2023 Starting Rotation

Fishy1

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I don't agree on Casas not making adjustments. His swing looks much different this year than last. He young and struggling with the learning curve. Just give him time. He has the tools to succeed at this level.
Yeah, poor phrasing on my part. I think his batting average so far is almost entirely bad luck. Barrel rate is great, ld% was the last time I checked. And his approach is obviously great. We're entirely in agreement.

Anyway, hoping Pivetta gets bumped to the pen after Paxton has a good start. The guy is just not good. He's had success as a reliever and one more reliable big-leaguer reliever would go a long ways. And if someone goes down in the next couple weeks he'll still be stretched out.
 

JM3

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Yeah, poor phrasing on my part. I think his batting average so far is almost entirely bad luck. Barrel rate is great, ld% was the last time I checked. And his approach is obviously great. We're entirely in agreement.

Anyway, hoping Pivetta gets bumped to the pen after Paxton has a good start. The guy is just not good. He's had success as a reliever and one more reliable big-leaguer reliever would go a long ways. And if someone goes down in the next couple weeks he'll still be stretched out.
"Success as a reliever" is a bit strong. In his regular season career he has 32.1 relief innings with a 6.12 ERA (as opposed to a 5.02 ERA as a starter).

I assume the success you're referring to is literally the one game against the Rays in the '21 ALDS.

He pitched 4.2 innings in relief in games 1 that series & allowed 3 runs, including 2 homers.

& then of course he pitched the 10th to 13th innings in the game 3 win, striking out 7 in those 4 innings. Which was a great & memorable game. But not really proof of concept that Pivetta would actually be a good reliever.

If he has a good attitude about it & makes the necessary adjustments, it's certainly possible. But extrapolating that he will be a good relief pitcher based on that one 4 inning sample, is a big leap.
 

Fishy1

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"Success as a reliever" is a bit strong. In his regular season career he has 32.1 relief innings with a 6.12 ERA (as opposed to a 5.02 ERA as a starter).

I assume the success you're referring to is literally the one game against the Rays in the '21 ALDS.

He pitched 4.2 innings in relief in games 1 that series & allowed 3 runs, including 2 homers.

& then of course he pitched the 10th to 13th innings in the game 3 win, striking out 7 in those 4 innings. Which was a great & memorable game. But not really proof of concept that Pivetta would actually be a good reliever.

If he has a good attitude about it & makes the necessary adjustments, it's certainly possible. But extrapolating that he will be a good relief pitcher based on that one 4 inning sample, is a big leap.
Man, I'm on a roll. Thanks for actually doing the due diligence... I retract my Pivetta defense and will take a break from Pivetta posting
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Man, I'm on a roll. Thanks for actually doing the due diligence... I retract my Pivetta defense and will take a break from Pivetta posting
Also a guilty Pivetta defender- based off his ability to throw lots of innings AND what I perceived as an either likely injured (Sale, Whitlock, Paxton) or innings capped (Bello, Houck) or possible ineffectiveness (Kluber). I assumed he'd at least be able to deliver consistent 4.50 ERA 5-6 IP per game. Average. That's tremendously valuable in a rotation with lots of question marks.
BUT... he's not providing that league average starter stuff. I do think he should be given a few more times (3?) to see if he can do that but it's definitely getting time to just cut bait with him. I'm feeling confident that Sale is healthy and looking with Bello as a very good 1,2 combo and the remaining guys (Paxton, Kluber, Whitlock, Houck, Crawford, Winchowski) will be able to cover the opening that Pivetta's strengths (again... not showing up in '23) would offer.
 

nvalvo

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So are we all fine with Kluber now?
Hard to say. I think I'm sort of in a wait-and-see mode.

First four starts: 4.5 IP/game, 7.42 FIP, 8 BB, 17 K, .925 OPSa on a .260 BABIP. 8.50 ERA.
Subsequent three starts: 5.4 IP/game, 5.27 FIP, 4 BB, 11 K, .749 OPSa on a .269 BABIP. 3.86 ERA.

That latter split is still not exactly what anyone would call good, but I can understand wanting to see where this trend might lead.
 

