2024 Rotation and Bullpen

Yo La Tengo

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Eno Sarris is a stats guy at the Athletic who writes some smart stuff. Here's his summary about the Sox, in which he predicts Boston with have a top-five rotation in the AL:

The Red Sox rotation had the fifth-best strikeout-minus-walk rate in the American League this spring, and that’s usually a powerful predictor. This team has a great offense; if these pitchers pitch as they are capable, the team will do well and maybe even add a rotation arm at the deadline. At the very least, this situation doesn’t seem as dire as some make it.

Keith Law:

The Red Sox have shored up the offense and really shored up the defense, but they’re rolling out three-fifths of a rotation, with relievers-in-sheep’s-clothing Tanner Houck and Garrett Whitlock in the last two spots and no real options right behind them. . . . They could sneak into 85 wins based on the run-scoring and the defense, but I can’t see this pitching staff holding opponents much under 780-800 runs and that won’t let them contend.
 

The Gray Eagle

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Eno Sarris is a stats guy at the Athletic who writes some smart stuff. Here's his summary about the Sox, in which he predicts Boston with have a top-five rotation in the AL:

The Red Sox rotation had the fifth-best strikeout-minus-walk rate in the American League this spring, and that’s usually a powerful predictor. This team has a great offense; if these pitchers pitch as they are capable, the team will do well and maybe even add a rotation arm at the deadline. At the very least, this situation doesn’t seem as dire as some make it.

Keith Law:

The Red Sox have shored up the offense and really shored up the defense, but they’re rolling out three-fifths of a rotation, with relievers-in-sheep’s-clothing Tanner Houck and Garrett Whitlock in the last two spots and no real options right behind them. . . . They could sneak into 85 wins based on the run-scoring and the defense, but I can’t see this pitching staff holding opponents much under 780-800 runs and that won’t let them contend.
Just wanted to add Sarris's takes on each pitcher in our rotation from that article, as they are relevant and interesting. He has praise for each of them, along with questions either stated or implied:

His question on Pivetta seems to be whether he can keep up what he started doing in the middle of last year:
Pivetta always had the sizzling riding fastball, and the 84 mph diving knuckle curve, but then he added a hard slider, and the final cherry on top was this sweeper that, though it’s usually a sideways pitch that works best for sinker slingers, he can still play with off his high release as this video indicates. He implemented this pitch more heavily in the second half last year and had a 3.30 ERA.
Crawford's Stuff+ looks promising, but will he be able to get people out at Fenway?
Kutter Crawford had five pitches that were above-average by Stuff+ last year (the cutter of course, but also the curve, the four-seamer, the sweeper, and the hard slider), and away from Fenway, he pitched like it, with a 2.49 ERA and pristine strikeout-minus-walk rates to support it. He has gone to work this spring and is “putting up 20s” — he has an induced vertical break of 20 inches on his fastball this year, something that only Pivetta and five other pitchers did regularly last season. Oh, and his sweeper has 12 inches of sweep.
Houck's question is not about third time through the order, but instead can he fix his "southpaw problem"?
Tanner Houck looks like Chris Sale flipped around to the right hand, and against righties he’s been that dominant, holding them to a .214/.282/.283 line that is good enough to keep giving him attempts at starting. That .253/.343/.420 line from lefties is the problem, so Houck came in this spring with better health, and a better cutter to try and figure out the southpaw problem.
Whitlock, no surprise, is all about health:
Garrett Whitlock has had up-and-down health, which led to losing nearly two ticks off his fastball and more like four ticks off his breaking ball last year. He’s come in this spring sitting 95 again, and his slider is back into the mid-80s, with improved sweep.
Bello looks good so far-- can his slider be his best pitch in the regular season, like it's been this spring? And will he continue to not use his four-seamer, which got hit hard last year?
Brayan Bello is a top prospect who always had the changeup, and just needed a better slider. His slider kept getting harder all year last year, and this spring Stuff+ says it’s his best pitch. This spring, he’s basically turfed the four-seam fastball (which gave up a .607 slugging last year) and has worked to find ways to use the sinker against opposite-handed hitters.
It's overall an encouraging look at the rotation, along with some big questions for each of them.
 

