Boston Red Sox pitching staff set to face its biggest test yet

Kutter Crawford #50 of the Boston Red Sox (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Kutter Crawford #50 of the Boston Red Sox (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

The Boston Red Sox have continued to roll through their opponents as of late. They just won eight of their 10 games on their west coast road trip, which unsurprisingly resulted in them winning each of the three series they played in. Now they will return to the friendly confines of Fenway Park for a nice nine game homestand.

Despite all the winning, it hasn’t really made much of a difference in the AL East standings, because every other team ahead of them keeps on winning too. Boston currently occupies the new third wild card spot in the American League, but there’s still a lot of baseball left to be played this season.

And the degree of difficult for that baseball is about to get increased very quickly. With Garrett Whitlock and Nathan Eovaldi both heading to the injured list for the time being, an already pieced-together pitching staff is going to have to shoulder an even bigger burden for the next couple of weeks. How well they perform could ultimately determine how the remainder of the season goes.

The Boston Red Sox need their pitching to stay solid over the next few weeks

Boston’s pitching staff has been a revelation for the second straight season. After a slow start, the starting rotation has quietly become one of the best in the league, and the bullpen has generally seen most of their guys settle into their specific roles.

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But now they will have to overcome the loss of their two best pitchers in Eovaldi and Whitlock. Their losses cannot be overstated. Eovaldi has led the starting rotation all season long, and Whitlock has somehow managed to make the transition from bullpen ace to reliable starter without many issues so far.

That’s going to put a strain on an already thin pitching staff. The team had really been holding out for the potential returns of Chris Sale and James Paxton later this season. Now they are going to have to focus on doing the same thing, but without Eovaldi and Whitlock there to help.

If Boston wants to survive this stretch, they are going to need more outings like the one they got from Kutter Crawford on Sunday afternoon against the Seattle Mariners. Crawford spun five scorelees innings of one-hit ball against Seattle before turning things over to the bullpen who helped preserve the shutout.

This isn’t to say that the starters have been bad recently, because they haven’t been; it’s been quite the opposite as a matter of fact. But guys like Crawford coming in and doing their part is huge. Crawford hadn’t pitched in the majors in nearly a month due to his struggles to open the season, but he stepped up in a big way when called upon to finish off the Mariners.

While Nick Pivetta and Michael Wacha can hold down the starting rotation for the time being, other guys are going to have to step up. Josh Winckowski is probably going to have to make a spot start or two along the way, and he’s going to need to step up just like Crawford did. Tanner Houck, who has been solid in Whitlock’s old role in the bullpen this season, may be needed to start a game too.

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Whatever the case is, the Boston Red Sox are going to need pitchers who weren’t really expected to contribute much this season to step up in a big way through the rest of June. If they can stay afloat long enough for Eovaldi, Whitlock, and maybe even Sale, to return, then this team could be on the verge of putting together a big second half run.

But first, they have to keep things together in the present, and it will prove to be the team’s biggest challenge of the season yet.