What Happens in the Boston Red Sox Rotation?

Eduardo Rodriguez landed on the 15-day DL right before the season with subluxation of his patellar tendon in his right knee and has already made two rehab starts. He is due to start one more after throwing 84 pitches in his last outing, which lasted six innings with justRed Sox Rotation three earned runs (all in the first inning) with three strikeouts. The 23-year-old retired 16 of the final 18 batters he faced and will have one last start May 8th before potentially returning to the Boston Red Sox rotation on May 13th.

The all but expected conclusion is that Rodriguez will take the spot of Henry Owens in the rotation due to the fact that Owens has struggled in two of his outing with his pitch count. In his first start, the youngster lasted just 3.1 innings with four walks and four strikeouts in a no-decision. After a five-inning no-decision against the New York Yankees, the 23-year-old went just three innings while walking six and allowing two runs against the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday. Owens has been lackluster since is major league debut in 2015 and the 88 MPH fastball seems to not be cutting it against the tougher lineups of the majors.

With Rodriguez slotted to take the one real question mark of the Boston Red Sox rotation, what will happen when Joe Kelly returns?

Is Joe Kelly Out of the Red Sox Rotation?

Kelly had an encouraging bullpen session on Tuesday and looks to have a rehab outing on Friday, May 6th, at Triple-A Pawtucket. John Farrell expects him to make two rehab starts, but that does not mean he will be ready to go right after those two outings. If he is healthy and his shoulder responds well after both appearances, then Kelly could be back in the thick of things in the Red Sox rotation.

However, the only other spot the Red Sox can even take a look at is the up-and-down veteran Clay Buchholz. Buchholz had pitched poorly up until the seven inning performance with just a two-run homer in the first inning off the bat of Jose Abreu blemishing the outing. The 31-year-old’s ERA dropped from 6.51 to 5.71 with the outing and this start could be the start of one of one of those ones Buchholz gets on before he gets hurt. Last season, he went through a 12-start stretch with a an ERA just above 2.00 before getting hurt.

My suggestion is to keep Buchholz in the rotation to build his value and trade him before that inevitable injury that derails his trade value and his time with the Red Sox. This leaves Kelly the odd man out of the rotation, but the Red Sox could use him as an arm out of the bullpen. The bullpen depth has already increased with the return of Carson Smith and Kelly is another electric arm to use as a middle reliever if the Red Sox starters fail to make it through six innings on any given night.

Henry Owens, Brian Johnson Soon to Join Rotation

Prior to a third straight pitching debacle against the Chicago White Sox, manager John Farrell just casually mentioned to the media that both Brian Johnson and Henry Owens should get the call in the next week. These starters are ranked No. 4 and No. 5 respectively overall in the Boston Red Sox farm system

“We’re going to stay on turn through the weekend,” Farrell said according to NESN’s Ricky Brian Johnsondoyle. “Monday being the off-day, we’ve got the ability to adjust going forward. But as we’re taking a look at (recently recalled outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr.), our goal and our intent is to see Brian Johnson and probably Henry Owens at some point. So, all that is on the horizon.”

With pitchers Joe Kelly (2-6, 5.94 ERA), Justin Masterson (4-2, 5.62 ERA) and Rick Porcello (5-11, 5.81 ERA) struggling for most of the season and knuckleballer Steve Wright being a 30-year-old journeyman who is more of a spot starter than a long-term option in the rotation, it makes sense to bring up the young pitchers to see if they should be kept or dealt this off season.

Eduardo Rodriguez has proven that he has some work to do, but has pitched admirably while up with the Boston Red Sox this season to the tune of a 4.26 ERA in 11 starts to go along with a 6-3 record and a 52:20 K:BB ratio. The 22-year-old should be in the starting rotation to start the 2016 season

The Red Sox already got a look at Johnson last week as he went 4.1 innings while allowing four earned runs. He may have walked four batters in the outing and thrown more curve balls than fastballs, but the prospect proved he could pitch even with less than stellar stuff on the mound. The fastball topped out at 90 and he can’t blow away anyone, but he showed strong composure for a 24-year-old.

As for Owens, the 23-year-old had a tough go of it to start the 2015 season in Pawtucket, but is 1-4 with a 2.86 ERA over his last 10 starts. Over that span, he has walked just 18 and struck out 54 in 63 innings of work, including a couple nine strikeout contests on July 10th and July 18th in which he allowed three earned runs over 13 innings of work.

