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.

Red Sox Lose Seventh Straight Game

The Red Sox continued their losing ways last night, dropping their seventh consecutive game with a 4-2 loss to the Houston Astros. It marked their eighth loss in the last ten games, and further cemented their position in the cellar of the American League.

Since the All-Star break, the Sox have been outscored 34-9, and they have a batting Red Sox Astros July 2015average of an anemic .192. They have one home run in this period, while giving up thirteen. The Sox were shut out in the first two games of this trip, and haven’t even scored in consecutive innings yet. Their four total runs in the series against the Angels were their fewest in a series of four or more games since 1965.  Yes, that’s 50 years.

Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia, who are supposed to be table-setters, can’t even get a seat at the table.  They are a combined 2 for 42.  Betts is 1 for 20, and didn’t even play last night, while Pedroia finally snapped an 0 for 20 drought in the most recent loss.

Also in the throes of repair at the plate is the $19,750,000 per year outfielder Hanley Ramirez. He is 2 for 21 in the last six, with a team-high seven strikeouts.

How about the starting pitching staff?  They haven’t reminded anybody of Cy Young. Since the break, they are 0-5 with an ERA of 7.31. One upside from the pitchers is that Wade Miley had a solid outing last time out, not giving up a hit through six innings. He’ll try to snap this season-high team losing streak tonight.

Miley actually had a perfect game going through 5 1/3 innings against the Angels and ended up allowing just two hits and one walk in seven innings…but still took a no decision.

Where things go from here is anybody’s guess.  We haven’t mentioned Clay Buchholz getting a platelet-rich-plasma injection into his right elbow. Who knows when he’ll be back, but don’t look for him for at least a few weeks, and if by late August the Sox are 20 games out, or 25, is it even worth it to bring him back?

Wade Miley Gets Yanked After Four, Has Acidic Reaction To It

This insufferable summer has taken another bizarre twist.  Thursday night in Baltimore, Red Sox starting pitcher Wade Miley was informed by John Farrell in the dugout following the fourth inning that he was done for the night.  Miley immediately threw a fit, showing up his manager and then storming out of the dugout, with Farrell in tow. Miley later resurfaced and watched the rest of the game with his teammates.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxVzR4ysGP0

What right did Miley have to be upset?  He threw four innings, gave up nine hits (three of them home runs) and five earned runs.  His ERA is now 5.07, which is good for 89th overall in the American League. In his last three starts he is 1-2 and has given up 12 earned runs. Not exactly the second coming of Cy Young here.  Additionally, he’s making $3,666,666 this year, and will make $6,167,000 next year and then in 2017 he’ll pocket $8,917,000.

So Miley’s mad that his manager yanked him? C’mon! The Sox were only down by two at that point, and not completely out of the game, even for the. Farrell was trying to avoid being swept. Miley Cyrus could have probably pitched better last night than Wade Miley, and she wouldn’t have thrown a temper tantrum in the dugout, she would have waited until later to get in trouble with the law.

Farrell’s reaction after the game was that Miley’s a competitor and it was his day to pitch. Lame, yes, but did you expect Farrell to state that Miley stunk and probably should have been yanked earlier?  Miley also pulled a similar stunt in Arizona last year when he was pulled in the third inning of a game and threw a hissy fit with manager Kirk Gibson.  Too bad Gibson didn’t just lay him out.

The only highlight that came out of last night was when Dennis Eckersley, during the post-game show, wondered aloud if Wade Miley was on acid when discussing his outburst.

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.

Eduardo Rodriguez Shines in Debut

Eduardo Rodriguez made his major league debut, and it was exactly what the Red Sox needed from their young gun. Rodriguez pitched 7.2 strong innings, allowing 0 runs on just 3 hits and 7 strikeouts. So, how exactly was he able to do it?

According to NESN, he used 29 pitches the first time through the Texas Rangers lineup,Eduardo Rodriguez and of those 29 pitches, 24 were fastballs. And he had success with his fastball because he was able to locate his pitches extremely well. The 2nd time through the lineup, he mixed in his secondary pitches to great effect, throwing only 20 fastballs in 40 pitches through the 2nd time around, per NESN. The 3rd time around, he went back to the fastball and again, he located the ball extremely well. That was critical because once you start getting into the later innings, you get tired and your velocity isn’t as sharp, so location becomes even more important.

And, of course, NESN is quick to point out that some of the credit has to go to Blake Swihart, who looked like a veteran in calling the game last night, which I would agree with. But it ultimately came down to Rodriguez executing his pitches, which he did a fantastic job with all night long against a tough Texas Rangers lineup.

I sincerely hope the Red Sox keep this guy up and give him more of a chance to show his stuff. He doesn’t solve all the Red Sox problems, but one of the main concerns is the starting pitching right now, and he looks like he could fill in quite nicely as a big league starter. This is only one start, but if he keeps this up, he could well turn into a top-of-the-rotation type pitcher. He definitely has the stuff to accomplish that, should he keep this up. Of course, the reverse could happen and  he could struggle mightily in his next few starts, but I hope not. This kid has the stuff to be great.

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.