2024 Rotation and Bullpen

Rovin Romine

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With the impactful signing Cooper Criswell, I thought I'd kick off the yearly thread to look at the pros and cons of what we actually have for the Pitching Staff.

Sure, we might add or trade guys, but please keep trade speculation and "how I would run the club in the long term" posts to the many other threads we have for that.

Anyway:

Starting Rotation as of today:

Sale (LHP) (lock)​
Bello (lock)​
Pivetta (lockish)​
Houck​
Crawford​
Depth: Whitlock, Winckowski, Murphy, Walter.​



Bullpen as of today: This is the 40 man, with * indicating options (per fangraphs):

Jansen​
Martin​
Maurico Llovera​
Justin Slaten (Rule 5)​
Isaiah Campbell* (traded from SEA)​
Schreiber*​
Bernardino (LHP)*​
plus:​
2 or more of: Houck*/Whitlock/Crawford*/Winckowski*​
Which gives us 9 arms (3 without options and one Rule 5.)
Also on the 40-man:​
Brandon Walter (LHP)*​
Zack Weiss*​
Greg Weissert*​
Bryan Mata*​
Chris Murphy (LHP)*​
Cooper Criswell*​
Joe Jacques (LHP)*​
Zack Kelly*​

1) How effective does this staff look to you? Particularly in terms of depth?

I'm thinking it looks pretty full. . .and I'm not sure what the point of adding a yet another pitcher like Criswell is, assuming they have to be kept on the 40.

2) Assuming there are no trades, which of the Houck/Whitlock/Winckowski/Crawford group should start?

I'm thinking Houck and a stretched out Crawford.

3) Obvious holes?

Same as last year - quality innings out of the starting pitching. The depth might also be somewhat illusory if, say, Whitlock and Winckowski are not stretched out as starters and are then pressed into that role if someone gets injured.





(I say again. . .this is a thread is for what we have in hand, not for speculating on what you personally want the Sox to acquire. We might spot an obvious strength or weakness in the staff or something, and it's fair game to identify that, or which pitcher might be the lowest on the totem pole. But solutions, beyond the categorical, are not our concern here.)
 
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TheYellowDart5

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They need way more starting pitching depth and ideally more relief depth too — keep adding arms and see what shakes out. That starting five would probably be bottom five in the majors.
 

Rovin Romine

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Slaten doesn't need a ? next to rule 5, that's for sure his status.
Updated.

(We'll reboot the list with trades and so forth, but it's useful to see what's happening now - what the constraints are.)


They need way more starting pitching depth and ideally more relief depth too — keep adding arms and see what shakes out. That starting five would probably be bottom five in the majors.
In one sense, sure. But how many marginal project arms do you want on the 40 man? Or does Breslow believe they're all going to stick? Or be developed in the next year or so?
 

Max Power

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It seems like they just need to sort out the rotation and the bullpen will take care of itself. Whoever of Winckowski, Crawford, Pivetta, Houck, and Whitlock don't end up in the rotation will be valuable pieces out of the pen.
 

YTF

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The accumulation of arms that need to be rostered means someone is going. That may be via trade or via cut, but there's likey to be at the very least two of these guys who that aren't on the 40 man in the not too distant future.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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As far as depth goes, I think it's a bit too much (a statement on quantity much more than quality). 24 pitchers on the 40-man is a bit imbalanced. I understand why the thread was made, but it might be a bit premature given there will likely be a bunch more changes to the roster in the next couple months.

However, in the spirit of the thread, based on who is currently in house:

Rotation:
Bello
Sale
Pivetta
Houck
Whitlock/Crawford (flip a coin)

Bullpen:
Jansen
Martin
Schreiber
Bernardino
Winckowski
Crawford/Whitlock (whoever is not starting)
Llovera
Slaten

The rest begin the season in Worcester/Portland or in some other org. Plenty of room to improve, but also plenty of flexibility already in place.
 

Rovin Romine

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I understand why the thread was made, but it might be a bit premature given there will likely be a bunch more changes to the roster in the next couple months.
I hope there will be. I also hope this thread will help us track those changes.

FWIW, I wasn't really listing the rotation/bullpen candidates by expected effectiveness, so much as stickiness on the ML roster. You can option some guys without losing them, and others you can't. I'm mildly surprised (and disappointed) to find Llovera is out of options.
 

YTF

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I hope there will be. I also hope this thread will help us track those changes.

