Trying to predict who will lead the Red Sox pitching staff in certain statistical categories is kinda like trying to predict which Miss America contestant will run the fastest 40-yard dash. Yes, someone will win. Considering the competition though, is it really much of an accomplishment?

I shouldn’t be so harsh though. In truth, there are some talented pitchers on this staff. The problem is that most of the talent resides in the bullpen, and few of those talented pitchers are actually in the team’s long-term plans. The  starting rotation, which has not even been fully assembled yet, features one potential star, one intriguing arm with promise, and a bunch of blah. All in all, the 2024 Red Sox season looks destined to play out the same exact way that the 2023 season played out from the pitching side of things.

Yet this bleak outlook won’t deter me from making my Red Sox pitching stat leader predictions. I have a job to do, after all. And who knows … maybe Miss Ohio will run like Michelle Jenneke.

If you missed my offensive stat leader predictions last week, you can check them out here.


Wins – Kutter Crawford (15)

He took a big step forward in 2023, with six wins and a 4.04 ERA in 23 starts. I expect the 28-year-old to continue his evolution this year, making 30 starts and winning about half of them. He’s looked great this spring, surrendering only one earned run in eight innings and walking none with his fastball touching 97. He’s no rotation anchor, but he has 9.2 Ks/9 for his career and appears to be getting stronger. Brayan Bello just cannot pitch well in day games, so I see Crawford beating him out in wins unless that turns around. He’s one of the bright spots in a rotation that is mostly shrouded in doubt.


Earned Run Average (Starting Pitchers) – Brayan Bello (3.75)

This will be a photo finish between Bello and Crawford, but I think the $55 million man will pull it out in the end. I’m not buying into the hype of Bello being the next Pedro Martinez simply because he’s Dominican and Pedro has worked with him the last couple off-seasons, but I do buy into his two-seamer and changeup. I was incredibly impressed with the way he tailored his game around the Red Sox’ shortcomings last season (pitching to contact rather than aiming for strikeouts so he could get deeper into games and save the bullpen), a level of maturity that’s rare to see in a 24-year-old. I believe that maturity was a big factor in why Boston shelled out a six-year, $55 million contract extension to him. He’s projected to be a huge part of Boston’s future, and this year would be the ideal time for him to emerge into the ace role that the Red Sox have set aside for him in spite of the endless shrieking from a fanbase that desperately wants an established ace.


Strikeouts – Nick Pivetta (195)

For all the negatives we’ve seen throughout Nick Pivetta’s tenure, you can’t complain about his durability. Of course, the same thing was said about Lucas Giolito a few weeks ago. Assuming Murphy’s Law eases off the Red Sox’ backs a bit this season, adding the sweeper to his repertoire just may give Pivetta enough pitch variability to stay in the rotation all season long and surpass his career high in strikeouts (183). I don’t expect him to get much better at run prevention, but it’s not like the Red Sox have a slew of superior options beating down the door to join the starting rotation. He’s also in a contract year, so Nick will have his game face on all season.


Innings Pitched – Nick Pivetta (205)

He’s got the durability, he’s got a new pitch, and he’s got an expiring contract. It behooves Pivetta to display as much stamina as possible to impress potential suitors in anticipation of free agency, and it behooves the Red Sox to let him eat innings in this quasi-punt year to ease the burden on the pitchers who actually have a future in Boston. A guy that looked so promising as a “young starting pitcher” in 2021 is now a 31-year-old lame duck pining for a short-term contract elsewhere. Life in The Show.


Saves – Chris Martin (17)

Kenley Jansen is old, heavy, and not thrilled to be a 36-year-old on a team that’s building for the future. He’s already experiencing back issues in spring training, a problem that nagged at him last year as well. He has one more short-term contract left in him before hanging up his spikes, and I don’t see him jeopardizing that by playing through injuries for a team whose season pretty much ended the second Giolito’s UCL tore. Chris Martin is actually a year older than Jansen, but he doesn’t have the Hall-of-Fame credentials that Kenley does. As good as Martin is, he has to pitch well in 2024 to get a lucrative deal next winter. I see Jansen hitting the IL a couple times before packing it in sometime in July, with Martin assuming the closer role during each absence and eclipsing Jansen in saves by season’s end.


