With the Red Sox season taking on water at an alarming rate and two more key members of team hitting the injured list, it’s time to start planning for next year. Before reaching the bottom of the Atlantic, the Red Sox should gently guide the ship into the harbor and begin repairs. Now is the time to see what pieces need fixing and what looks salvageable for the 2023 journey.
Here are some things I’d like to see from the Red Sox before this year is out to give the team more information before next season:
Put Josh Winckowski InThe Bullpen
I’ve been clamoring for this for a while, but the injuries to the starting rotation haven’t let up all year. Nathan Eovaldi hitting the IL ensures that Wink will stay in the rotation at least until another starter gets healthy. But when that happens, let’s see how his stuff looks in relief. I like Winckowski and he’s had some good starts this year, but his 5.83 ERA and 5.3 % K-BB rate leave a lot to be desired. Just look at his Statcast data, he can’t generate any whiffs:
Of the 166 pitchers with 60 or more innings pitched, Winckowski has the seventh lowest strikeout-to-walk rate in baseball, and the fifth worst batting average against at .295. Part of the problem is that he is overly reliant on a four-seam fastball/sinker combination that simply doesn’t miss enough bats, and his only real out-pitch is his slider. Send him to the pen and see if his velocity can play up on his hard stuff in shorter stints. It’s worth a shot, because we know that, baring some massive improvement in stuff, he is not a viable starter in 2023.
Call Up Eduard Bazardo, Zach Kelly, And Frank German
All three of these right-handed bullpen arms are now pitching at Triple-A Worcester and having success. Bazardo and Kelly are both 27-years-old and eligible for minor league free agency at the end of this year. Let’s see if either of these guys can do better than what the backend of this bullpen has given us so far - unfortunately, it’s not a high bar to clear.
The benefit of calling up Bazardo and Kelly isn’t just to see if they can help in 2023, but also to take some strain off of guys like Garrett Whitlock and Jon Schreiber. Schreiber in particular has looked gassed lately; why waste his bullets in what seems like a lost season?
German is not a minor league free agent, so there’s less urgency with him. But he has the best stuff out of all three of these pitchers. German came over from the Yankees in the Adam Ottavino trade and currently ranks as the 30th best prospect in the Red Sox system according to SoxProspects.com. His stuff features an upper 90’s fastball with life, a nasty splitter, and a slider. I saw him at Portland earlier in the summer and came home very impressed. German is dominating at Triple-A and is nearly 25-years-old, it’s time to see what he can do.
Bloom has shown us he prefers to spend money elsewhere on the field rather than on volatile bullpen arms. This pen is in desperate need of an overhaul in 2023, let’s see what options the team has internally.
Give Triston Casas A Cup Of Coffee
Eric Hosmer just went on the IL, it’s late August, and the Red Sox have the nerve to make me watch more Franchy Cordero? Good lord, have mercy on us! How is it not time for Casas, who, if called up right now, would still be eligible for the Rookie of the Year Award race in 2023? I realize he hasn’t exactly dominated, but in August he’s been very good, slashing .305/.431/.492 with a 149 wRC+ over 17 games. His power has come from eight doubles and just one home run, but his defense is excellent and his massive frame portends more power to follow.
We know what Cordero is and more importantly we know he’s not part of the future. I understand that you’d ideally want to wait for Casas to start mashing homers all over the place in Triple-A but perhaps a little motivation in the taste of life at the big league level is what he needs. It would also give us fans a reason to watch the team in an otherwise down year.