Brandon Walter, Bryan Mata, Chris Murphy (and more): The youth movement has begun
As previously mentioned, there are some concerns about Red Sox starters (Whitlock, Bello, Paxton) potentially not being ready to pitch by Opening Day. If they start the season on the Injured List, the rotation will almost certainly feature Chris Sale, Corey Kluber, and Nick Pivetta.
That leaves the final 2 spots open for the following contenders: Tanner Houck, Kutter Crawford, Josh Winckowski, Brandon Walter, Bryan Mata, and Chris Murphy. Based strictly off MLB service time and prior big-league performances, Houck and Crawford would have the edge.
With that said, it feels like there is still an outside chance that a guy like Walter, Mata, or Murphy, with no prior MLB service time, forces the Red Sox organization's hand and earns a spot on the Opening Day roster.
It's only spring training, but so far these "kids" have shown that the youth movement in Boston is real and it has only just begun. And Josh Winckowski has also performed well, making the competition for a roster even more highly contested.
2023 Spring Training Stats
Bryan Mata (23 years old): 2.0 innings, 0 hits, 0 runs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts
Brandon Walter (26 years old): 3.0 innings, 1 hit, 0 runs, 0 walks, 5 strikeouts
Chris Murphy (24 years old): 2.2 innings, 1 hit, 0 runs, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts
Josh Winckowski (24 years old): 5.0 innings, 3 hits, 0 runs, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts
Health setbacks are never desirable, but the Red Sox are faced with a "good problem" in the sense that they have plenty of promising, young pitchers who are hungry to prove they can succeed at the highest level.
Red Sox fans will likely get to see some pitchers with truly electric stuff make their mark during the 2023 season. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show!
Other surprise impact candidates (honorable mentions): Ryan Sherriff, Taylor Broadway, Cam Booser