The writing is on the wall for the Boston Red Sox to call up a talented pitching prospect to fill in for the upcoming series against the Texas Rangers.
After a career-high 82 pitches from Garrett Whitlock on Tuesday — a game in which he was not as sharp as fans are accustomed to seeing — manager Alex Cora has decided to push his start back, creating two openings in the rotation for the weekend series with the Rangers. The other hole in the rotation was created by Rich Hill’s bout with COVID-19. Boston is not sure when he will return.
“Whitlock is being pushed back to Monday,” The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham tweeted on Wednesday. “To Be Announced for Saturday and Sunday. They’re hoping Hill takes one. Cora suggested a bullpen game for the other. But have to think (Connor) Seabold or (Josh) Winckowski are possibilities.”
The Red Sox made no mention of a potential call-up, but their actions indicate as much. Winckowski started on Wednesday for Triple-A Worcester, but was pulled after just two innings. The right-hander allowed a hit, walk and struck out two in 32 pitches. The only logical explanation for the early hook outside of an undisclosed injury would be that the Red Sox either plan to start him this weekend, or are using him as an insurance policy if Hill cannot clear protocols in time.
If Hill does return, Boston could realistically get by without a spot starter, and rely on a combination of relievers, including multiple innings from swingman Tanner Houck. It would be much more difficult though to make it through two games without a spot start.
Winckowski has had a great start to the season and could make an impact if called upon. So far in Triple-A, he is 1-0 with a 2.75 ERA with 19 strikeouts and five walks across five starts (19 2/3 innings).