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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Josh Winckowski: 15 appearances (14 starts) with Red Sox in 2022

Red Sox pitcher Josh Winckowski
Red Sox pitcher Josh Winckowski / Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages

Josh Winckowski, like Kutter Crawford, was thrust into the starting rotation mix for the Red Sox in 2022 and struggled mightily. In his rookie season, he pitched 70.1 innings to the tune of a 5.89 ERA and 1.59 WHIP. One major concern, aside from general ineffectiveness, was his inability to miss bats. He struck out only 44 batters in those 70.1 innings, compared to 85 hits and 27 walks.

Despite his struggles last season, the Red Sox seem confident in Winckowski's ability to take a major step forward in 2023. He and Crawford are the only 2 Red Sox starters to log 3 full innings in a spring training game. Like Crawford, Winckowski has now pitched 5 innings in 2023. He has allowed 0 runs, while scattering 3 hits and 3 walks. Perhaps most notably, he has fanned 7.

During a NESN interview with Tom Caron, Winckowski shared that he was working on "a whole new grip" for his slide during the off-season. According to Baseball Savant, his slider was his second-most utilized pitch (28.6%), trailing only his sinker (38.4%).

If Josh Winckowski can get more consistent whiffs with his off-speed pitch and prove that he can spot his fastball more consistently, he could be considered as multi-inning reliever or spot starter in 2023. Winckowski is only 24 years old, so it isn't unreasonable to think that he could take a much-needed step forward this season. We'll see.