Boston desperately needs to stop making the same mistake

The Red Sox are considering a mobile star reliever for the rotation next season

Boston desperately needs to stop making the same mistake.

   BOSTON RED SOX If Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora has one fault, it’s his tenacity to find top relievers and turn them into below-average starters. Whenever a young pitcher has found his groove in a role in recent years, Cora tries to elevate him to another role as quickly as possible. He seems ready to do it again and not learn from his past mistakes.

   “This guy (Josh Winckowski) can be a starter in the big leagues, but then we have to decide what we’re going to do,” Cora told MassLive’s Christopher Smith. “I’m not saying that’s the way we’re going to go,” Cora said. “He can do both. But he was really good there (in the bullpen) between him, Kenley (Jansen) and Marty (Chris Martin).

   They gave us three quality arms when we were in the lead or in tight games. He did. that… Great job.” Cora even admitted that Winckowski had better things to do when he walked many in just one inning. Yet here he is again trying to get too much out of a player who has found a role in which he thrives. Garrett Whitlock, Tanner Houck and Kutter Crawford are in the same shape. Some of their role changes this season have been out of necessity, but the overall trend is very depressing. Whitlock, in particular, seems to be breaking down under the increased workload of a starting pitcher, mainly due to constant role changes and a growing number of injuries.

   He may never return to his 2021-22 reign. Crawford looked the best of the aforementioned pitchers in a starting role, but he posted a 4.51 ERA as a starter and a 1.66 ERA this season. Houck has a career 4.17 ERA as a starter and a 2.68 ERA coming out of the bullpen. Even his starting numbers only amount to him being removed from the game before he sees the lineup a third time. Almost every time Cora tried to push him past it, he got blown up.

   Winckowski has looked to be a true standout as a high-leverage reliever, but it’s nearly impossible for him to become a reliable starter. The 25-year-old posted a 2.88 ERA with an 82-31 strikeout-to-walk ratio, a .267 batting average and a 1.42 WHIP in 84 1/3 innings this season.

   While the results have been strong, the numbers behind him aren’t very encouraging moving forward — especially if Boston puts him in the rotation. Winckowski allowed too many base runs, resulting in a 3.91 FIP. In other words, his season was so strong because the dam never broke, but he tested those waters many times. With a larger sample size and the pressure of 100 pitches, he has too many explosive innings to keep Boston in all five games.   

   Winckowski can build an arm with great leverage in his current role that can stretch two or three innings at times, but he shouldn’t be thrown into an entirely new role next season.

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