Holds – Josh Winckowski (21)

I don’t see Winckowski becoming an elite setup man this year. I do think that’s the role Craig Breslow and Andrew Bailey want him in long-term though, and Martin being forced into the closer job will be the perfect chance to give Josh a look as the eighth-inning guy. I think he’ll have some rough patches as the primary setup man late in the season, but he’ll continue to succeed in middle relief until then. Winck will earn about half of his holds as a middle reliever until the All Star break while Jansen is still a thing, and he’ll notch the other half setting up Chris Martin’s save opportunities. By Opening Day of 2025, the eighth inning job will be Winckowski’s to lose.


Appearances – Brennan Bernardino (65)

As the only lefthanded pitcher on the roster that has seen any kind of success in Boston, the Red Sox are gonna run this dude into the ground. He’ll get all the high leverage innings when Soto, Rizzo, Santander, Lowe, Henderson, Holliday, and every other tough lefty in the AL East comes up late in the game, and he’ll be the one that Red Sox fans will blame whenever he can’t put the flames out. It’s a thankless job, but Bernardino will be happy for the opportunity. It’s good to have a niche of your own. He’ll do okay, but he’s almost certain to wear down under all that strain by the end of the season.


Earned Run Average (Relief Pitchers) – Chris Martin (2.20)

Martin has been arguably the best non-closer relief pitcher in baseball since mid-2022, and he’s done it without throwing 100 miles per hour. After putting up a 1.45 ERA in 24.2 innings since being traded to the Dodgers at the ’22 deadline, he dominated to the tune of a 1.05 ERA in 51.1 innings for Boston last season. He may actually be the best player not named Rafael Devers on the Red Sox right now. He’ll have to more than double his 2023 ERA to hit my prediction for 2024, but I feel like he just can’t keep performing at the pace he’s been on for much longer. Although it would pale in comparison to his 2023 campaign, a 2.20 ERA this season would still lead all Red Sox pitchers by an incredibly wide margin.


Walks – Tanner Houck (65)

While I feel Houck’s 2023 season was a bit better on the whole than his 5.05 ERA would indicate, his 3.5 BB/9 rate was the worst among Red Sox starters and his 2.41 K/BB rate was worse than any starter aside from Corey Kluber, who retired in disgrace upon season’s end. Pivetta is the only other starter who may flirt with the team lead in the worst category for a pitcher to lead the team in, but it would take a sharp regression from Pivetta or a dramatic improvement from Houck for that to happen. Pivetta walked 50 hitters in 142.2 innings last year, while Houck managed to walk 41 in only 106 innings. If Houck wants to make himself a legitimate starting pitcher, he’s gotta learn to throw the ball over the damn plate.


Hit Batsmen – Tanner Houck (9)

Despite only pitching 102.2 innings last year, Chris Sale actually plunked more hitters (eight) than any other Red Sox pitcher. Bello, Houck, and Pivetta each hit six guys, but Houck pulled it off while pitching 36.2 less innings than Pivetta and 51 less innings than Bello. Give Tanner a full season of 150 or more innings, and he just may reach double digits. There’s also a dark horse contender in this category, and it doesn’t even matter that he won’t be on the Opening Day roster. Joe Jacques could easily take home the hit batsmen crown as long as he can reach the big league squad and hang there for a couple months. Jacques beaned just as many hitters as Bello, Houck, and Pivetta last year, and he accomplished all that in only 26.2 innings! That’s one hit batter ever 4.1 innings pitched!


Missed Games – Kenley Jansen (75)

Don’t get too comfortable with Kenley this season. His career is winding down, and the last thing he wants is to bid adieu to Major League Baseball from the mound of a sub-.500 team. He’s gonna save his arm, back, legs, and pride for his final contract, which will probably be with the Phillies, Yankees, or Rangers. At least we got to witness him earn his 400th save in a Red Sox uniform, even if he did kinda sorta derail the 2023 Red Sox season by prioritizing that individual milestone over team success. But it’s not like last year’s team was going anywhere anyway.


Awkward Stare Downs – Nick Pivetta (4)

Pivetta just can’t keep his big mouth shut. He curses a blue streak on the mound, barking every bleep-able word in the Urban Dictionary between pitches. The fact that he’s yelling at himself  is beside the point. Hitters don’t always realize Pivetta just happens to be crazier than a sh!thouse rat and routinely cusses himself out, especially when the hitters don’t have the best grasp of the English language. All they understand is that someone is looking in their direction and shouting the way Suzie Green berates Larry David. Once in a while, a hitter will take exception to the verbiage, back out of the box, and stare down Pivetta. No biggie though. Things always calm right down once Pivetta assures the man with the bat that it’s nothing personal … Nick was merely calling himself a scruffy-looking nerferder.


By Luke

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