Yaz Fan 4 Life

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First post ever for me. I was just wondering if given Pivetta’s adversity to moving to the pen if it might not be a good idea to see if he could be moved for a relief pitcher. Not sure he would return much but might return something. Maybe there is a team out there that is looking for a fringe 5th starter type that has a bullpen piece to trade? Just a thought.
 

Rovin Romine

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Hard to say. I think I'm sort of in a wait-and-see mode.

First four starts: 4.5 IP/game, 7.42 FIP, 8 BB, 17 K, .925 OPSa on a .260 BABIP. 8.50 ERA.
Subsequent three starts: 5.4 IP/game, 5.27 FIP, 4 BB, 11 K, .749 OPSa on a .269 BABIP. 3.86 ERA.

That latter split is still not exactly what anyone would call good, but I can understand wanting to see where this trend might lead.
I had wanted to look up the most recent starts for our motley crew of starters and see if there were any encouraging signs. One down, thanks to you, 6 to go. . .
 
I had wanted to look up the most recent starts for our motley crew of starters and see if there were any encouraging signs. One down, thanks to you, 6 to go. . .
Chris Sale is looking OK and has generally been on an upward trend aside from his bizarre start against Baltimore where he somehow struck out nobody in 5 innings.

Houck is a mixed bag. His FIP is trending better but he's been hit hard recently. His statcast page is a little weird. He is giving up a lot of hard contact, but his barrel rate is actually pretty good. Not sure what to make of that.

Bello has definitely been improving, and his main problem at the moment is gopheritis. Bello has basically the same problem as Houck -- he's giving up very hard contact despite having a pretty good barrel rate.

Kluber's improvement isn't a total surprise -- throughout his career he's been a bit of a slow starter.

Pivetta appears to be falling apart -- terrible in his last 3 starts and getting worse in each one.
 

Rovin Romine

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I suspect they will listen to offers for Pivetta but the return will probably be too low to justify moving him. Also this:

https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.fcgi?id=pivetni01&t=p&year=2022

Look at those box scores in May and June of last year. He was *sensational* over a pretty decent length of time. In that complete game he two-hit the Astros! His insistence on being a starter isn't coming from nowhere.
He had a run of 11 very good starts. . .which I think is a bit much to attribute to luck. Then he hit a wall with 3 very bad starts in July. After that he was a bit of a mixed bag, but there are no obvious patterns for good or bad stretches.

Has anyone ever done a drill-down on his hot stretch? Was there anything different about it? I know control comes and goes sometimes, but it would be interesting if we could identify something that he was doing. Or something that happened when he stopped doing it.
 

Rovin Romine

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Chris Sale is looking OK and has generally been on an upward trend aside from his bizarre start against Baltimore where he somehow struck out nobody in 5 innings.

Houck is a mixed bag. His FIP is trending better but he's been hit hard recently. His statcast page is a little weird. He is giving up a lot of hard contact, but his barrel rate is actually pretty good. Not sure what to make of that.

Bello has definitely been improving, and his main problem at the moment is gopheritis. Bello has basically the same problem as Houck -- he's giving up very hard contact despite having a pretty good barrel rate.

Kluber's improvement isn't a total surprise -- throughout his career he's been a bit of a slow starter.

Pivetta appears to be falling apart -- terrible in his last 3 starts and getting worse in each one.
Thank you. Let's hope Paxton's return has us arguing over which of these guys should be sent to he pen.

I think in terms of upside, Sale, Paxton, Bello, Houck and Whitlock have the highest, assuming various issues among them get addressed. Kluber and Pivetta probably have a lower ceiling at this point. If they turned in league average performances, they may have an edge in terms of durability/innings pitched. It's a puzzle.
 

Fishy1

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Thank you. Let's hope Paxton's return has us arguing over which of these guys should be sent to he pen.

I think in terms of upside, Sale, Paxton, Bello, Houck and Whitlock have the highest, assuming various issues among them get addressed. Kluber and Pivetta probably have a lower ceiling at this point. If they turned in league average performances, they may have an edge in terms of durability/innings pitched. It's a puzzle.
One thing that leaps out looking at that stretch last year is the BBs and the HRs (unsurpisingly). In all of May he only gave up two home runs and walked 6 people, whereas he doubled that count in each of the surrounding months. He was still good in June.