The Red Sox need to see which of these lefties will be a mainstay going forward and what better time than now when the team is all but mathematically eliminated from postseason contention.

Boston Red Sox Should Not Trade Clay Buchholz

The Boston Red Sox have cut their deficit down from 10 games back in mid-June to six in a matter of two weeks and now sit six games under .500 with five games to go before the All-Star break. And now Clay Buchholz has been pitching like a front-of-the-rotation starter for the last two months, including a 5-0 mark in his last seven starts with a 1.99 ERA and a staggering 42:7 K:BB ratio. In his last 11 games started, he is 7-4 with a 2.17 ERA.

On the year, the veteran is 7-6 with a starter-low ERA of 3.27 and is currently on one of his “good” runs.

Clay Buchholz

Yes, the most consistent thing about Buchholz is his ability to be inconsistent on the mound, but the Red Sox have been known of late to keep pitchers they have control of for multiple years.

For instance, the Red Sox have Wade Miley (under contract until 2017), Rick Porcello (signed an extension through 2019) and Joe Kelly (arbitration eligible until 2018) who all are under team control for the next several seasons. The team also has several young pitchers who are completely under team control, so the team likes the team-friendly deals (well, except Porcello’s but that’s the exception not the rule).

So, with the downhill seemingly right around the corner for Buchholz, why shouldn’t the team look to deal him? Well, the Red Sox are in dyer need of starting pitchers who can eat innings and pitch well (*cough, cough* Porcello can’t do this especially the last two months).

If the team were to trade the 30-year-old, then a starter would need to come back in the deal. This means some middle-tier pitcher or worse for a starter that is still under team control until the 2017 season thanks to a couple team options worth $13 and $13.5 million respectively.

The only way the Red Sox were to trade Buchholz is if the team loses the momentum they have gained over the last 17 games. The AL East is a division that no one has really taken control of this season and the next 25 days will determine how the team will handle the trade deadline come July 31st.

It may be frustrating at times to watch the talent of Buchholz be put to waste with inconsistent starts and injury after injury. However, the pitcher has shown of late that he his finally maturing on the mound with less “illegal” actions such as lathering the ball with the goop from his hair.

The team is starting to look like the team that could run away with the AL East and Buchholz is a part of that future if the team wants to make a run to be a playoff team.

Boston Red Sox Should Be Happy the Month of May Is Over

The Boston Red Sox offense and pitching staff should be glad the second month of the regular season is over. With a dreadful 1-6 road trip to cap off the month— thanks in big part to an error by third baseman Pablo Sandoval to start the inning— they blew a 4-3 lead in the ninth on Sunday against the Texas Rangers.

The team finished with a 10-19 record in their 29 games. The pitching staff finished withBoston Red Sox a cumulative ERA of 4.12, which ranked tied for 21st in all of MLB with the Miami Marlins. The starters rank dead last in the majors with a 5.05 ERA and a 15-23 record through 51 games. The relievers are pretty respectable with a 3.50 ERA, which is 15th in MLB and 7th in the American League. The bullpen, however, blew three of nine save opportunities in the month of May and really had trouble in those close games in the past 30 days.

The offense really let the team down in May with only 2.8 runs per game during the 29-game stretch. The 82 run record puts them last in all of baseball, including fewer runs than the Philadelphia Phillies (94), New York Mets (95) and even the Miami Marlins (97). The team hit .237 for the month, which is the 7th worst average in the majors for the month and 3rd worst in the AL.

The hitting with runners in scoring position has been no better as the team is 2nd worst in the American League while hitting with a .221 clip in those situations. The team is 4th worst overall with runners on second and/or third. The month of May saw games where the Red Sox could not sniff a hit with RISP and it has nearly cost them the season. Luckily, the team is in the AL East and, with 111 games to go, only trails the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays by four games.

The strange thing about all these offensive struggles has been the lack of strikeouts the opponent’s have been piling up. In 51 games, the Red Sox are the second hardest team to strikeout with 327 total strikeouts, which averages out to about 6.4 each contest; the only team lower is the Kansas City Royals with 278.

