Josh Winckowski wasn’t happy with his rookie season. So he got to work

soxhop411

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Does anyone have an explantation for why the 2023 Winckowski has completely eclipsed the 2022 Winckowski?
@Rovin Romine boy do i have your answer, courtesy of the Athletic
When Josh Winckowski returned home to the Fort Myers area after last season, he did some reflecting. There were a few aspects of his performance during his rookie season that he liked — but the list was short.

Rather than just accepting that a 5.89 ERA over 15 appearances (14 starts) was what he would be as a major league pitcher, Winckowski got to work and spent the offseason retooling nearly every part of his game at the JetBlue Park facilities.
He developed a new grip on his slider, sharpened his cutter, increased his sinker usage, changed his windup and altered his mental approach.

“We all collectively challenged him over the offseason and said you can just come in here and work out, or you can try to change your career in a significant way,” said Dan DeLucia, the Red Sox minor league rehab pitching coach based in Fort Myers. “He’s a competitive guy and he was very open to the challenge.”

So far the work has paid off.

In five spring outings, including three starts, Winckowski allowed just two earned runs over 16 innings while striking out 17 and walking four. When the season began, the Red Sox slid him into the bullpen, partly because he proved an ability to bounce back quickly between outings. His success has carried over. Over the first week of the season, Winckowski proved his versatility and durability by pitching one-inning, two-inning and three-inning stints, allowing one run on four hits while striking out seven and walking one. Sunday, he pitched a scoreless inning in Boston’s 4-1 win over the Detroit Tigers, lowering his ERA to 1.29.
While Winckowski’s arm wasn’t quite ready to start throwing yet in late October, the first couple months of the offseason focused on lower body workouts to get a more stable base so he could repeat his delivery down the mound consistently.

In playing light catch with Winckowski over the first month or so of working together, DeLucia noticed that Winckowski would go over his head with his hands and was able to gather himself better to hit his target. The windup wasn’t something Winckowski normally did off the mound, so later in the winter when Winckowski started throwing bullpens, DeLucia suggested trying the windup action and it clicked, allowing Winckowski to be more consistent through his delivery on every pitch.
More at the link
https://theathletic.com/4391469/2023/04/10/josh-winckowski-rookie-season-rebuild/?source=user_shared_article
 
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Rovin Romine

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Thanks for the link and the specific quoted info (as it's a paid site.) If he retooled so much, part of his success may be that the book hasn't yet been updated on him.

I'm hoping he's not proctored here by Cora to balance starter deficiencies.
 

moondog80

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There's still hope for the Benintendi trade!

David Hamilton, all eyes are on you.
 

Remagellan

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Thanks for the link and the specific quoted info (as it's a paid site.) If he retooled so much, part of his success may be that the book hasn't yet been updated on him.

I'm hoping he's not proctored here by Cora to balance starter deficiencies.
I'm not sure entirely what you mean by that, but in his postgame interview last night Cora seemed to suggest that Winckowski and Crawford are being used to back up starters who can't go deep into games. So I guess we're going to see more instances of them each going 3+ innings rather than either being used as a 1+ inning setup man.
 

Rovin Romine

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I'm not sure entirely what you mean by that, but in his postgame interview last night Cora seemed to suggest that Winckowski and Crawford are being used to back up starters who can't go deep into games. So I guess we're going to see more instances of them each going 3+ innings rather than either being used as a 1+ inning setup man.
Mostly that this:
In five spring outings, including three starts, Winckowski allowed just two earned runs over 16 innings while striking out 17 and walking four. When the season began, the Red Sox slid him into the bullpen, partly because he proved an ability to bounce back quickly between outings. His success has carried over.
is a myth that's been used to justify abusing the arms of younger guys (who may indeed "bounce back" or "not feel it" until they don't bounce back, and do feel it) since before Dusty Baker began routinely uttering the line, "well he's got that ability to bounce back quickly, told me he felt just fine, and he seemed like he could handle it."

