Red Sox Notes: Crawford, Mata, Yoshida

Red Sox Notes: Crawford, Mata, Yoshida


While the Red Sox indicated early in the offseason that addressing the starting rotation would be a priority for the club this winter, it seems they’ll go into the 2024 season having only swapped out Chris Sale for Lucas Giolito, at least barring a late bid for Jordan Montgomery. Should the club stick with its internal options for the rotation mix, Sean McAdam of MassLive relayed comments from manager Alex Cora regarding the state of the rotation yesterday. Per McAdam, Cora suggested that right-handers Lucas Giolito, Brayan Bello, and Nick Pivetta are all locked into the rotation to open the season. Meanwhile, McAdam adds that Cora indicated Kutter Crawford would have a “leg up” over each of Garrett Whitlock, Tanner Houck, and Josh Winckowski in the battle for the final two rotation spots.

That Giolito and Bello are locked into rotation spots entering the season is hardly a surprise, given the pair are the only two hurlers on the club’s staff to make at least 25 starts last year. Likewise, it’s hardly a surprise to hear that Whitlock, Houck, and Winckowski are under consideration for a role at the back of the club’s rotation. Each righty made at least one start for the club last year and the trio of young hurlers all figure to be key pieces of the club’s pitching plans this season, whether in starting roles or in relief.

That being said, it’s something of a surprise that Cora indicated Pivetta has a more firm grasp on a rotation spot than Crawford. The 31-year-old Pivetta was dominant for the Red Sox in a multi-inning relief last year with a 3.05 ERA in 55 2/3 innings of work, while he pitched to a far more pedestrian 4.66 ERA in sixteen starts in 2023. Crawford, by contrast, Made 23 starts for the Red Sox last year and pitched to a 4.20 ERA with an excellent 3.64 FIP after joining the rotation full time in early June. Cora’s characterization of Crawford’s position in the rotation mix also represent a slight departure from comments chief baseball officer Craig Breslow made last month, where he suggested that Giolito, Bello, Pivetta, and Crawford all were set to enter camp as members of the rotation.

More from around Red Sox camp…

Right-hander Bryan Mata has been shut down due to a pulled hamstring, Alex Cora told reporters (including MassLive’s Chris Cotillo) this morning. A timetable for Mata’s return is not yet clear. The 24-year-old right-hander has not yet made his big league debut but figured to enter Spring Training with a strong chance to earn a job in the club’s bullpen this spring. Mata does not have options remaining, meaning that he must be carried on the club’s active roster or else designated for assignment and exposed to waivers, running the risk that a rival club would claim him. If Mata’s absence proves to be a lengthy one, of course, he could open the season on the 15- or 60-day injured list, thereby delaying the need for Boston to make a decision regarding his future.
WEEI’s Rob Bradford spoke to outfielder Masataka Yoshida today, and Yoshida revealed that he underwent surgery on his jaw shortly after the 2023 season. According to Yoshida, the issue didn’t “necessarily” impact him from a baseball perspective during the 2023 season, though he noted that the surgery alleviated discomfort that nagged him during everyday use of his jaw. Yoshida appeared in 140 games for Boston during his first MLB season last year, slashing a respectable .289/.338/.445 in the first year of his five-year, $90MM pact with the Red Sox. Yoshida figures to look to improve on his 2023 campaign this season after he slowed down a bit in the second half last year, slashing just .254/.278/.386 over his final 62 games after entering the All Star break with an excellent .316/.382/.492 slash line.


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