simplicio

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For reference, here are these stats on our guys from last year:
80073
Overall Pitching+ ratings (>70IP) out of 199:
Pivetta: 13
Whitlock: 19
Crawford: 44
Winckowski: 101
Houck: 103
Bello: 129
 

Toe Nash

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Eno Sarris is a stats guy at the Athletic who writes some smart stuff. Here's his summary about the Sox, in which he predicts Boston with have a top-five rotation in the AL:

The Red Sox rotation had the fifth-best strikeout-minus-walk rate in the American League this spring, and that’s usually a powerful predictor. This team has a great offense; if these pitchers pitch as they are capable, the team will do well and maybe even add a rotation arm at the deadline. At the very least, this situation doesn’t seem as dire as some make it.
I'm sorry, we're using the 5th-best K-BB% in the SPRING as some kind of indication of the pitching staff? And this got published in a major outlet?

Maybe if they were first it might be worth noting, but they were fifth and if you use the more common K/BB rate they were 8th because a number of teams were pretty similar. And it doesn't mean anything about how they will perform this year.
 

Sin Duda

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I'm sorry, we're using the 5th-best K-BB% in the SPRING as some kind of indication of the pitching staff? And this got published in a major outlet?

Maybe if they were first it might be worth noting, but they were fifth and if you use the more common K/BB rate they were 8th because a number of teams were pretty similar. And it doesn't mean anything about how they will perform this year.
But I already made the "5th best Spring K-BB%" plaque and T-shirts! Rats!!
 

Rovin Romine

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I'm sorry, we're using the 5th-best K-BB% in the SPRING as some kind of indication of the pitching staff? And this got published in a major outlet?

Maybe if they were first it might be worth noting, but they were fifth and if you use the more common K/BB rate they were 8th because a number of teams were pretty similar. And it doesn't mean anything about how they will perform this year.
Was it not looking at what the SPs did, as oppose to the ST pitchers as a whole?

If so, it's a decent proxy for control and stuff - K batters, do not BB them. But I wouldn't predict a season off it.
 

nvalvo

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I'm sorry, we're using the 5th-best K-BB% in the SPRING as some kind of indication of the pitching staff? And this got published in a major outlet?

Maybe if they were first it might be worth noting, but they were fifth and if you use the more common K/BB rate they were 8th because a number of teams were pretty similar. And it doesn't mean anything about how they will perform this year.
Toe, it came in a "bold predictions" article.
 

Tony Pena's Gas Cloud

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I'm sorry, we're using the 5th-best K-BB% in the SPRING as some kind of indication of the pitching staff? And this got published in a major outlet?

Maybe if they were first it might be worth noting, but they were fifth and if you use the more common K/BB rate they were 8th because a number of teams were pretty similar. And it doesn't mean anything about how they will perform this year.
You don't think this is something Breslow and company are looking at?
 

Rovin Romine

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Just thought I'd cross link to the thread discussing the Sox acquiring Naoyuki Uwasawa for cash from Tampa: https://sonsofsamhorn.net/index.php?threads/red-sox-acquire-right-hander-naoyuki-uwasawa-from-tb-for-cash-considerations.42170/#post-6043142

The short version is he's a soft tossing righty starter with a myriad of pitches. 30 years old, career in Japan. He's been added to the 40 man and assigned to extended spring training.

Basically, he becomes a possible swing-man or depth at AAA. Seems like a no-risk move.
 

Rovin Romine

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So now I make our AAA depth to be:

sp Cooper Criswell (40)​
sp Naoyuki Uwasawa (40)​
Brennan Bernardino (40)​
Zack Kelly (40)​
Plus:​
sp Richard Fitts​
sp Grant Gambrell​
sp Brian Van Belle​
Lucas Luetge​
Justin Hagenman​
Cam Booser​
Chase Shugart​

That seems pretty adequate to me for season-starting depth. Some potential 5th man starters, a couple with upside. A vet or two. Some live arms. Hopefully one or two of them pitches their way to a promotion by mid-season.

Mata remains a cypher. On the 15 day IL.
 

CR67dream

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Not starter related, but while I'm thinking about it, I haven't seen a lot of conversation about what it might mean if this guy can make it back by the All-Star break. I can't see him pitching a whole lot of innings, but it would be nice to be able to add some quality to the innings he would be pitching, should he be able to provide that.

