Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 09: Nick Pivetta #37 of the Boston Red Sox pitches during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park on May 9, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

  • The Red Sox have been talking about six-man rotations seemingly forever. In the end, they almost always adhere to the traditional five-man model. Now, with James Paxton set to make his Red Sox debut on Friday, someone is destined to return to the bullpen.

    This is apparently news to Nick Pivetta, whose response to the six players-for-five spots dilemma seemed downright bizarre and ostrich-esque.

    Let’s back up for a minute. Prior to last night’s loss at Atlanta – in which Pivetta (2-3, 6.23) gave up four runs and a homer in the first inning – manager Alex Cora made it pretty clear that someone is headed to the bullpen. Paxton, Chris Sale and Corey Kluber – all longtime, veteran starters – are unlikely to be jettisoned. Brayan Bello is a potential long-term, franchise cornerstone. That leaves Pivetta and Tanner Houck, the latter of whom has more talent than Pivetta does.

    Could Houck be headed to the bullpen? Of course. And he has at least acknowledged that he is aware of the possibility (even if he doesn’t like it).

    Here is what Cora told reporters about the rotation before last night’s game:

  • So, how did Pivetta respond to all of this? First, he went out and pitched poorly. The Sox are now 3-4 in his seven starts, which isn’t horrible. Along with his record and ERA, he has allowed 36 hits, 15 walks and eight home runs in 34.2 innings. At the moment, Pivetta is 2.1 inning short of qualifying for the ERA title. If he had 37 innings, he’d rank 75th among 76 qualifying starters in ERA.

    And yet, when asked by Chris Cotillo of Mass Live whether he felt like he was competing for a spot in the rotation, Pivetta pulled the ostrich act.


  • Now, one final thing about Pivetta: if nothing else, as a starter, he has been durable. Since the start of the 2021 season, he is one of only 27 major league pitchers to have made at least 65 starts. That’s a good thing. The bad news: he ranks 26th among those 27 in ERA. And so … is Pivetta better employed as a medicore (at best starter) – or, potentially, as a decent option in the bullpen.

    Sooner or later, he may have no choice but to pull his head out of the sand and deal with it.

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