FWIW, I wasn't really listing the rotation/bullpen candidates by expected effectiveness, so much as stickiness on the ML roster. You can option some guys without losing them, and others you can't. I'm mildly surprised (and disappointed) to find Llovera is out of options.
Oh, there's an option. ;)
 

simplicio

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I assume we're trading from this group as plan A, given that it's already pretty full and we still desperately need to add names to the top of that list. If we can get anything at all for Llovera I'd like to see him be first out the door.

Criswell has been stretched out as a starter before (he was starting in AAA last year), and I'm kind of assuming they'll do that with him again. More starting depth hanging around in Worcester is never a bad thing.
 

Rovin Romine

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I assume we're trading from this group as plan A, given that it's already pretty full and we still desperately need to add names to the top of that list. If we can get anything at all for Llovera I'd like to see him be first out the door.

Criswell has been stretched out as a starter before (he was starting in AAA last year), and I'm kind of assuming they'll do that with him again. More starting depth hanging around in Worcester is never a bad thing.
I'd assume they'd keep Crawford and Winckowski on the ML roster instead of starting them at AAA.

So our AAA starting depth (that could potentially not implode in a ML callup) would be what?

Murphy​
Walter
Criswell​
Fitts (not on the 40 man)​
With Wikelman at AA?​
 

simplicio

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My best guess at how things look if nobody significant is traded:

Rotation:
FA 1
FA 2
Bello
Sale
Pivetta

Pen:
Jansen
Martin
Houck
Whitlock
Bernardino
Schreiber
Mata/Campbell (Mata doesn't have options so if he can survive getting traded/cut he's here)
Slaten


40 man guys in AAA:
Rotation:
Winckowski
Crawford
Criswell
Murphy
Walter
Hopefully Gonzalez by midseason

Pen:
Perales
Kelly
Jacques
Weissert
Weiss

Gone (or just passed through waivers):
Llovera


Winck/Crawford being starters in Worcester seems risky, but that's one Sale away from a call-up.

If we only end up with one new starter (blech) I think Crawford takes the 5th spot in the rotation
 

E5 Yaz

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Maybe it's just me, but this thread seems really premature this early in free agency.
We had a whole slew of threads started in August about what the team would look like in 2024. I think we can handle this one
 

TheYellowDart5

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In one sense, sure. But how many marginal project arms do you want on the 40 man? Or does Breslow believe they're all going to stick? Or be developed in the next year or so?
Sorry, should've been more clear: the depth sucks *and* the top end sucks. Both would be improved by adding at least two good free-agent starters. More marginal arms solves nothing.
 

BringBackMo

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Rotation:
FA 1
FA 2
Bello
Sale
Pivetta

Pen:
Jansen
Martin
Houck
Whitlock
Bernardino
Schreiber
Mata/Campbell (Mata doesn't have options so if he can survive getting traded/cut he's here)
Slaten
One thing this post really crystallizes is the follow-on effect if the Sox are able to sign two good FA starters. That is an insane bullpen right there. And it doesn't even account for Winck...whom I demand be placed in Boston.
 

BringBackMo

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Also, I just can't quit Whitlock. It's illogical. I don't care. The potential remains tantalizing. Let's start the season with him in the rotation and Crawford--who deserves better than such treatment!--in the pen as the bulk reliever.
 

Rovin Romine

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One thing this post really crystallizes is the follow-on effect if the Sox are able to sign two good FA starters. That is an insane bullpen right there. And it doesn't even account for Winck...whom I demand be placed in Boston.
It also illustrates how tight the pitching side of the org can become with just two acquisitions. It will be interesting to see what Breslow does, given the 40 man tensions and the equitable use tensions.

I mean, I don't know how you tell Winckowski that he's going to AAA. He gave us 84 innings of 2.88 ERA ball last year. That sort of unfairness is not something you want to cultivate in an organization. Pitch your heart out kid - and we'll stick a knife in it. So he's either in the pen or starting.

- - -and that's as far as I'm going to go about what might possibly happen.

What is happening is that we're pretty full/taut right now. . .and I don't think the top end SP is good enough for a competitive year, no matter who you plug in there.
 

YTF

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Also, I just can't quit Whitlock. It's illogical. I don't care. The potential remains tantalizing. Let's start the season with him in the rotation and Crawford--who deserves better than such treatment!--in the pen as the bulk reliever.
Starter, closer or somewhere in between, I hope that he's fixable, given a defined role and returns to being the force that he looked to be when he came to Boston. He's under contract for the next 3 seasons with team options for '27 and 28' Getting this kid back on track could be huge.
 