He hopes to be back in games near the trade deadline. He’s just been playing catch so far.

“Everything is going well. They seemed pleased the way it’s going,” he said of the team’s training staff. “They saw me throw for the first time today. Now it’s just a matter of me trying to poke and prod them to go as fast as I can, and them trying to reign me back in a safe way of doing things.”

I don't expect a lot from him this year, in fact I tend to forget about him sometimes, but I thought I'd throw it out there for thoughts.
 

nvalvo

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Not starter related, but while I'm thinking about it, I haven't seen a lot of conversation about what it might mean if this guy can make it back by the All-Star break. I can't see him pitching a whole lot of innings, but it would be nice to be able to add some quality to the innings he would be pitching, should he be able to provide that.




I don't expect a lot from him this year, in fact I tend to forget about him sometimes, but I thought I'd throw it out there for thoughts.
I think that if the team is good at all, we’ll be looking to add a starter at the deadline. So selling one or both of Martin and Jansen for prospects to replenish those sent out for that starter, while backfilling their workload with Hendricks, could be a way to do that.
 

TomRicardo

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Not starter related, but while I'm thinking about it, I haven't seen a lot of conversation about what it might mean if this guy can make it back by the All-Star break. I can't see him pitching a whole lot of innings, but it would be nice to be able to add some quality to the innings he would be pitching, should he be able to provide that.

I don't expect a lot from him this year, in fact I tend to forget about him sometimes, but I thought I'd throw it out there for thoughts.
Doesn't mean much. I mean you can't expect much from him and the team is not really competitive as currently constructed unless a ridiculous amount goes their way. It would be nice to see him get some reps but honestly he was signed for next year I assume to replace Jansen who all but gone.
 

CR67dream

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I think that if the team is good at all, we’ll be looking to add a starter at the deadline. So selling one or both of Martin and Jansen for prospects to replenish those sent out for that starter, while backfilling their workload with Hendricks, could be a way to do that.

Yeah, Bleacher Report has Jansen second on their list of likely 2024 trades, and I have to think that if the Sox are in sniffing distance of a wildcard (or whatever the circumstance, really) they won't hesitate to move him in a package for a starter that they like. I'd rather keep Martin as it stands today, but who knows where either's value will be by then and who may be available.

As I said we may not see much or anything from Hendriks, but it's a nice fallback to have to cover bullpen innings should it go down that way. And given the need for innings, any arm that can contribute quality ones at some point in the season can only help.

Edited for clarity
 
Last edited:

Rovin Romine

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Not starter related, but while I'm thinking about it, I haven't seen a lot of conversation about what it might mean if this guy can make it back by the All-Star break. I can't see him pitching a whole lot of innings, but it would be nice to be able to add some quality to the innings he would be pitching, should he be able to provide that.

I don't expect a lot from him this year, in fact I tend to forget about him sometimes, but I thought I'd throw it out there for thoughts.
Well, he had TJ surgery on Aug 2, 2023. The internet suggests 12 months as a baseline, with up to 14 not being unusual. 9 months would be on the insanely fast end of the scale. He's at the 8 month mark. So we'll probably get some updates as the season goes. His goal is a return at the ASB.

He's throwing already, so that's a plus: https://www.mlb.com/news/liam-hendriks-red-sox-deal

If he picks up anywhere near where he left off he's going to be a force: https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/savant-player/liam-hendriks-521230?stats=statcast-r-pitching-mlb
 

Toe Nash

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He seems to be suggesting that it has a track record, so...?
But they're only barely above the average. So even if it does, being 5th doesn't mean much other than I guess, they're not going to be terrible, which we basically knew. No one really thinks it's "dire" except that they don't have much depth.
 

chrisfont9

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But they're only barely above the average. So even if it does, being 5th doesn't mean much other than I guess, they're not going to be terrible, which we basically knew. No one really thinks it's "dire" except that they don't have much depth.
Yeah, they will probably be OK, but the season hinges on who else has to make starts. Part of my optimism includes the idea that they have saved some $ for a midseason move, if and when that depth gets tested. I guess it's too early to speculate about who might be available.
 

