The Boston Red Sox arrive at the end of the 2023 season with a pitching staff that has battled overuse and inconsistencies throughout the season.

Young starters in Kutter Crawford and Brayan Bello have emerged in the rotation while relievers Josh Winckowski, Chris Martin and Kenley Jansen have flourished from the start.

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On the other hand, the bullpen arms became highly taxed as the end of the summer after starters endured a stretch where the starters were not consistently finishing five innings. Starters such as Chris Sale, Tanner Houck, James Paxton in addition to Bello and Crawford all lacked depth to starts at times over the last two months that left the bullpen in a tough place, especially during a stretch of 16 games in 16 days.

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While the staff failed to pitch deep into games with quality outings, help from the field was not always available either.

When the Red Sox got starting pitching, the team succeeded, such as during a hot month of July and a recent stretch of nine starts of starters pitching through the fifth inning.

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“I do believe we need innings from the starting rotation,” Alex Cora told MassLive’s Chris Cotillo on the Fenway Rundown podcast. “That’s very clear. Right now, we’re in a run where guys are giving us six innings and you see the quality of baseball, right? For X and Y reasons, our defense put them in a bad spot, too. It wasn’t just the guys on the mound. We didn’t play good defense for a while.”

The Red Sox could absolutely be in the market for a front-line starting pitcher to lead the rotation this winter, whether via trade or through free agency. Cora believes that Boston has a foundation of good, young pitchers that would fill in well with top talent.

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“We’ve got something that other organizations would love to have: good, cheap pitching,” Cora explained. “You’ve got Houck, Crawford, Winckowski and Murphy. Guys that came up here and did an amazing job. Obviously, I don’t know what the offseason is going to bring. I do feel very comfortable with this group of guys. Understanding that they’re going to go through ups and downs like every young group. You keep preaching the game and you help them out. This is what we want. This is what we expect. They’ll be ready for spring training.”

Boston looks to see an encouraging finish from the starting rotation entering a highly important 2024 campaign.

Featured image via Eric Canha/USA TODAY Sports Images