BringBackMo

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I don't think the top end SP is good enough for a competitive year, no matter who you plug in there.
Do you mean regardless of what two free agent/trade starters we plug in there? Or regardless of which of the players we already have on the roster we plug in there?

EDIT: Sorry for the super confusing wording. I wasn't sure if you're feeling like no matter who we might acquire at the top of the rotation we'll struggle to compete, or if you were talking just about the pitchers we already have on the team.
 

BringBackMo

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Starter, closer or somewhere in between, I hope that he's fixable, given a defined role and returns to being the force that he looked to be when he came to Boston. He's under contract for the next 3 seasons with team options for '27 and 28' Getting this kid back on track could be huge.
Yes, completely agree with this. I hope Brez already has him in the lab.
 

simplicio

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It also illustrates how tight the pitching side of the org can become with just two acquisitions. It will be interesting to see what Breslow does, given the 40 man tensions and the equitable use tensions.

I mean, I don't know how you tell Winckowski that he's going to AAA. He gave us 84 innings of 2.88 ERA ball last year. That sort of unfairness is not something you want to cultivate in an organization. Pitch your heart out kid - and we'll stick a knife in it. So he's either in the pen or starting.

- - -and that's as far as I'm going to go about what might possibly happen.

What is happening is that we're pretty full/taut right now. . .and I don't think the top end SP is good enough for a competitive year, no matter who you plug in there.
If Winckowski is just a reliever I think he's definitely in Boston. But if we're really hitting reset on the pitching program and they see him long term as a starter, I don't see how there's room to begin that here.
 

Rovin Romine

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Do you mean regardless of what two free agent/trade starters we plug in there? Or regardless of which of the players we already have on the roster we plug in there?

EDIT: Sorry for the super confusing wording. I wasn't sure if you're feeling like no matter who we might acquire at the top of the rotation we'll struggle to compete, or if you were talking just about the pitchers we already have on the team.
Looking at what we have right now, I think we can compete with two good SPs added to the mix. Let me restate:

1) The current pitchers under our control - I don't think we have the makings of a rotation that can go deeper into games than 2023. Breslow may be a pitcher-whisperer, and perhaps he's banking on that. But you'd need just about everyone currently on the staff to stay healthy and take a full step forward as a starter. Sale, Bello, Pivetta, Houck/Whitlock/Crawford/Winckowski. Bello may be the least problematic, but we'd need consistency from Pivetta and health from Sale, Houck, Whitlock. Crawford and Winckowski would have to be able to go deep.

While there's always uncertainty, some uncertainties are greater than others. I think a competitive club might entertain one or two true question marks in the rotation. Here, we've got 4. They could all turn up positive, but a combination of negatives or meh results like last year is possible.

So I just don't see the SP staff as competitive, as is. (Which jives with the PR statements the Sox have been putting out.)


2) If Breslow goes the FA route to strengthen the rotation with one or two FA pitchers that can do deeper into games and give more innings, it's going to have a push-down effect, which we can see by looking at the roster as it is today. I think we have a very strong bullpen in that scenario with maybe an odd man out.

Because there is just such a potential backlog it makes the Rule 5 acquisition (secured by a trade) more interesting. Maybe Breslow loves the guy. But if there's a push-down he's going to have to move other people, or return his 5-guy.

And it's this sort of filling up the bottom of the 40-man with projects and fringe pitchers that has me wondering. Is this work that's just going to have to be undone if FAs are signed? Is it wasted effort (and cash)? Or is it a type of insurance? Or maybe you grab as you can, and get the best FA you can, and let the chips fall where they may, with whatever waste might happen?

That fullish 40 man also might suggest a trade might be in the offing, clearing the backlog. (Maybe for a SP or another player, but that's not what we're here for.)

But I think that when we do see the eventual signings/trades, we'll better understand them as addressing the issues with the depth of the current pitching staff.

Or being made in light of what we actually have to work with at this moment.

(Another factor to note in terms of what we currently have/control is that Sale, Pivetta, Jansen, and Martin are all FAs next year. So that may also play into any changes that are coming.)
 

simplicio

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The Sale/Pivetta departure is the biggest reason I see to keep Winck/Crawford in Worcester as full time starters, gearing up to fill those holes (for a full season) in 2025, along with being the first up when a guy inevitably goes down next year.
 

