Red Sox plan to call up Josh Winckowski to start in his MLB debut

FT. MYERS, FL - MARCH 13: Josh Winckowski of the Boston Red Sox throws during a spring training team workout on March 13, 2022 at jetBlue Park at Fenway South in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
FT. MYERS, FL - MARCH 13: Josh Winckowski of the Boston Red Sox throws during a spring training team workout on March 13, 2022 at jetBlue Park at Fenway South in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /
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Red Sox prospect Josh Winckowski is preparing for his MLB debut

The Boston Red Sox will host the Baltimore Orioles for a doubleheader at Fenway Park on Saturday. Nathan Eovaldi is slated to take the mound for the day game but the team hasn’t officially listed a starter for the nightcap. According to MassLive’s Chris Cotillo, Josh Winckowski is expected to make his major league debut as the starter in the second game of that doubleheader.

Manager Alex Cora stated on Wednesday that “if everything goes accordingly,” Winckowski will get called up for a spot start this weekend. Winckowski last pitched for the Triple-A WooSox on Sunday and threw a bullpen session the next day.

Teams can add a 27th man to their roster for doubleheaders, allowing the Red Sox to call up Winckowski without making a corresponding roster move. Assuming the team doesn’t make any additional roster tweaks in the meantime, his brief stint in the big leagues will be limited to one start.

A 40-man roster move wouldn’t be warranted for a short-term solution, which limited Boston’s options. Connor Seabold has been excellent this season but he’s currently sidelined by a pectoral strain. The recently demoted Kutter Crawford started Wednesday’s game for the WooSox and wouldn’t be ready to go by this weekend. There’s plenty of hype surrounding the emerging Brayan Bello but the Red Sox can’t rush their top pitching prospect after he’s made only two appearances at the Triple-A level.

That leaves Winckowski as the last man standing for viable options to call up from Triple-A. It was either that or a bullpen game, but considering the lack of depth in Boston’s bullpen and the concern that they will need to burn through some of their relievers in the day game, that wouldn’t be a desirable option.

Even if he was the only option, Winckowski is still a good one. The right-hander is 1-1 with a 3.13 ERA, 0.853 WHIP, 9.7 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 in seven starts in Triple-A this season.

MLB Pipeline ranks Winckowski as the No. 13 prospect in the Red Sox farm system. He saw an uptick in velocity last year and his mid-90s four-seam fastball can reach the 98-99 mph range at times. He compliments it with a sinking low-90s fastball that has more movement. His best pitch is a power breaking ball that is somewhere between a slider and a curveball.

The Red Sox acquired Winckowski in the Andrew Benintendi trade. So far, Boston doesn’t have much to show for the package they received for their 2015 first-round pick. Franchy Cordero is starting to contribute, delivering a walk-off grand slam against the Seattle Mariners last weekend, but his modest production isn’t nearly enough to make Red Sox fans forget about Benny.

Winckowski could be the next piece to tip the scales a bit more in Boston’s favor. This deal was always about quantity over quality. The Red Sox added depth in exchange for a player they felt was expendable at the time. That plan only works if some of the prospects they acquired provide value at some point.

Winckowski’s first stint in the majors is expected to be a short one but an impressive debut would put him in line for future opportunities.

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