Pedro Martinez Could Have Surprise Impact on Red Sox's 2024 Season

Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez may help his old team from afar in 2024.
Sep 27, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Brayan Bello (66) pitches
Sep 27, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Brayan Bello (66) pitches / Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

24-year-old Brayan Bello looks to be a star pitcher of the Boston Red Sox future, and he is getting a helping hand from a star pitcher of the Red Sox' past.

Bello worked out this offseason with Red Sox legend and first-ballot Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez in the pair's native Dominican Republic. Martinez has been high on the young hurler's potential, saying that Bello "has potential to be a Cy Young type of pitcher in the future" while acknowledging that he needs to show consistent improvement to take him to that next level.

One key element of Bello taking that next step, according to Martinez? The three-time Cy Young Award winner emphasized that Bello needed to develop an effective third pitch in addition to his plus fastball and plus change-up. So, that became exactly what the two Dominican pitchers focused on during their sessions on Martinez' property:

"I was able to work out with him three or four times [in the winter]. When I got there, my slider wasn't in the best shape. So he gave me a few tips. And that same day, I was able to get a good grip on it. I was throwing it consistently and then in the next few days, I was gaining more confidence with it. So yeah, it was a very good time that I spent with him and with Pedro and helping me to get my slider sharp."

Red Sox Pitcher Brayan Bello

Martinez was a beloved figure in Boston, dazzling on the mound for the Red Sox from 1998-2004. He racked up quite the list of accolades during his time in a Red Sox uniform and he was honored for his distinguished career with a first-ballot Hall of Fame selection in 2015. He dons a Red Sox cap in his Hall of Fame plaque in Cooperstown and his number 45 hangs in right field at Fenway Park.

Bello's 2023 numbers don't jump off of the page at you: he finished with a 12-11 record, 4.24 ERA, and 7.6 K/9, but he enjoyed a strong 13-start stretch from April 29 to July 14. During that 13-game stretch, Bello never allowed more than three runs in an outing, worked at least five innings in each start, and posted a 2.51 ERA.

On June 29, he took a no-hit bid into the eighth inning against the Miami Marlins. During this stretch, Sox fans and commentators alike felt that Bello had "arrived" and was in pole position to be Boston's ace of the future.

Bello fizzled out at the end of the season (hence his end of season stats), which isn't uncommon for young MLB pitchers as they are typically taking on the largest workload of baseball careers. Undoubtedly, all parties would like to see Bello extrapolate that 13-game stretch to a season of work.

Bello will also need to demonstrate a more consistent ability to find the zone. In his MLB career, he is averaging three walks per nine innings. New Red Sox pitching coach Andrew Bailey's philosophy stresses hitting the zone and limiting walks, saying "strikes are everything", so Bello will assuredly need to enhance that aspect of his game.

Back on Jan. 20, Bello stated his goal was to be Boston's Opening Day starter on the mound. Martinez, who started seven straight Opening Days for the Red Sox, would surely love to see his mentee follow in his footsteps.

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