Cooper Criswell’s Monday start might have saved his case to join Red Sox starting rotation

Pittsburgh Pirates v Boston Red Sox
Pittsburgh Pirates v Boston Red Sox / Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages

The Boston Red Sox had one starting rotation spot up for grabs before the shocking injury to Lucas Giolito opened another.

Giolito was Boston's only starting pitcher acquisition this offseason. But a pitcher with Triple-A starting experience has been showing out to try and earn a spot in the rotation.

Cooper Criswell has been making a statement for the Red Sox. His March 11 start against the Pirates was his best start yet.

Criswell posted four strikeouts and no earned runs over his 3.2 innings on the mound. He allowed two hits, but nothing came of them.

The 27-year-old wasn't a highly-touted signing this winter, but in his four Grapefruit League starts, he's making people regret not paying attention. Criswell has pitched to a 3.48 ERA over 10.1 innings. He's let up 10 hits, one a homer, and four earned runs, but his 10 strikeouts are doing most of the talking.

Cooper Criswell is competing for a spot in the Red Sox starting rotation

Criswell was told to prepare as a starter this spring training and the Sox's choice to transition him out of the bullpen could pay off. He's facing some competition from other Boston pitchers jonesing for a starting spot, though, including Josh Winckowski, Garrett Whitlock and Tanner Houck, who's been putting on a show of his own.

Many fans and reporters believed that Criswell would begin his 2024 season in Triple-A, and while that's still possible given Houck's spring showings and Winckowski's starting pitching experience, the case for Criswell is better than many imagined it would be. Granted, there were also two sure-fire starters in the rotation when the first round of roster projections reached publication, but the injury to Gioltio has halved that number.

Even if Criswell's season begins in Worcester, Sox fans have been happy with his production. He'll serve as a great fallback option if an injury were to occur anywhere in the pitching staff, from the rotation to the 'pen.

And if he makes the starting rotation, it'll be because he earned it with performances like the one from March 11.

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