Red Sox Trying Something New In Injured Starter’s Return

James Paxton the reliever?


Apr 18, 2023

The first few weeks of the 2023 season haven’t provided the Boston Red Sox with tremendous production out of their pitching staff.

They do have bodies, however.

Despite seeing a number of pitchers make their way on and off the injured list, the Red Sox entered play Tuesday planning to deploy a six-man rotation (Chris Sale, Corey Kluber, Tanner Houck, Nick Pivetta, Garrett Whitlock and Brayan Bello) over the coming weeks. Boston has also seen a couple of pitchers force its hand with solid performances, as Kutter Crawford and Josh Winckowski have turned themselves into reliable relievers in the bullpen.

So, what do they do with James Paxton when he eventually gets back?

Paxton is set to throw five innings Wednesday for Triple-A Worcester, but won’t start. The Woo Sox are planning on using Taylor Broadway as an opener, according to Jen McCaffrey of The Athletic. The reason? Red Sox manager Alex Cora explained Tuesday.

“Why not try once, you never know what can happen,” Cora said, according to McCaffrey. “He can come as a starter here or maybe in September, he might have to come out of the bullpen. We haven’t made decisions yet. But I think it’s good for him to get at least one trial of that.”

The Red Sox have previously mentioned that they’d like to stretch Paxton out, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he needs to be a starter. Boston saw a first-hand example of how valuable an opener may be for pitchers, as Crawford put together a tremendous performance on Patriots’ Day following Bello’s start.

After watching Kluber struggle to go deep into outings, perhaps the Red Sox could stack him and Paxton in an attempt to eat innings.

The rehab has gone well for Paxton, and the eventual debut for Boston could become an influential one in its season.

Thumbnail photo via Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports Images
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