The Red Sox are indeed lining up Josh Winckowski to start one of the games in Saturday’s scheduled doubleheader against the Orioles at Fenway Park, manager Alex Cora said in his weekly check-in with WEEI’s Merloni, Fauria & Mego on Wednesday afternoon.
“Winckowski, it seems like we’re lining up him to pitch in the doubleheader,” Cora said, as relayed by the Boston Herald’s Steve Hewitt.
Originally acquired from the Mets in the three-team Andrew Benintendi trade last February, Winckowski is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 12 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks sixth among pitchers in the organization.
After being added to the Sox’ 40-man roster last November, Winckowski has spent the entirety of the 2022 season to date with Triple-A Worcester. The 23-year-old right-hander has posted a 3.13 ERA and 2.80 FIP with 34 strikeouts to just six walks over seven starts (31 2/3 innings pitched) for the WooSox.
In his last time out against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders at Polar Park on Sunday, Winckowski had allowed just one run through his first six innings of work before getting rocked for five runs on three hits and one hit batsman in the top of the seventh.
Even with that performance on the backburner, Winckowski has still been one of the top starters at the Triple-A level this season. Among those in the International League who have accrued at least 30 innings to this point, the Florida native ranks 15th in strikeouts per nine innings (9.66), sixth in walks per nine innings (1.71), ninth in strikeout rate (27.9%), sixth in swinging strike rate (13.6%), seventh in walk rate (4.9%), fifth in batting average against (.183), second in WHIP (0.85), 13th in ERA, third in FIP, and second in xFIP (3.12), per FanGraphs.
Winckowski does not qualify as a league leader statistically, mainly because he was limited to just two innings in his May 11 start in the event that the Red Sox needed him to pitch during their series in Texas.
Since his last outing came on Sunday, Winckowski would be in line to pitch on regular rest in one of Saturday’s two games against Baltimore. Fellow righty Nathan Eovaldi is expected to start the other contest.
Listed at 6-foot-4 and 202 pounds, Winckowski possesses a pitch mix that is anchored by a high-90s four-seam fastball and complemented by a sinker, cutter, slider, and changeup. His stuff may be better suited for the bullpen in the future, but he will all but certainly get his first taste of the major-leagues as a starter.
Assuming Winckowski does make his big-league debut against the Orioles over the weekend, he would likely serve as the Red Sox’ 27th man and be optioned back down to Worcester following the conclusion of the twin bill.
(Picture of Josh Winckowski: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)