64688

I suppose part of what has always been so tantalizing about Pivetta is the strikeout rate. If he could just walk fewer people, and give up fewer home runs, he'd be a good pitcher... but he never really does that for very long.

That's maybe not a deep-dive, but if I had to guess, with his fastball being about as straight as the roads in Texas, losing control over it and his curveball is pretty much deadly for him.
 

RS2004foreever

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Houck seems to really struggle the third time through. His ERA is nearly 16 when he gets there.
Bello has only pitched two innings, but is nearly 19 third time through.

It would be really good if at least Bello didn't have a 5 inning ceiling (like maybe Houck does). Hopefully Paxton can at least get to the 6th.

Misleading factoid of the day:
Pivetta FIP: 5.79
Brasier FIP: 4.21
 

chrisfont9

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One thing that leaps out looking at that stretch last year is the BBs and the HRs (unsurpisingly). In all of May he only gave up two home runs and walked 6 people, whereas he doubled that count in each of the surrounding months. He was still good in June.

View attachment 64688

I suppose part of what has always been so tantalizing about Pivetta is the strikeout rate. If he could just walk fewer people, and give up fewer home runs, he'd be a good pitcher... but he never really does that for very long.

That's maybe not a deep-dive, but if I had to guess, with his fastball being about as straight as the roads in Texas, losing control over it and his curveball is pretty much deadly for him.
I don't know where to get such fine detail but there was some way in which his stuff was playing up, and it probably had to do with command. So why does a guy have this level of command for such a long stretch and then no? Fatigue or injury? Mechanics? as Rovin said, it doesn't seem like luck.

First post ever for me. I was just wondering if given Pivetta’s adversity to moving to the pen if it might not be a good idea to see if he could be moved for a relief pitcher. Not sure he would return much but might return something. Maybe there is a team out there that is looking for a fringe 5th starter type that has a bullpen piece to trade? Just a thought.
First post! Cool. The problem is you're selling low, on a guy who is cheap for another year. But maybe? His ceiling isn't high enough to stress about losing him I don't think. Bloom won't rush into anything though, in part because we need to see a few guys stay healthy before we are sure he's expendable long term.
 
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Red(s)HawksFan

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Houck seems to really struggle the third time through. His ERA is nearly 16 when he gets there.
Bello has only pitched two innings, but is nearly 19 third time through.

It would be really good if at least Bello didn't have a 5 inning ceiling (like maybe Houck does). Hopefully Paxton can at least get to the 6th.
Worth putting the innings numbers in context a bit. Right now, league average for innings per start is just a hair under five and a third innings per start (5.2) with the Twins having the highest innings per start at 5.7. Between pitch count limits and deeper bullpens, the standard seems to be pitching into the sixth inning is enough to be an effective starting pitcher.
 

RS2004foreever

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Worth putting the innings numbers in context a bit. Right now, league average for innings per start is just a hair under five and a third innings per start (5.2) with the Twins having the highest innings per start at 5.7. Between pitch count limits and deeper bullpens, the standard seems to be pitching into the sixth inning is enough to be an effective starting pitcher.
To your point, I looked at some of the Rays
Rasmussen: 15.88 (His ERA is under 1 the first two times through)
But McClanahan: .79 (in 11 innings)
Eflin: 1.23

Small samples sizes obviously.
 

Bob Montgomerys Helmet Hat

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Pivetta appears to be falling apart -- terrible in his last 3 starts and getting worse in each one.
I'm not a strong Pivetta supporter, but for accuracy, two starts ago against Toronto wasn't terrible at all.
6 IP, 5H, 3ER, 1 BB, 6K
If he could give us that every start, he'd be just fine
 

Apisith

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This series has been incredibly frustrating but Paxton throwing 98mph and Sale giving 8 vintage innings (same bat-missing stuff, velocity) is up there with the most positive developments of the season. We are going to win a lot of games.
 

