Red Sox starting pitcher Rich Hill suffered a left knee sprain in his start Friday against the Chicago Cubs. Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

The way Rich Hill and Alex Cora were talking to reporters in Chicago after the Boston’s 6-5 loss to the Cubs on Friday afternoon, it didn’t sound like Hill would be getting back on a mound anytime soon. Saturday afternoon, Hill was placed on the 15-day injured list with a sprained left knee.

But if there’s one area the Red Sox are prepared to test their depth, it’s in the starting rotation.

Chaim Bloom and Co. deserve some credit here.

The 42-year-old Hill wasn’t a significant offseason signing, with a $5 million salary that hardly put a dent into the Red Sox payroll. That he has a 4.20 ERA, has been inconsistent and could now miss significant time with a left knee sprain – he said he’ll know more in the coming days, but mentioned a similar injury to his medial collateral ligament in 2019, when he made only 13 starts for the Dodgers – isn’t the end of the world.

The Sox have gone 8-7 when Hill starts. They were previously piggy-backing him with Tanner Houck or Garrett Whitlock and it worked well for a while, but then plans changed.

To have made it this far into the season with a starting rotation that began the year with Hill, Houck, Michael Wacha, Nick Pivetta and Nathan Eovaldi is quite impressive. And while Houck is now in the bullpen and Eovaldi is on the injured list, the rotation hasn’t missed a beat.


Some days it’s hard to remember that the Red Sox have been without two of their best pitchers for almost a month. Whitlock and Eovaldi made back-to-back starts on June 7 and 8, then both of them landed on the IL and haven’t been seen since. In that span, Sox starters have gone 10-4 with a 3.76 ERA while averaging between five and six innings per outing.

They’ve done it with a remarkable hot streak from Pivetta, who has looked like one of the best pitchers on the planet over his last 11 starts, going 8-1 with a 1.95 ERA.

The other guy who was traded from the Phillies along with Pivetta in the 2020 deal that sent Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree to Philadelphia, Connor Seabold, has also made an impact, albeit a strange one. He allowed seven runs in a loss to the Blue Jays this week, but struck out seven batters and prompted David Price to text Cora and tell him how impressed he was.

Two others have come up from Worcester to pitch over the last month: Josh Winckowski and Kutter Crawford. The Sox have gone 4-1 in their starts.

Through less than half the season, the Sox have already used 10 different starters. And yet they rank seventh in MLB with a 3.57 ERA.

It’s the first time in a while that a Red Sox team has displayed this type of quality depth in the rotation. Consider that in 2020, the Red Sox used 11 different starting pitchers in their first 22 games alone, which tied the MLB record.


Two years later and the Sox have a starting staff that can withstand the loss of Chris Sale, Eovaldi and Whitlock.

Sale is on his way back soon. After an impressive start for the Sea Dogs in Portland on Thursday, when he touched 96 mph on the radar gun, Sale will likely pitch Wednesday in Worcester for his final tune-up. He could return to the big league team as early as July 11 for a road game against the Rays.

Eovaldi threw a bullpen session this week, the first time he’s thrown off a mound since his injury. And Whitlock was on the schedule for a bullpen session Saturday, which could be his last step before a rehab assignment.

Keep in mind the Sox also have James Paxton, one of the game’s premier left-handers when he’s healthy. Paxton is recovering from Tommy John surgery and likely won’t be ready for big league games until late August or September, but is another quality arm to consider. And don’t forget about prospect Brayan Bello, who has 64 strikeouts in 46 innings with a 3.13 ERA since his promotion to Triple-A.

The Sox are considering moving Whitlock back to the bullpen, and it’s no wonder why. They’re loaded with starting pitcher depth.

Sure, you can ask why the Sox started the season with Whitlock in the bullpen, moved him to the rotation and now are going to move him back to relief again all in the span of three months. For a guy who just returned from Tommy John surgery last year and is considered one of the organization’s most talented young arms, it seems like a lot of roping around to do.

The name Daniel Bard rings a bell.

But the bottom line is that Boston’s biggest need right now is in relief (just as it was when they moved Whitlock to the rotation, to be fair).

One way or another, the rotation is going to be just fine.

Related Headlines

Comments are no longer available on this story