Mike473

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As it currently stands, it doesn't look very competitive. But, baseball is a funny game sometimes and we could be surprised.
 

jwbasham84

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Looking at what we have right now, I think we can compete with two good SPs added to the mix. Let me restate:

1) The current pitchers under our control - I don't think we have the makings of a rotation that can go deeper into games than 2023. Breslow may be a pitcher-whisperer, and perhaps he's banking on that. But you'd need just about everyone currently on the staff to stay healthy and take a full step forward as a starter. Sale, Bello, Pivetta, Houck/Whitlock/Crawford/Winckowski. Bello may be the least problematic, but we'd need consistency from Pivetta and health from Sale, Houck, Whitlock. Crawford and Winckowski would have to be able to go deep.
I don't see why we need to worry about Houck's health... I get he didn't get a full workload in last year and only pitched 114 innings total including his rehab, but he should be healthy and could add innings to that total. How many as a starter? That is up the Brez and his crew... But his injury last year should have no impact on 2024.
 

simplicio

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If he continues to be a raging tire fire after 2 times through the order, I don't really care about an innings limit, I just want someone who can go longer to fill the role.
 

Rovin Romine

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I don't see why we need to worry about Houck's health... I get he didn't get a full workload in last year and only pitched 114 innings total including his rehab, but he should be healthy and could add innings to that total. How many as a starter? That is up the Brez and his crew... But his injury last year should have no impact on 2024.
I was actually thinking of his back issues, which shut him down in 2022.

His starts returning from surgery in 2023 were very uneven: https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.fcgi?id=houckta01&t=p&year=2023

I'm inclined to give that a pass though - he did have two excellent outings against credible teams, which I think is an exceptionally good sign that he can pitch effectively still.
 

greenmountains

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The free agent pitchers are likely to sugar themselves out soon. If the Sox are not the YY winners, I expect one of the second tier starters gets signed (or maybe they go for Montgomery). That leaves a huge void at the top of the rotation.

I keep feeling like there is a trade to be had: Corbin Burnes and Willy Adames for Jarren Duran and Tanner Houck. Baseball Trade Value weighs this as a win for the Brewers. It gives Milwaukee two cost controlled players. It fills two big holes for the Sox and not tying up money long term. While Burnes is a Boras client, in 2025 Sale comes off the books.

Burnes
Bello
FA Starter
Sale
Pivetta / Whitlock
available for injuries / spot starts
Wink / Crawford / Fitts

Houck can't get deep into games, but could be a great pen arm. I just don't see him as a rotation guy - for reasons noted in a couple of comments above (uneven and 3rd time thru the order). I think moving Duran is selling high. I just don't see him as anything other than average (both fielding and hitting).

Let Rafeala have CF. SS, 2nd base and CF as plus defenders and sudden the pitchers aren't afraid to throw strikes.
 

Rovin Romine

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The Sale/Pivetta departure is the biggest reason I see to keep Winck/Crawford in Worcester as full time starters, gearing up to fill those holes (for a full season) in 2025, along with being the first up when a guy inevitably goes down next year.
Winckowski gave us 84 innings of 2.88 ERA ball last year. He was a bullpen mainstay (lead the team in pitching appearances) and has earned his place at the table. He had a bad month in June but finished strong. ERA+ of 158.

Crawford was one of the key starters during injury. He was better in relief, and pulled early as a starter, but his total campaign was 129 IP with an ERA+ of 113. (Ted Pivetta for best ERA+ on the staff for a pitcher with over 7 starts - Bernardino had those 6 openers.)

The team will not take a young and successful ML pitcher like Winckowski or Crawford and demote them to AAA for a year. Let alone two of them. It's toxic.

At most I think you see a temporary AAA assignment if one of them is injured or rusty in spring training or something - perhaps that's paired with stretching them out and folding them in as a starter.
 

Rovin Romine

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The free agent pitchers are likely to sugar themselves out soon. If the Sox are not the YY winners, I expect one of the second tier starters gets signed (or maybe they go for Montgomery). That leaves a huge void at the top of the rotation.

I keep feeling like there is a trade to be had: Corbin Burnes and Willy Adames for Jarren Duran and Tanner Houck. Baseball Trade Value weighs this as a win for the Brewers. It gives Milwaukee two cost controlled players. It fills two big holes for the Sox and not tying up money long term. While Burnes is a Boras client, in 2025 Sale comes off the books.

Burnes
Bello
FA Starter
Sale
Pivetta / Whitlock
available for injuries / spot starts
Wink / Crawford / Fitts

Houck can't get deep into games, but could be a great pen arm. I just don't see him as a rotation guy - for reasons noted in a couple of comments above (uneven and 3rd time thru the order). I think moving Duran is selling high. I just don't see him as anything other than average (both fielding and hitting).

