The Boston Red Sox leaned heavily on Nick Pivetta to perform a valuable hybrid role, which the 30-year-old handled well.

It’s not ideal to shift back and forth between bullpen and starting appearances, but Pivetta welcomed the challenge. He finished the season off with back-to-back seven-inning shutout outings, becoming the first Red Sox pitcher to do so since Roger Clemens in 1987. That, coupled with Pivetta’s ongoing ability to eat up a huge chunk of innings for a full season, could earn him a starter’s role next season, according to Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

“We’ve been telling our guys to be ready to be a starter until somebody tells you the opposite,” Cora told WEEI’s Rob Bradford on Audacy’s “Baseball Isn’t Boring” podcast Friday. “(Pivetta) gives you innings, he stays healthy, his stuff is getting better. I don’t see why not he can’t be a starter next season.”

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Pivetta is booked to finish second in innings thrown (142 2/3) among Boston pitchers, behind Brayan Bello (157), but does lead the team in strikeouts (183). That reliability has worked in Pivetta’s favor since joining the Red Sox in 2020; earning the organization’s trust to take the mound in big spots.

In 2023, Pivetta finished 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA and a 31.1 strikeout percentage, which marked the seventh-highest in Red Sox history by a pitcher with 100-plus innings thrown in a single season.

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“Overall, physically, I have no doubts that he can do whatever he wants as far as like innings,” Cora explained. “But from my end, I think structure and kind of like help him out go through his routine and work on his delivery. Which also was probably beneficial to him because it took the thought process out of it. … I do believe he can start.”

Featured image via Eric Canha/USA TODAY Sports Images