What this stat tells me is that the Red Sox are running into a lot of outs by swinging early in the count, especially with a league-low .267 batting average on balls in play (BABIP). In comparison with the number above, the Royals’ BABIP ranks fourth with a .315.

If the Red Sox hope to even think about contending this season, then the team needs to start scoring runs when the pitchers keep them in games by hitting with runners in scoring position and making sure to get productive outs. It all starts with the months changing and a little home cooking in June as the team plays 15 of its 28 games at Fenway Park this month.

Juan Nieves Fired, Edward Mujica DFA’d

Juan Nieves

The Boston Red Sox looked a little bit different Friday night against the Toronto Blue Jays after a 3-6 homestand thanks to two moves the Red Sox announced Thursday.

The first move came of a little bit of a surprise as the team designated right-handed reliever Edward Mujica for assignment. The veteran had struggled with a blown save to go along with a 1-1 record and a 4.61 ERA so far this season. In 75 games with the Red Sox, Mujica owns a 4.06 ERA and just eight saves (all in the 2014 season.Juan Nieves

The 30-year-old was signed prior to the 2014 season for two years and $9.5 million, but he never lived up to his numbers with the St. Louis Cardinals the year before. He never really flourished in Boston and always seemed to give up those inopportune runs which made winnings games almost unattainable.

The team planned to make the move while in Toronto on Friday and Matt Barnes is likely going to be the bullpen arm the Red Sox need going forward. Barnes has appeared in 11 games for the Red Sox over the last two seasons and has allowed a total of four runs while striking out nine and walking two. This season he has struck out one and allowed two hits in two innings of work back on April 25.

In another pitching-related move, the team elected to let go of pitching coach Juan Nieves. The Red Sox rank second-to-last in the entire majors with a 4.86 ERA and are dead last in team ERA in the AL. The only team worse is the Colorado Rockies at 5.38.

With already 28 games in the books and a 13-15 record after a 9-5 start, Nieves showed that he did not have a handle on the pitching staff like he did when he was hired in 2013. The passive approach to pitching away to nearly every hitter was not the right approach as at least every pitcher in the starting staff has allowed four or more runs in a start at least once.

The list for pitching coach replacements is short, according to media reports after a John Farrell conference call on Thursday. The team is in the process of sorting everything out so, expect a new pitching coach sometime on the current 10-game road trip.

Situational Hitting Not Part of Red Sox Arsenal So Far This Season

red sox hitting

The Boston Red Sox have scored the seventh most runs in all of baseball through 25 games after Sunday’s night contest against the New York Yankees with 122 runners touching home plate. This also ranks sixth in the American League behind the Toronto Blue Jays, Kansas City Royals, Oakland Athletics, Houston Astros and now the New York Yankees.

However, the Red Sox have scored some of these runs due to other team’s mistakes (unearned runs) and thanks to 29 long balls on the season. Red Sox hittingThe team has not hit well with runners on base, especially with runners in scoring position, and that could be a concern if the trend continues.

As a whole the Red Sox are hitting .228 with runners in scoring position. That number goes up a tick to .239 with two outs, but that still is rather pathetic for a team that is in the top 10 in runs scored in all of baseball.

The team does have some players hitting well in these positions as Daniel Nava (.333), Mookie Betts (.304), Xander Bogaerts (.300) and Brock Holt (.300) are the only batters with 10 or more at-bats with runners in scoring position with an average above .263.

Players not hitting well in these situations include Pablo Sandoval (.263 in 19 chances), Hanley Ramirez (.227 in 22 chances), David Ortiz (.211 in 19 chances), Mike Napoli (.158 in 19 chances) and Dustin Pedroia (.124 in 24 chances). Now, yes, it is a small sample size for all of these batters and Napoli is hitting less than .170 on the season, but this could be a real concern for this team in its ability to tack on those extra runs in order to win games throughout the season.

The Red Sox have had a grand total of 109 at-bats with runners in scoring position and two outs and at least 14 apiece for Betts and Pedroia should mean a lot of runs. But both hitters have hit less than .150 with a combined four hits and just one extra-base hit for the centerfielder.

With all these numbers showing the Red Sox still haven’t found those timely hits, the team still has a 12-13 record and show that they can contend in the AL East as long as their pitching doesn’t fall off the table once every third or fourth start. Sure home runs help score runs, but timely hitting is what really makes an offense lethal.