Let Rafeala have CF. SS, 2nd base and CF as plus defenders and sudden the pitchers aren't afraid to throw strikes.
Dude - come on.

We're not discussing pet trades or who anyone wants signed or overall roster construction. Speculation, while interesting, bloats threads and we've got plenty of that going on right now.

We're just looking at what pitching we actually have and assessing as we go.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Winckowski gave us 84 innings of 2.88 ERA ball last year. He was a bullpen mainstay (lead the team in pitching appearances) and has earned his place at the table. He had a bad month in June but finished strong. ERA+ of 158.

Crawford was one of the key starters during injury. He was better in relief, and pulled early as a starter, but his total campaign was 129 IP with an ERA+ of 113. (Ted Pivetta for best ERA+ on the staff for a pitcher with over 7 starts - Bernardino had those 6 openers.)

The team will not take a young and successful ML pitcher like Winckowski or Crawford and demote them to AAA for a year. Let alone two of them. It's toxic.

At most I think you see a temporary AAA assignment if one of them is injured or rusty in spring training or something - perhaps that's paired with stretching them out and folding them in as a starter.
I agree that Winckowski and Crawford won't be seeing time at Worcester barring injury. If they don't crack the rotation out of spring training, they'll go to the bullpen. If they need to move them to the rotation at some point in the season, they'll do it the same way they did it with Crawford last year: a couple starts paired with a piggy back bulk guy until he can go 75-80+ pitches.
 

BringBackMo

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Because there is just such a potential backlog it makes the Rule 5 acquisition (secured by a trade) more interesting. Maybe Breslow loves the guy. But if there's a push-down he's going to have to move other people, or return his 5-guy.

And it's this sort of filling up the bottom of the 40-man with projects and fringe pitchers that has me wondering. Is this work that's just going to have to be undone if FAs are signed? Is it wasted effort (and cash)? Or is it a type of insurance? Or maybe you grab as you can, and get the best FA you can, and let the chips fall where they may, with whatever waste might happen?
I really think all of this is the insurance option you listed. There's almost no downside to trading for Slaten. He cost us a guy who signed for like $100k under slot...for the tenth round. If we have to send him back it's like $50k or whatever (can't remember exact figure!) and we get the 40-man spot back. So why not lock him in as that insurance option in case other things don't go to plan?

This has been an illuminating thread for me because it's led me to believe that the overall pitching staff is in better shape than we have recognized. It's *seriously* lacking the top-of-the-rotation arms we need. Without some additional firepower, this team goes nowhere. But IF we can acquire a couple of good starters, suddenly it all starts to look like the kind of staff that might be able to compete for a playoff spot.
 

simplicio

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Winckowski gave us 84 innings of 2.88 ERA ball last year. He was a bullpen mainstay (lead the team in pitching appearances) and has earned his place at the table. He had a bad month in June but finished strong. ERA+ of 158.

Crawford was one of the key starters during injury. He was better in relief, and pulled early as a starter, but his total campaign was 129 IP with an ERA+ of 113. (Ted Pivetta for best ERA+ on the staff for a pitcher with over 7 starts - Bernardino had those 6 openers.)

The team will not take a young and successful ML pitcher like Winckowski or Crawford and demote them to AAA for a year. Let alone two of them. It's toxic.

At most I think you see a temporary AAA assignment if one of them is injured or rusty in spring training or something - perhaps that's paired with stretching them out and folding them in as a starter.
I agree, both have proven themselves at the ML level, but if they're in Boston somebody else has to go to make room. If we bring in two starters we have at least 10 guys for the pen.

Obvious locks:
Jansen
Martin

Options but pretty clear seniority:
Houck
Whitlock

Options but the only lefty in sight:
Bernardino

Options but hard choices:
Schreiber
Crawford
Winckowski

No options/rule 5:
Mata
Slaten

So who are the two cuts?
 

simplicio

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I really think all of this is the insurance option you listed. There's almost no downside to trading for Slaten. He cost us a guy who signed for like $100k under slot...for the tenth round. If we have to send him back it's like $50k or whatever (can't remember exact figure!) and we get the 40-man spot back. So why not lock him in as that insurance option in case other things don't go to plan?