Lose Remerswaal

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This series has been incredibly frustrating but Paxton throwing 98mph and Sale giving 8 vintage innings (same bat-missing stuff, velocity) is up there with the most positive developments of the season. We are going to win a lot of games.
If they get rid of the pitch clock and/or change to eight inning games to speed things up we can’t be stopped.
 

Merkle's Boner

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This series has been incredibly frustrating but Paxton throwing 98mph and Sale giving 8 vintage innings (same bat-missing stuff, velocity) is up there with the most positive developments of the season. We are going to win a lot of games.
Yes, that’s the story of this weekend. I’m still in Show Me mode with Paxton, but Sale is looking damn good. Sale, Bello, and a Paxton like we saw on Friday is a damn good 3 man rotation.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Kluber. How many more starts does he get? That was just awful! Hope I’m not game-threading but despite the previous two games disasters…. Pretty big positives came out of them…. Tonight felt two steps back and…. Uh….. yeah..
 

Merkle's Boner

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Kluber. How many more starts does he get? That was just awful! Hope I’m not game-threading but despite the previous two games disasters…. Pretty big positives came out of them…. Tonight felt two steps back and…. Uh….. yeah..
I would hope the team is waiting to see if Paxton is the real deal and if so they cut bait with Kluber. My hope for the rotation a month from now:
Sale
Paxton
Bello
Whitlock
Pivetta or Houck
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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The amount of HR the rotation is giving up is staggering

Sale 43.3 IP, 6 HR
Kluber 39.3 IP, 11 HR
Houck 37.7 IP, 4 HR
Pivetta 34.7 IP, 8 HR
Bello 23.3 IP, 5 HR
Whitlock 16.0 IP, 4 HR
Crawford 9.0 IP, 3 HR
Paxton 5.0 IP, 1 HR

208.3 IP, 42 HR. 1.8 HR/9.
 

Benj4ever

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Yes, that’s the story of this weekend. I’m still in Show Me mode with Paxton, but Sale is looking damn good. Sale, Bello, and a Paxton like we saw on Friday is a damn good 3 man rotation.
After as long as he'd been out, Paxton's performance was unbelievable. I wasn't a fan of the pick-up, but I'm ready to change my mind really soon.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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After as long as he'd been out, Paxton's performance was unbelievable. I wasn't a fan of the pick-up, but I'm ready to change my mind really soon.
I think at least part of it was that he really had a full rehab period. His pitch counts were 58, 70, 43 (relief appearance), 82, 90, 96. He arguably had a more full spring training, in terms of ramping up, than the guys who broke camp in the rotation had. They didn't activate him as soon as he got to "close enough" with his pitch counts. They gave him a couple more starts to really ensure he was ready to roll. Just as a contrast, Garrett Whitlock's two minor league rehab starts before he made his season debut featured pitch counts of 75 and 81.
 

Sin Duda

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I guess we can all agree that Houck belongs in the pen as a long man. OPS 1st time thru the order: .368. 2nd time: .868. 3rd time: .967. Homers go up and strikeouts go down.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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I guess we can all agree that Houck belongs in the pen as a long man. OPS 1st time thru the order: .368. 2nd time: .868. 3rd time: .967. Homers go up and strikeouts go down.
Really seems about time to make it official.
When’s Crawford and Whitlock back?
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Crawford back this Friday according to Sox official website. Whitlock back in two weeks.

A lot hinges on if Paxton can continue to pitch as well as he looked the other day. Assuming he can..... I'd go:
Sale, Bello and Paxton as the top three with standard bullpen usage behind them (when is Joely expected?).
Then have Pivetta with Crawford behind him after 4 innings (although Pivetta's problem isn't just "second/third time through")
Then have Kluber with Houck behind him after 4 or 5 innings (same issue with Kluber though).

It all really comes down to the performance of your top rotation guys-
Sale (including his Baltimore shit show) over his last 5 starts has averaged more than 6 innings per start with a 2.75 ERA (11 runs in 31 innings)
Bello over his last 4 has a 2.65 ERA averaging just under 6 innings per start
Paxton (just one game) went 5 innings with 2 runs allowed.

