Competition for open spots in the Red Sox rotation is heating up

Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale
Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale / Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages
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The Boston Red Sox dealt with a plethora of injuries in 2022. Among the most memorable were those suffered by staff ace Chris Sale. The team ultimately finished in last place in the AL East with only 78 wins. The hope is that this season will be different.

Red Sox enter 2023 season with more quality starting pitching depth

While there have been a few minor setbacks suffered by starters Brayan Bello (forearm tightness) and James Paxton (grade 1 hamstring strain), things seem to be looking better *knock on wood* than last year. By this time in 2022, Chris Sale had fractured a rib and was expected to miss considerable time to start the season.

The Red Sox signed veteran free agent Corey Kluber this off-season, but aside from that there were no outside moves made to (directly) bolster the rotation. James Paxton exercised his 1-year, $4 million player option to return for the 2023 season, as well, but all other candidates for the rotation this season were already with the organization in 2022 (Houck, Pivetta, Sale, Crawford, Winckowski, Mata, Walter, and Murphy).

Based on several reports, it seems possible that the Red Sox begin the season with Brayan Bello, James Paxton, and Garrett Whitlock on the injured list. None of them are expected to miss significant time, but the team will likely be faced with a choice of who to slot into the rotation when facing the Tigers and Royals in early-April.

If Chris Sale starts on Opening Day against the Orioles, Corey Kluber and Nick Pivetta would presumably take the ball in games 2 and 3 of the opening series, respectively. But who do the Red Sox turn to after that? Let's take a look at how the remaining starting rotation candidates have fared so far this spring.