This has been an illuminating thread for me because it's led me to believe that the overall pitching staff is in better shape than we have recognized. It's *seriously* lacking the top-of-the-rotation arms we need. Without some additional firepower, this team goes nowhere. But IF we can acquire a couple of good starters, suddenly it all starts to look like the kind of staff that might be able to compete for a playoff spot.
It's a good point about Slaten, it's totally possible he's just a flyer and maybe I'm being too optimistic about the new staff seemingly going out of their way to get him.
 

mwonow

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Looking at what we have right now, I think we can compete with two good SPs added to the mix. Let me restate:

(snip)

Because there is just such a potential backlog it makes the Rule 5 acquisition (secured by a trade) more interesting. Maybe Breslow loves the guy. But if there's a push-down he's going to have to move other people, or return his 5-guy.

And it's this sort of filling up the bottom of the 40-man with projects and fringe pitchers that has me wondering. Is this work that's just going to have to be undone if FAs are signed? Is it wasted effort (and cash)? Or is it a type of insurance? Or maybe you grab as you can, and get the best FA you can, and let the chips fall where they may, with whatever waste might happen?

That fullish 40 man also might suggest a trade might be in the offing, clearing the backlog. (Maybe for a SP or another player, but that's not what we're here for.)

(snip)
It's tough to sort through the bottom half of the ML bullpen, and I think you're right, there will need to be some kind of trade to clear space for the Wincks and Cutters - maybe more for a lottery ticket than a roster guy, but either way...

But as for the bottom of the 40 man - Llovera has already been nominated as a dump-now candidate, and it's hard to picture any of Jacques, Walter, or Murphy being a ML difference maker in 2024-2025. Lots of fungible arms towards the bottom of that barrel.
 

BringBackMo

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It's a good point about Slaten, it's totally possible he's just a flyer and maybe I'm being too optimistic about the new staff seemingly going out of their way to get him.
No, no, I’m optimistic about him, too! Love what we’ve read about him and how he seems to be a prime candidate for a sprinkling of Breslow’s magic dust. But it does get hard to see a path to him spending the year on the major league roster, for the reasons you laid out.
 

nvalvo

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To me, the upshot of these last few dozen posts is that it looks two of the three of Houck, Crawford and Whitlock may be headed out in trade, likely for one good SP.

I’ll leave trade speculation as an exercise for the reader (and in other threads), but we’d need a team that believes that they can take those kinds of guys from marginal SP to real SP, values the cost certainty they provide, and has a good pitcher to send us back. There are a few likely candidates.

Then, we aim to regrow a new batch of big league pitchers in their place from a new set of mid-tier prospects and rule 5 claims, which is, after all, who they were a few years back.
 

The Gray Eagle

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This has been an illuminating thread for me because it's led me to believe that the overall pitching staff is in better shape than we have recognized. It's *seriously* lacking the top-of-the-rotation arms we need. Without some additional firepower, this team goes nowhere. But IF we can acquire a couple of good starters, suddenly it all starts to look like the kind of staff that might be able to compete for a playoff spot.
The park effect of Fenway really clouds the numbers.
ERA+ is adjusted for parks. Here are last year's ERA+ numbers for the staff:
https://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/BOS/2023-pitching.shtml
4 of 5 starters, plus Pivetta, were above league average in ERA+:
Bello 107
Crawfrd 113
Houck 91
Paxton 101
Sale 106
Pivetta 113

The main relievers were all good:
Jansen 126
Winckowski 158
Martin 434
Bernadino 143
Schreiber 118

The other guys were, um, not good:
Whitlock 89
Kluber 65
Murphy 93
Bleier 87
Llovera 84
Jacques 91
Ort 74
Walter 74
Brasier 63
Garza 63
Robertson 78
Joely 71

That's over 360 terrible innings pitched at a combined ERA+ of about 85 or so (just guessing, couldn't get it to sum the numbers.) 267 total runs allowed by those scrubs, actual ERA of over 6.60 in over a quarter of the 1430 IP last season.

One of the main reason we need new starters is to try to cut down on the number of innings thrown by scrubs next year, not so much that what we had was so horrible when they pitched. The main guys weren't too bad, virtually all above average, but they were hurt by the ballpark and the lousy defense and they didn't throw enough innings. And when they were unavailable, we had to use a lot of really bad pitchers instead.

The ballpark won't be changing. Hopefully the defense is much better, and hopefully we get a couple good new pitchers to give us a lot of good innings.

But it's important to keep in mind next year that even pitchers who are pretty good might still be giving up more runs than expected because of this run scoring environment. And any pitchers who aren't very good will get torched.