If Winckowski's new success is real and replicable, he's not an org-filler/long-man any more, and you shouldn't treat a young prime pitching arm cavalierly. So I hope that does not happen, no matter how shitty the starters are and how quickly it looks like Winckowski can "bounce back."
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Why is it surprising that this year’s version is “eclipsing “ last year’s version? He had less than 20 appearances last season, is young and without much miles on his arm or any injury. He didn’t look good last year but how many pitchers do in their first 20 appearances?
 

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I know different times, but I can't help but think of Bard. I hope I am wrong.
Bard wasn't abused or over-used though.


I think most of the concern about any Sox pitcher getting "Proctored" seems unnecessary. When was the last time any Red Sox manager overly relied on certain guys to the point where they were overused? The only one that immediately jumps to mind is Grady Little and Byung-Hyun Kim in 2003. Since then, whether it was Tito or BobbyV or Farrell or Cora, Theo or Cherington or Dombrowski or Bloom, the team has always seemed to err on the side of resting guys whether they need it or not. (see last Sunday when Ort and Brasier closed the game because Jansen and Schreiber were deemed "unavailable")

Winckowski has only worked on back to back days once so far, which was followed by 3 days off.

His use pattern overall:

1 inning (15 pitches)
day off
2 innings (28 pitches)
day off
day off
3 innings (51 pitches)
day off
day off
day off
day off
1 inning (12 pitches)
2 innings (28 pitches)
day off
day off
day off
3 innings (45 pitches)
day off
day off
day off
2 innings (28 pitches)
day off
day off
2.1 innings (41 pitches)

Considering that Crawford hasn't worked since Monday, he's the guy who will get the bulk innings the next time it's needed. Winckowski likely won't pitch again in Milwaukee unless there's an extra innings emergency situation. His pattern of use looks a lot like Whitlock's in 2021 and parts of 2022. I trust they know what they're doing here.
 

Rovin Romine

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Agreed. That's a recipe for an injury shortened career.
So far, there's nothing that alarming: https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.fcgi?id=winckjo01&t=p&year=2023

(Just beat to it by RHF)

Why is it surprising that this year’s version is “eclipsing “ last year’s version? He had less than 20 appearances last season, is young and without much miles on his arm or any injury. He didn’t look good last year but how many pitchers do in their first 20 appearances?
How many people thought that Winckowski would make the team as a reliever and log a 1.65 ERA in the first month's worth of games?

I sure didn't. I mean, I hoped he would be better than his 2023 showing, but this is more than I reasonably expected. Hence the surprise.
 

Rovin Romine

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I think most of the concern about any Sox pitcher getting "Proctored" seems unnecessary. When was the last time any Red Sox manager overly relied on certain guys to the point where they were overused?
I think Matt Barnes is probably exhibit A for recent times. He was the go-to guy for tight situations in the middle of games for a good long while. His workload was high, and he burnt out almost every year from the midpoint onward.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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So far, there's nothing that alarming: https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.fcgi?id=winckjo01&t=p&year=2023

(Just beat to it by RHF)



How many people thought that Winckowski would make the team as a reliever and log a 1.65 ERA in the first month's worth of games?

I sure didn't. I mean, I hoped he would be better than his 2023 showing, but this is more than I reasonably expected. Hence the surprise.
I didn’t think he’d be this good…. But I was honestly hoping for a long reliever role and figured he would definitely “eclipse” his first season. So I’m surprised he’s been great but not surprised he’s been good.

Still have a lot of games to go before making any judgements….. if Dalbec produced his August ‘21 in April of ‘21 we’d be feeling different about him by mid May of ‘21
 

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I know different times, but I can't help but think of Bard. I hope I am wrong.
Bard unfortunately had mental health problems not necessarily physical problems. What makes you think of Daniel Bard when talking about Wink? I don't see a link between the two? Please explain.
 

simplicio

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The cutter increase this year is mentioned in the article; his pitch mix really has been strikingly different. 63837
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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When Paxton comes up, either Winck or Crawford has to go down and slot into a regular starter's role, I'd think. That is the long term plan.
Not necessarily. Ort could (and probably should) be the one to go. Especially if they're bringing up Paxton to be a reliever.

