Matt Andriese hasn't taken a regular turn as a starter since 2017 with the Rays, when 17 of his 18 appearances came in Tampa's rotation.
Since then, he has bounced from team to team and bullpen to bullpen, pitching primarily in relief for the Rays, Diamondbacks, and Angels.
Andriese sees an opportunity in Boston, however. The 31-year-old right-hander, who signed with the Red Sox on Wednesday, believes his arsenal plays best as a starter, and he thinks he'll get a chance to prove it.
"I signed here with the Red Sox for the opportunity to do both, so I have a lot of flexibility in my career," Andriese said via Zoom. "I've started lots of games, I've come in the bullpen more recently, but the Red Sox are obviously trying to get more starters, too. I think my flexibility and my role, I'm going to compete for a starting spot, but I know that being in the bullpen is an option to help the team as well."
The way Andriese sees it, he has the stuff to start. He primarily relies on a 92-mph fastball, a high-spin curve, and his best pitch, a diving changeup. He also on occasion throws a slider and sinker.
"I've kind of fine-tuned different pitches," he said. "I think using all of my pitches in a starting role probably benefits me more. The last two or three years when I was strictly a reliever, I kind of relied heavily on fastball, changeup, and my best pitch is my changeup, but I think getting back to using all four of my pitches -- my curveball, slider, cutter, two-seam, just mixing and matching better, I'll be able to go deeper into games, throw more innings, and that'll get me a good opportunity to start and be able to eat up some innings."
Andriese broke camp with the Angels believing he'd be their fifth starter, but bullpen issues required him to pitch in relief. After a slow start -- he allowed runs in five of his first six appearances -- he settled down in September, posting a 1.46 ERA in eight appearances. He finished the season 2-4 with a 4.50 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 32 innings.
"I was out there more consistent and just taking the ball, trying to be the best I can be day in and day out, being prepared," he said. "I didn't change any pitch selection or anything like that. I was more aggressive and more confident in my stuff, and it led to a little bit better success and I finished the season off strong."
He hopes to carry over that performance into the 2021 season, perhaps as a member of a Red Sox rotation that badly needs reinforcements. He's friends with Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, a former teammate in Tampa, and he also knows chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom from their days with the Rays.
"I'm pretty familiar with their guys," Andriese said. "Eovaldi, Chris Sale when he's healthy, Eddie (Rodriguez). I think we have a lot of potential. I'm going to say 'we' because I'm now included in that mix. I'm excited to get going with the guys and make that pitching staff better, stay healthy and go from there."