Alex Cora comments on Lucas Giolito’s Red Sox debut, starting rotation battle

Minnesota Twins v Boston Red Sox
Minnesota Twins v Boston Red Sox / Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages

Lucas Giolito made his first start as a Boston Red Sox in the Grapefruit League. The Sox's biggest offseason acquisition faced the Minnesota Twins as his opening test.

Giolito posted two scoreless innings without allowing a hit on Sunday afternoon. He gave up a walk to Matt Wallner and struck out Emmanuel Rodriguez in his abbreviated outing.

The righty was shocked by the crowd turnout at JetBlue Park for the game and he said he's excited to play in Boston after such a warm reception from fans.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora also gave Giolito credit for his first Sox start.

“He was good. Fastball was good. Changeup was good,” Cora said. “Obviously, the walk, he doesn’t want it, but he felt good before the game. I do believe where he’s at right now physically, probably three innings he could have done, but obviously we’re going to stick to the program. But it was a good first outing.”

Cora's comments serve as yet another flash of optimism for Boston fans about the state of the rotation. Last season, Giolito was plagued by the long ball — he gave up 41 homers, the most by any pitcher in the American League — and hearing that he seems to have control is good news for the squad.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora praised Lucas Giolito for his first start and listed the potential starting rotation

Giolito is also known for his durability, which is another need for Boston. He led the AL in starts last season and he could have pitched many more innings if he had better command. Cora's credit to Giolito is one small step in the right direction for Boston's pitching staff.

Before the Sox's Grapefruit League opener, Cora made some comments about the state of the starting rotation, which has been the highest-profile of Boston's issues over recent years. Giolito is, of course, a given in the starting rotation, but many of the other spots have been regarded as up in the air.

Cora's recent statements have confirmed many reporters' rotation predictions that there are four almost-certain choices and a last spot for which multiple pitchers are still in the mix.

“As of now, if everything stays the same and they’re healthy, obviously Lucas is in the rotation and Nick [Pivetta] is in the rotation. Brayan [Bello] too," Cora said. "We believe Kutter [Crawford] is a starter, but obviously, we have to make decisions accordingly. . . Or let’s say he has the lead in that one, let’s put it that way."

Pivetta and Crawford both pitched well last year in comparison to the rest of Boston's staff, so their spots in the rotation have been widely speculated and well-earned. The fifth starting spot will most likely go to Tanner Houck, Josh Winckowski or Garrett Whitlock, again, as many experts have predicted.

News has recently broken that the Red Sox have been in contact with Jordan Montgomery and his agent Scott Boras. If Boston makes a deal with Montgomery, the rotation would most likely be Bello, Montgomery, Giolito, Pivetta and Crawford with the rest of the players in the battle for the fifth spot in the bullpen.

Signing Montgomery would certainly make the Red Sox's starting rotation woes much easier to figure out. Having him and Giolito in the same rotation would offer a solid foundation of veteran starters for the Sox to build on for 2024 and the future.

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