Or they could go the Hellenic flu route with Kluber to open the roster spot and reduce the rotation back to five.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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Paxton to the bullpen is a possibility, too, if and when he’s ready. I don’t think he’s bumping anyone out of the rotation yet.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Paxton to the bullpen is a possibility, too, if and when he’s ready. I don’t think he’s bumping anyone out of the rotation yet.
Cora said before Paxton's last rehab outing that they were going to have him follow an opener a couple times so he could get used to coming into a game in progress. The idea being that they want him prepared should he have to go to the bullpen when he's activated.

Then Paxton got shelled and didn't last an inning in that outing. Hope the kinks get worked out regardless.
 

E5 Yaz

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First I'd heard about the Paxton after an opener plan. Geesh, is that really the best thing for a career-long starter coming off continual arm trouble to do? Do they expect him to be available several times a week?
 

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First I'd heard about the Paxton after an opener plan. Geesh, is that really the best thing for a career-long starter coming off continual arm trouble to do? Do they expect him to be available several times a week?
Cora kinda couched it in a "or we might need to shift him to the pen in September/October" vein as well. I think the idea would be he'd be a bulk guy like Winckowski and Crawford have been, if he indeed goes to the pen at all.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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It’s also probably a recognition that Paxton replacing anyone other than Kluber (who may not be a great candidate for the pen for the same reasons) doesn’t necessarily make a lot of sense in the near or long term. Who should Paxton replace from the current rotation? I guess you could make a case for him taking Pivetta’s spot, maybe. Could be value to a lefty who can go multiple innings once a week.

When does Paxton’s rehab stint end?
 

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Bard unfortunately had mental health problems not necessarily physical problems. What makes you think of Daniel Bard when talking about Wink? I don't see a link between the two? Please explain.
Maybe not the best comparison, but Winck was groomed as a starter his whole career with set days of rest. I get we need inning eaters in the bullpen, with the question marks of our current and those coming back off the IR. Maybe Bloom has the secret code from TB who sort of pioneered the opener strategy, I just worry about asking a kid who looks like he has figured out what works best for him (SS I know) and asking him to pitch 6 innings one week and 1 the next.

I have only coached little league so I don't have any real expertise to opine. I guess I am just a Red Sox fan who grew up in the late 60's -70's and is used to the worst case scenario playing out.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Maybe not the best comparison, but Winck was groomed as a starter his whole career with set days of rest. I get we need inning eaters in the bullpen, with the question marks of our current and those coming back off the IR. Maybe Bloom has the secret code from TB who sort of pioneered the opener strategy, I just worry about asking a kid who looks like he has figured out what works best for him (SS I know) and asking him to pitch 6 innings one week and 1 the next.

I have only coached little league so I don't have any real expertise to opine. I guess I am just a Red Sox fan who grew up in the late 60's -70's and is used to the worst case scenario playing out.
It's funny you mention the 60s/70s, because the vibe I'm starting to get from how Bloom/Cora have tried to integrate their young prospective starters seems like the old Earl Weaver approach of putting them in the bullpen to learn how to get big leaguers out before graduating to the rotation. Whitlock's situation was somewhat forced due to his rule 5 status, but they've also tried to use Houck in that manner, and now Winckowski and Crawford are in the same boat.

Regardless, they do seem to have usage locked down. It's not haphazard. Winckowski has thrown 4-5 innings per week so far. Done consistently all year, that could put him in the 90-100 inning range. High for a short reliever but low for a starting pitcher. Seems like the sweet spot for a long reliever/bulk guy.
 

simplicio

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First career save tonight, coming on the heels of a 30 pitch, 2 inning effort yesterday where he weathered Kiké's double errors. He's been so valuable this year, looking like another instance of a player turning an awful 2022 into excellence in 2023. If he can eventually translate that success back into starting that'd be nice, but no rush.