Need more innings out of Bello and Paxton... and Sale always has- covered numerous times here- concerns over a full season. Lots of IF's but a top three that can basically give you that on a nightly basis can cover the lower half of the rotation used with good long relief guys that can give 3-4 innings.

I'm still optimistic.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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Joely was activated yesterday.

Assuming Crawford and Whitlock ultimately replace whomever is called up today (Garza and Ort?)

Sale, Bello, Paxton, Whitlock, Kluber
Pivetta, Crawford, Houck, Winck, Rodriguez, Bleier, Martin, Jansen
 

TheYellowDart5

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Pivetta and Houck are essentially the same pitcher: plus stuff that gets undermined by poor command. Both would probably make better multi-inning relievers at this point, especially with the bullpen losing bodies left and right. Pick one to send there and go forward with Sale-Paxton-Bello-Kluber-Houck/Pivetta for as long as you can with the ultimate goal of (if everyone can be healthy at once) Sale-Paxton-Whitlock-Bello-[TBD] — maybe that last one is a Hydra of Crawford, Houck and Pivetta.
 

Lose Remerswaal

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With Thursday off, any idea of the rotation for Sunday @ S.D., and Monday and Tuesday @ Anaheim? We are going to all three games (doghouse for me, but fuck it), and I am hoping for Sale, Paxton and Bello, but I am expecting Pivetta, Houck, and a bullpen game.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Pivetta was decent last night…. If Duran makes that catch (it would’ve been impressive) he’s looking quite a lot better. I’d still start him and have Houck come in at the first sign of trouble
 

donutogre

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Pivetta was decent last night…. If Duran makes that catch (it would’ve been impressive) he’s looking quite a lot better. I’d still start him and have Houck come in at the first sign of trouble
Was he? 10 baserunners in 5 1/3 innings is a pretty low bar (though good point about that Duran catch).
 

Benj4ever

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Pivetta and Houck are essentially the same pitcher: plus stuff that gets undermined by poor command. Both would probably make better multi-inning relievers at this point, especially with the bullpen losing bodies left and right. Pick one to send there and go forward with Sale-Paxton-Bello-Kluber-Houck/Pivetta for as long as you can with the ultimate goal of (if everyone can be healthy at once) Sale-Paxton-Whitlock-Bello-[TBD] — maybe that last one is a Hydra of Crawford, Houck and Pivetta.
I think Crawford is the most deserving of the three. I'd really like to see Houck as closer again. And if Jansen gets injured...well, no reason to speculate at this point.
 

chawson

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Decent is decent. Get 4 innings out of him on a regular turn
Why hold on so tightly to Pivetta? His primary virtue is the volume of (supposed) league-average innings he can give a staff. Using him like this defeats the purpose, and it's not like he's any better the first time through the order. We only have him through 2024, so it's not like there's any upside to be wrung.

Sale, Bello, Paxton, Houck and Whitlock with Crawford as a SP6/swingman and Drohan as a potential call-up is a pretty good staff. I think we’ll find our way to that.
 

Benj4ever

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I think at least part of it was that he really had a full rehab period. His pitch counts were 58, 70, 43 (relief appearance), 82, 90, 96. He arguably had a more full spring training, in terms of ramping up, than the guys who broke camp in the rotation had. They didn't activate him as soon as he got to "close enough" with his pitch counts. They gave him a couple more starts to really ensure he was ready to roll. Just as a contrast, Garrett Whitlock's two minor league rehab starts before he made his season debut featured pitch counts of 75 and 81.
Not really what I was getting at. The guy basically hadn't pitched in the majors since 2020. To be that sharp after that long of a hiatus is incredible.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Why hold on so tightly to Pivetta? His primary virtue is the volume of (supposed) league-average innings he can give a staff. Using him like this defeats the purpose, and it's not like he's any better the first time through the order. We only have him through 2024, so it's not like there's any upside to be wrung.