The other side of the park effect is that the offense was not as good as it seemed. The only regulars with an OPS+ (also park adjusted) over 100 were Casas 129, Duran 121, Yoshida 109, Devers 126, and Turner 114. Duvall was at 119 in only 353 PA and Abreu was at 132 in only 85 PA. Duvall and Turner are gone, Abreu and Duran unproven. Sure looks like we could use another good hitter, ideally one who is a good defensive 2B as well.
 

cantor44

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Whitlock was excellent in his "Rule 5" season as a reliever, has been solid as a reliever and not very good as a starter since (and sometimes hurt). Not sure why he would get a rotation slot.

Houck has not been able to get over the 3 times through the line up hump at all. Maybe he's better in the pen then.

Meanwhile, it feels to tough to ignore Pivetta's very high quality work in the second half of the season - so good that it carried over when he was reasserted into the rotation (getting over whatever his mental or physical bugaboos there might have been). To the eye test at least, Pivetta has superb stuff. His mediocre career numbers have been a matter of consistently harnessing that superb stuff, not a matter of mediocre stuff. I'm bullish on him health provided and you can quote me if shits the bed next year.

Crawford was a bit of an unsung hero last year - lots of quality innings, and also has good stuff.

Wincowski played a significant role in the pen - a kind of first-year-of-Whitlock performance. I'd say keep him there - why mess?

Seems to me with what they got:

Bello
Sale
Pivetta
Crawford
and ....oh boy ....

Damn. They really do need 2 high quality starters making PIvetta or Crawford long man/6th starter ...Houck as #7.
 

BringBackMo

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Jul 15, 2005
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The park effect of Fenway really clouds the numbers.
ERA+ is adjusted for parks. Here are last year's ERA+ numbers for the staff:
https://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/BOS/2023-pitching.shtml
4 of 5 starters, plus Pivetta, were above league average in ERA+:
Bello 107
Crawfrd 113
Houck 91
Paxton 101
Sale 106
Pivetta 113

The main relievers were all good:
Jansen 126
Winckowski 158
Martin 434
Bernadino 143
Schreiber 118

The other guys were, um, not good:
Whitlock 89
Kluber 65
Murphy 93
Bleier 87
Llovera 84
Jacques 91
Ort 74
Walter 74
Brasier 63
Garza 63
Robertson 78
Joely 71

That's over 360 terrible innings pitched at a combined ERA+ of about 85 or so (just guessing, couldn't get it to sum the numbers.) 267 total runs allowed by those scrubs, actual ERA of over 6.60 in over a quarter of the 1430 IP last season.

One of the main reason we need new starters is to try to cut down on the number of innings thrown by scrubs next year, not so much that what we had was so horrible when they pitched. The main guys weren't too bad, virtually all above average, but they were hurt by the ballpark and the lousy defense and they didn't throw enough innings. And when they were unavailable, we had to use a lot of really bad pitchers instead.

The ballpark won't be changing. Hopefully the defense is much better, and hopefully we get a couple good new pitchers to give us a lot of good innings.

But it's important to keep in mind next year that even pitchers who are pretty good might still be giving up more runs than expected because of this run scoring environment. And any pitchers who aren't very good will get torched.

The other side of the park effect is that the offense was not as good as it seemed. The only regulars with an OPS+ (also park adjusted) over 100 were Casas 129, Duran 121, Yoshida 109, Devers 126, and Turner 114. Duvall was at 119 in only 353 PA and Abreu was at 132 in only 85 PA. Duvall and Turner are gone, Abreu and Duran unproven. Sure looks like we could use another good hitter, ideally one who is a good defensive 2B as well.
Good post. Thanks for the work in introducing some useful data to the discussion. I think it’s reasonable to expect improvement from Bello, and to hope for it from Houck and Whitlock, especially if they wind up in the pen. I could imagine regression from Bernardino and I suppose Martin (only because he was crazy good last year). And I could see either improvement or regression from Sale and Winckowski. The rest of the pitchers performed at a level that I think is reasonable to assume they’ll more or less replicate this year. Of course, a main point of your post is that there’s a lot of volatility when it comes to Fenway and the level of our defense next year.
 

BringBackMo

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Jul 15, 2005
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To me, the upshot of these last few dozen posts is that it looks two of the three of Houck, Crawford and Whitlock may be headed out in trade, likely for one good SP.
We’ve talked a lot around here about trading Houck, but this is the first time I’ve considered trading Whitlock (one of my binkies) or Crawford. I kind of reflexively hate the idea…but you may be on to something. Two of those three young, cheap pitchers would form the foundation of a pretty attractive trade package. I think some of it may come down to whether we’re able to sign a couple of good pitchers, and to what Breslow the Maker of Aces sees in this trio.
 