Robert Plant

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So now I make our AAA depth to be:

sp Cooper Criswell (40)​
sp Naoyuki Uwasawa (40)​
Brennan Bernardino (40)​
Zack Kelly (40)​
Plus:​
sp Richard Fitts​
sp Grant Gambrell​
sp Brian Van Belle​
Lucas Luetge​
Justin Hagenman​
Cam Booser​
Chase Shugart​

That seems pretty adequate to me for season-starting depth. Some potential 5th man starters, a couple with upside. A vet or two. Some live arms. Hopefully one or two of them pitches their way to a promotion by mid-season.

Mata remains a cypher. On the 15 day IL.
That's decent depth. There's are some # 5 starters in there, maybe a # 4 if some kind of magic happens.
 

simplicio

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I wouldn't write off Uwasawa entirely, give him some time to adjust and work with the development team and I think he could easily end up an acceptable #5.
 

Rovin Romine

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I don't see where you get that. Criswell had a decent spring, but I don't think see anyone else close to major league-ready.
Well, Criswell might be ready today. Uwasawa might be ready in a short while. They're both on the 40.

Fitts and Gambrell aren't on the 40, but there's a chance one would make a non-embarrassing spot-starter in a month, or even a more viable call up (including pen) by mid-season.

Which is really what you need - a pair of stopgap call-ups, and a pair on a short development clock. Gambrell had a velocity bump in ST. Fitts had a very impressive ST outing v. a mostly ML TX lineup. https://www.mlb.com/video/richard-fitts-fans-three-in-3-1-3-shutout-frames
 

Fishy1

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I wouldn't write off Uwasawa entirely, give him some time to adjust and work with the development team and I think he could easily end up an acceptable #5.
I don't want to write him off, either, but I wonder how his stuff can or will convert. I have trouble imagining guys with a K rate under 6 succeeding in the bigs, but maybe it happens? What is the K-rate conversion like from Japan to MLB?

A little bit of digging produced this:

80154

https://sportsanalytics.berkeley.edu/articles/japan-to-mlb.html
 

nvalvo

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I don't see where you get that. Criswell had a decent spring, but I don't think see anyone else close to major league-ready.
I see a few I would call “close to major league ready,” starting with Fitts, Criswell, and Gambrell but also including a couple of the AA rotation guys.

By close to ready I mean that if/when we need spot starts mid-season, I don’t expect them to get totally destroyed.
 

Cassvt2023

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Not sure if this goes here but I’m predicting Pivetta to be great in tonight’s start. Late news that Devers is scratched with a sore shoulder makes it a lesser lineup. This guy is an absolute gamer who wants to put the team on his back (see 2021 playoffs), pitches with intensity and fire, is close to where he grew up in western Canada and has been really good dating back to last June. I’m guessing he flirts w/ double digit K’s and goes toe to toe w/ a really good George Kirby.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Not sure if this goes here but I’m predicting Pivetta to be great in tonight’s start. Late news that Devers is scratched with a sore shoulder makes it a lesser lineup. This guy is an absolute gamer who wants to put the team on his back (see 2021 playoffs), pitches with intensity and fire, is close to where he grew up in western Canada and has been really good dating back to last June. I’m guessing he flirts w/ double digit K’s and goes toe to toe w/ a really good George Kirby.
noted
 

nvalvo

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That 1-0 loss in Seattle was a pretty grim offensive performance, but understandable against a great SP in a pitcher's park with our best hitter resting his shoulder. But that was a pretty great performance from Pivetta, which is a pretty bullish sign for the season. Maybe we should offer him an extension before midseason IMO, to move some of the CBT burden into this season (I think we can still do that...) and get him locked in before he has a great year and becomes expensive in FA.
 

