Boston Red Sox: Stop trying to make Mike Shawaryn a reliever
Mike Shawaryn could be a very good pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, they just need to stop trying to make him into something he’s not, a reliever.
At this time last year, Mike Shawaryn was an extremely exciting pitching prospect for the Boston Red Sox. Coming off his best season in the minors, many expected him to get the call-up to the Majors during the 2019 season.
In 2018, the right-handed pitcher split time between Double-A and Triple-A. During that season, he threw a career-high 149 1/3 innings for a 3.44 ERA and 1.13 WHIP with 132 strikeouts. That’s a really strong season.
All the cards were definitely in place for that call-up as he was one of the top prospects in the Red Sox organization. After a solid start to the year, it happened. Shawaryn was called up to the Majors on May 30.
At the time, Shawaryn had a solid 3.72 ERA in 55 2/3 innings (10 starts). He was a starter the whole time. However, the Red Sox called him up to help in the bullpen. Shawaryn made 14 appearances for Boston in 2019, he came out of the bullpen in all of them.
In total, Shawaryn threw 20 1/3 innings in the Majors. He gave up 22 earned runs on 26 hits and 13 walks in that time. That’s a 9.74 ERA, a .310 BAA and a 1.92 WHIP. Those are all really bad.
You could argue he simply wasn’t ready for the Majors, but wait, there’s more.
Shawaryn was sent back down to the minors. While there, he largely remained a reliever. He made 12 appearances as reliever back in Triple-A after his initial call-up to the Majors. In those appearances he pitched 17 innings, allowing 16 earned runs. He had an ERA of 8.47 and a WHIP of 1.82.
But wait, we still aren’t done here. Shawaryn also made four more starts in Triple-A after that initial call-up to the Majors. In those four starts, he allowed six runs in 17 innings (3.18 ERA).
All-in-all, Shawaryn ended with a 4.52 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP in Triple-A. However, he had that miserable 8.47 ERA and 1.82 WHIP as a reliever. As a starter, the righty boasted a 3.59 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP.
That’s not a coincidence.
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A lot of people benefit from a move to the bullpen. They aren’t pitching as long, which means they can let it all loose. This sometimes leads to added velocity, movement, spin and drop on pitches, as the pitchers are throwing harder.
It can work the other way around though. There’s a different routine. Suddenly you aren’t warming up all day knowing it’s your start. You get the call the inning before if you’re lucky, not really setting up the same routine.
That means it’s a whole different vibe. He’s not getting the same prep time, he has to prep more days than usual, with shorter rests in between and he might even be coming into an unclean inning.
All those (and more) are things that could throw a pitcher off.
Shawaryn clearly works better as a starter. It gives him time to settle into his game, and he’s not pressing as hard on the mound. Boston absolutely needs bullpen help. At the same time, they are pretty desperate for some starters though. So it’s not like Shawaryn can only be a reliever.
Before last season, MLB had Shawaryn as one of the Red Sox top prospects. Now they don’t even have him ranked in the Top-30. What changed? They tried making him a reliever. Even after that, he showed that he can succeed as a starter.
Please be smart Boston. Shawaryn is still just 25 and doesn’t turn 26 until September. He can have a long and successful career ahead of him. But that needs to happen as a starter. With the rotation in shambles, it would be in the Red Sox best interest to get him rotation ready ASAP.