxton, only missing one or two trips through the rotation. Expect the trio to be on a big league bump at some point in April, which is great news. Boston also has the luxury of starting the year at home against the Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates, which makes it more palatable as they ramp up. In the end, it’s better to be safe than sorry so early in the season.