Max Power

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Harry Hooper

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Abraham's Sunday notes column has this:

David Robertson is with his eighth team, having joined the Rangers on a one-year deal. The 39-year-old righthander, who makes his home in Rhode Island, represents himself and deals with teams directly. “Just looking for a good situation and a chance to compete,” he said. “It’s not too complicated.” Robertson signed for one year and $11.5 million with a mutual option for 2025. The Red Sox, a team he would love to play for, never called. Robertson has a 2.70 ERA since 2022 and has averaged a healthy 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings. His fastball still plays

Not pitching-related, but he also noted that Mondesi has seemingly fallen off the grid:

The mystery of Adalberto Mondesí remains unsolved. The Red Sox acquired Mondesí before the 2023 season for lefty Josh Taylor. Mondesí never appeared in a spring training or regular-season game and was released after the season. He spent the entire year on the injured list with what was described as “recovering from left knee surgery.” This was from surgery he had in May 2022. There was talk in January that the Marlins were interested in signing Mondesí, but it never happened. At 28, he’s a free agent
 

bosox188

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Abraham is such a shit stirrer. Did anyone really think the Sox were in the market for another reliever in his mid/late 30s to pay eight figures to? Maybe his fastball still plays, but relievers can also fall off a cliff pretty quickly.
Yea, I can't stand Pete Abe. There are plenty of valid critiques to be had about the offseason but Robertson is grasping at straws. I love what we've seen out Campbell, Weissert, Winckowski and despite his unfortunate debut timing last night, I'm high on Slaten as well. Unless Robertson's started pitching lefty he's not moving any needles in this pen.
 

Harry Hooper

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McAdam had this from Cora in a piece yesterday:

“I was watching games today. (Philadelphia starter Aaron) Nola gave it up early, but he continued to go and he ended up giving them five (innings). That’s how it’s going to be. There’s going to be days when they don’t have their (best) stuff, but they’re going to stay out there for five because we need it as group. For us to be able to play good baseball and win a lot of games, starters have to be able to do their job and we’re 2-for-2 now.”
 

DJnVa

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Yeah, this is a nice start:

Bello: 5 IP, 5 H, 2/0 K/W
Pivetta: 6 IP, 3 H, 10/0 K/W
Crawford: 6 IP, 3 H, 7/1 K/W
Whitlock: 5 IP, 3 H, 8/0 K/W

That's 22 IP, 14 H, 27/1 K/W

Now just keep that going in Oakland.
 

Fishy1

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Seems like a recipe for damaging arms though?
I've wondered about this too. Seems like one of the ways they're trying to protect these guys is by keeping them to around 80 pitches. Whitlock threw 81, Kutter 84, Pivetta 84, Bello 84 too. Maybe the evidence suggests most arm injuries happen when guys are trying to air it out past pitch 85? I don't know.
 

DJnVa

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I've wondered about this too. Seems like one of the ways they're trying to protect these guys is by keeping them to around 80 pitches. Whitlock threw 81, Kutter 84, Pivetta 84, Bello 84 too. Maybe the evidence suggests most arm injuries happen when guys are trying to air it out past pitch 85? I don't know.
I think the pitch count is more a function of it being early in the season. I did hear Cora say that they want at leat 25 IP each time through the rotation for the SP.

Is there any info that hitters struggle more with breaking stuff early in the season? No idea. I would assume this % changes as the year goes on.
 

bernie carb 33

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The other GMs have probably noticed our luck/expertise in the Rule 5. On Sunday Whitlock (from NYY) pitches a gem. Then closed out the game with Slaten, signed in a marginal trade with the Mets.
 

Slappy

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Sox pitching out of the gate......

#1 in WHIP
#1 in OBA
#1 in Hits
#2 in Team ERA
#3 in SO
#3 in BB

Only 158 left on schedule
 

joe dokes

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Seems like a recipe for damaging arms though?
Hard to know how far this will go without knowing other teams' hitting strengths and weaknesses. While all the A's are major leaguers, it could be that it will be more effective for the pitchers to go to their strengths more often, rather than pitching to the hitters' weaknesses on a "better" team like Seattle.

I think the pitch count is more a function of it being early in the season. I did hear Cora say that they want at leat 25 IP each time through the rotation for the SP.
The weekend got me thinking whether Cora's 25 goal is better achieved with a 7, 2 quality 6's, a 5, and a blowout where Chase Anderson pitches 7 innings of mopup relief in a 30-0 loss. A run of too many close games with 5-6 inning starts will burn the pen. (A blowout win would be OK, too!)
 

Harry Hooper

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Seems like a recipe for damaging arms though?
Heavy reliance on breaking pitches has been noted as a factor in the demise of the careers of the likes of Mike Norris, Steve Stone, and even Oil Can Boyd, but true certainty eludes MLB in this regard.