MLB Network's praise for Red Sox rotation provides reason for hope beyond 2024

Boston Red Sox v Minnesota Twins
Boston Red Sox v Minnesota Twins / David Berding/GettyImages

The Boston Red Sox's starting rotation has been the highlight of its season so far, and reporters and fans across MLB have been surprised by its dominance.

Brayan Bello, Nick Pivetta, Kutter Crawford, Garrett Whitlock and Tanner Houck have defied the odds. They and new pitching coach Andrew Bailey have transformed Boston's pitching staff so effectively that they're considered one of the most effective rotations in the league thus far.

Former MLB pitcher Dan Plesac agrees, and he highlighted the Sox's starters during a segment called "Dan's Hand" on MLB Tonight. The 18-year MLB veteran layered praise onto Houck, Crawford, Bello and Whitlock for their early-season performances and their strikingly low ERAs.

Pivetta's stats were not mentioned in the MLBN segment, likely because he only made two starts before he was sent to the injured list, but the righty has also shown out for Boston. He's logged a 0.82 ERA over 11 innings before his return against the Braves this week.

Plesac also made sure to give pitching coach Bailey his share of the credit. Bailey's philosophies have helped Boston's hurlers find their best approach on the mound -- and for everyone except Bello, that's throwing more breaking pitches.

MLB Network's Dan Plesac praises Red Sox starting rotation as one of the best in the league

Another key to Bailey's methods is trusting a pitcher's best stuff. He doesn't encourage hurlers to throw a fastball if theirs is frequently hit. Bello's two-seam fastball is his best pitch and it's still collecting him good results, but Houck, for example, has dominated with his slider and he's thrown greatly limited his four-seamer this season.

Along with the high praise, Plesac gave the Red Sox's rotation his vote of confidence. He thinks Bailey's teachings make Boston's success sustainable in the long term, and players who previously thrived under Bailey's coaching are still showing quality results.

San Francisco Giants hurler Logan Webb earned Cy Young votes in 2022 and 2023 while Bailey coached in the Bay Area. Webb's ERA has ticked up to a still-great 3.50 in 2024, and he has months of baseball left to improve that number.

It could be argued that Plesac should have placed the Red Sox's starting rotation in the No. 2 slot and the Mariners' at No. 3. Boston's hurlers have posted better numbers than Seattle's in the early going of the 2024 campaign, but Seattle's rotation is star-studded. Logan Gilbert and Luis Castillo are not to be messed with at the top of their game, so Plesac's pecking order is understandable.

Many fans and reporters doubted that the Red Sox's rotation would be unable to continue its early-season success into the middle of the campaign. But Bailey's repeatable pitching lessons and philosophies have proven otherwise after seven weeks, and they've transformed Boston's pitching staff into one of the strongest in baseball.

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