Rovin Romine

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The park effect of Fenway really clouds the numbers.
ERA+ is adjusted for parks. Here are last year's ERA+ numbers for the staff:
As sort of a glass half-full take on this, this is what we're working with now:

Bello 107
Crawford 113
Houck 91
Paxton 101
Sale 106
Pivetta 113

The main relievers were all good:
Jansen 126
Winckowski 158
Martin 434
Bernadino 143
Schreiber 118

The other guys were, um, not good:
Whitlock 89
Kluber 65
Murphy 93
Bleier 87
Llovera 84
Jacques 91
Ort 74
Walter 74
Brasier 63
Garza 63
Robertson 78
Joely 71


Some positive things to consider:

We have a new pitching coach.
Sale has had a year to shake off the rust and adjust.
Whitlock and Houck's numbers may have been depressed some due to injury issues.
Bello has a year's more development.
Pivetta may have put things back together.
Schreiber may start healthy and so improve.

Most of the dreck has been replaced with pitchers who are more likely to be effective.
Campbell alone looks like a very promising upgrade as is, instead of the usual fringe/maybe type bullpen arm we've seen recently. https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.fcgi?id=campbis01&t=p&year=2023
Murphy had a great run then hit the wall, so perhaps a new pitching coach will help there also.

With health this is very close to a competitive staff I think.
 

Rovin Romine

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I’ll leave trade speculation as an exercise for the reader (and in other threads), but we’d need a team that believes that they can take those kinds of guys from marginal SP to real SP, values the cost certainty they provide, and has a good pitcher to send us back. There are a few likely candidates.
Thank you. I know after identifying strengths and weaknesses the natural impulse is to suggest a solution.

I think for this thread these categorical hypotheticals are fine - adding SP innings via trade or FA. Now we need to see what happens and what the effect on the roster actually is.
 

walt in maryland

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It seems like they just need to sort out the rotation and the bullpen will take care of itself. Whoever of Winckowski, Crawford, Pivetta, Houck, and Whitlock don't end up in the rotation will be valuable pieces out of the pen.
I think it's likely that if they add two starters from outside the organization, at least one of the Houck/Whitlock/Crawford/Pivetta/Winckowski group will be used as a trade piece.
 

Big Papi's Mango Salsa

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Looking only at what is here, I think what the season ends up looking like (based on number of starts):

Bello
Pivetta
Crawford
Houck
Someone from AAA
Someone else from AAA
Sale

Jansen
Martin
Winckowski
Campbell


That rotation, in the AL East, will not be competitive for anything but about 74 wins, at the most.

Unfortunately, the AAA and AA rotations are mostly terrible as well.

Assume Fitts in AAA and then nothing else worth talking about.

AA is Gonzalez and nothing.

So of the upper levels of the organization, MLB has maybe 3 viable starters, unfortunately two are SP4 or SP5 options on a good staff. Possibly 4 if Bailey is the best pitching coach on the planet.

One (of five) in AAA and one (of five) in AA.

I am really struggling to think of any even mid market or higher organizations that are so thin at all upper levels.
 
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Rovin Romine

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A reminder to please keep trade speculation and "how I would run the club in the long term" posts to the many other threads we have for that.

Anyway, we have acquired Giolito, so everything gets bumped down a notch. We'll see if there's a forthcoming 40 man move. There's a 13 pitcher max for the 26 man roster. 5 starters, a max of 8 relievers.

Starting Rotation as of today:

1 Lucas Giolito (lock)​
2 Sale (LHP) (lock)​
3 Bello (lock)​
4 Pivetta (lockish)​
5 Houck​
Depth: Crawford, Whitlock, Winckowski, Murphy, Walter.​

Bullpen as of today: This is the 40 man, with * indicating options (per fangraphs). Players are listed by lack of options, and hence a requirement to be on the ML staff, not skill:

1 Jansen​
2 Martin​
3 Maurico Llovera​
4 Justin Slaten (Rule 5)​
5 Bryan Mata​
leaving 3 spots for​
6 Whitlock*​
7 Crawford*​
8 Winckowski*​
9 Isaiah Campbell* (traded from SEA)​
10 Schreiber*​
11 Bernardino (LHP)*​
I'm not sure who gets the chop though. Llovera, Slaten, and Mata surely do not project better than the current 6-11 on this list.
Also on the 40-man:​
Brandon Walter (LHP)*​
Zack Weiss*​
Greg Weissert*​
Chris Murphy (LHP)*​
Cooper Criswell*​
Joe Jacques (LHP)*​
Zack Kelly*​
 
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