Sale, Bello, Paxton, Houck and Whitlock with Crawford as a SP6/swingman and Drohan as a potential call-up is a pretty good staff. I think we’ll find our way to that.
Drohan has been great but I really don't think he should be in the conversation at this point. Otherwise.... Sale (tends to be injured), Bello (young), Houck (should only pitch 4 innings), Whitlock (tends to be injured, hasn't really shown to be a great starter yet), Crawford (same as Whitlock)..... you've got insurance for those guys. He's not going to be bring back much in return and the Sox shouldn't be making assumptions about a 5 man rotation being healthy that doesn't include Pivetta in it. If you have him managed carefully with Houck, you can probably cobble together a good time through the rotation once every 5th time for them.
 

Benj4ever

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Drohan has been great but I really don't think he should be in the conversation at this point. Otherwise.... Sale (tends to be injured), Bello (young), Houck (should only pitch 4 innings), Whitlock (tends to be injured, hasn't really shown to be a great starter yet), Crawford (same as Whitlock)..... you've got insurance for those guys. He's not going to be bring back much in return and the Sox shouldn't be making assumptions about a 5 man rotation being healthy that doesn't include Pivetta in it. If you have him managed carefully with Houck, you can probably cobble together a good time through the rotation once every 5th time for them.
I think the point is that if you want an insurance policy, you want someone better than Pivetta.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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I think the point is that if you want an insurance policy, you want someone better than Pivetta.
I got the point.... it's sharp! And I agree.... but who is that? All the names that Chawson put out there will be needing an insurance policy. Who else is available? I'm not being snarky, but I don't think anyone really is a better insurance policy. Keeping Pivetta on the team and starting and carefully managing him with those guys behind him makes the most sense to me. If you want to flip Houck and have Pivetta come in after him... I think that'd be fine but it doesn't strike me as a gain or a loss either way.
Obviously the ideal is to have Sale, Bello and Paxton be a great and consistent 1-3 all season long and into the playoffs with Houck and Whitlock being able to average 5-6 innings per start and not be injured or ineffective after 3-4 innings. Neither has done that. Crawford doesn't really have a track record as a starter either..... and also has been dealing with injuries since last season. Drohan shouldn't be in the conversation at this point. Kluber isn't doing much more.
 

Rovin Romine

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I think the point is that if you want an insurance policy, you want someone better than Pivetta.
But then you'd be starting that pitcher, basically. And if you weren't (meaning they're in the pen) you'd have to stretch them out to start. Unless they were at AAA, but there, you'd call them up if they were effective starters at the ML level.

***

Right now Sale, Bello, Paxton appear to be locks for the rotation based on performance so far, dedicated role, and upside.

Filling out the final 2 or 3 spots are 4 pitchers: Houck, Whitlock, Pivetta, Kluber. They're all stretched out to start. Whitlock appears to be headed for the rotation which leaves Houck, Pivetta, and Kluber. Of them, on the basis of stuff/pitching history/routine, I'd guess Kluber does not work out in a bullpen role. (But who knows?)

"Emergency Depth" or insurance policy depth would include Winckowski and Crawford, who are not currently stretched out. It would also include Mata/Murphy, et al. in the minors, who are stretched out as starters but not doing great. It seems there's nothing immediately available in that group.

***

Personally I think that trading one of Pivetta/Kluber for a reliever might be something to explore. I don't know if that trade is out there or not. Ideally you'd want to keep the better one. Kluber's at the end of his career (37) has a club option for next year and is being paid $10M. Pivetta is 30, is being paid $5M and has one year of arb left before he's a free agent.
 

JM3

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Houck opener followed by some reliever finishing the inning the 1st time Houck allows a baserunner starting in the 4th inning, followed by Crawford seems like a thing that should be a thing.

Sale
Bello
Whitlock
Paxton
Houck/Crawford

I think that's their best rotation assuming health etc.

But it does leave them perilously thin since neither Kluber or Pivetta seem like great relief options. I think I prioritize the more talent & the future but idk?

The problem with "managing" Pivetta isn't good any of the times through the rotation...

1st: 7.36 ERA
2nd: 6.06 ERA
3rd: 5.00 ERA

It seems like the only real chance he gets better would be to try to completely change his usage & see what happens if he goes all out for an inning or two, but that doesn't help either because he's no longer stretched out & you lose your deep depth options.