Red Sox trade targets to look out for

A seemingly taxed bullpen and what’s been a thin starting rotation for a while now are problems forcing the Red Sox into considering outside options for their pitching staff. With Alex Cora confirming that Nathan Eovaldi will assume the closer role upon returning from the Injured List, a spot will remain open in the rotation. Red Sox trade targets have generally been bullpen arms the last few years, but that tune might be changing in 2019.

With a largely competitive field of teams still vying for wild card contention, the market is aRed Sox trade targets bit thinner than it has been in recent seasons. That being said, there are indeed arms that are reportedly being shopped, as sellers like the Mets, Blue Jays, and others will be looking to unload and rebuild.

If the plan for the Sox is to add a man in the rotation, there are some options on the market that might come a bit cheaper than relievers with multiple years before free agency. Let’s take a look at who some of these Red Sox trade targets might be.

RHP Zack Wheeler, New York Mets

Ken Rosenthal recently reported that the Red Sox were spotted scouting a recent start of Wheeler’s (and Matthew Boyd’s). With the Mets coming undone in another lost season, a move would make sense. While the ERA is an unimpressive 4.69, Wheeler has been able to eat up innings in New York. He has managed to work 6.0+ IP in 15 of his 19 starts, including 7.0+ IP in 9 of those starts. He has worked fewer than five innings just a pair of times, going 4.2 in each. For a Red Sox team starved for an innings eater, a low-cost soon-to-be free agent represents an excellent fit.

LHP Matthew Boyd, Detroit Tigers

Boyd has put together a career year, posting a very solid 3.87 ERA through 18 starts. He’s been the best pitcher on a poor Tigers team, but has done well in a division that features a number of solid teams like the juggernaut Twins, competitive Indians, and rising White Sox. There are two concerns, however: for one thing, he is still a few years away from free agency. With how much clubs value team control these days, Boyd will come at a high price. Not just that, but after being one of the AL’s best through mid-June, Boyd has regressed a bit. The southpaw has allowed 4 or 5 ER in each of his last 4 starts, after allowing more than 4 ER just twice through his first 14. Boyd would make another quality addition, but the fit might not be as strong.

RHP Marcus Stroman, Toronto Blue Jays

Red Sox fans might not jump all over this idea. But Stroman is having an excellent season, has always proven a tough out, and brings a swagger to the mound, which makes him a Red Sox trade target. A swagger that might energize the group. Stroman is one of the league’s best at producing high ground ball rates. In two starts against Boston this season, Stroman has allowed just 1 ER over 11 IP. His 3.18 ERA would automatically be the lowest among fellow Sox starting pitchers. What makes this deal difficult is that Toronto won’t trade a key player to a divisional rival for nothing. Like with Boyd, the Red Sox might be priced out of their comfort zone.

The Red Sox are Finally Halfway Through the Season

The All Star game and Home Run Derby are finally done. Now the Red Sox are halfway through the season with one goal in mind. That goal – Make it to the postseason. It sounds like a long shot, but hopefully with some motivation, it can be done.

Over the past few days, the Red Sox have been involved in trade talks, especially when ithalfway through comes to pitching. One thing to note is that they are in the process of moving postseason hero, Nathan Eovaldi to the bullpen. At 49-41, the Red Sox are two games out of the Wild Card. The question now is, can they do what it takes to see October?

A lot of Questions Halfway Through the Season

Right now, the Red Sox are in third place in the American League East. The two teams in front of them, the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays, have been on a ht streak for some time now. As we saw in London, the Yankees aren’t slowing down anytime soon. As for the Rays, they are 4-3 in July, and finished the half with the fourth best record in team history.

One thing that these two teams have that the Red Sox are lacking is solid pitching. For Tampa Bay, two of their pitchers are in the top ten in ERA, with Charlie Morton in the number one spot. The Yankees, who have one of the better bullpens in the Majors, have a successful closer in Aroldis Chapman. Right now, he is leading the league with twenty four saves.

The big question for the Red Sox is the bullpen. One bright spot in the bullpen for Boston is Brandon Workman. Right now, he is 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA. In 2019, Workman has pitched in 43 games, logging 40.1 innings and striking out fifty five batters. This is all well and good, however, the rest of the bullpen needs a wake up call.

At the halfway point, the bullpen has blown eighteen saves, and are behind the New York Mets who have blown twenty one. Last season, the Red Sox only had twenty blown saves. At this rate, they’re looking at not only passing last season’s blown saves, but possibly doubling the eighteen they have now.

Another question mark is the rotation. With both Chris Sale and Rick Porcello having off years, it’s tough not to think about adding another arm to the mix. Right now, one of the rumors is that the Red Sox might be trading for another starter. This will help big time, especially later in the season. We saw how that worked out last season with the trade for Nathan Eovaldi.

Is The Magic Gone?

No, really, is it? Think about it. Last season, the Red Sox were 68-30 at the halfway point. This season, they’re 49-41. In the offseason, the only major impacts were that Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel left. Other than that, the team is practically the same. Granted, no team has won back to back championships since the Yankees did it in 1999 and 2000. Actually, they won three times in a row, but that’s another story.

Mookie Betts and the rest of the line up are slowly waking up, and getting the ball in play. The call up of Michael Chavis and the emergence of Rafael Devers in his second full season has definitely helped the Red Sox. As for the pitching part, time can only tell what will happen next. In a few short weeks, the trade deadline will be here. Will the Red Sox be buyers, or sellers? Will Dave Dombrowski do what needs to be done to get this team back to the postseason? Red Sox Nation only hopes that he will.

Red Sox Problems Start And End With Bullpen Depth

We are 54 games into the 2019 season and the Red Sox problems still seem to cling to the team like mosquitoes on sweat. The reigning champs own a 29-25 record. They are 6.5 games behind the Yankees and Tampa Bay sits in between them and New York in the division.

The team’s starting rotation is strong. Chris Sale and David Price combine for one of thered sox problems best one-two punches in the American League (AL). Rick Porcello is as consistent and reliable as starters get, as he has strung together 10 seasons of at least 27 starts. The Red Sox are still awaiting the return of Nathan Eovaldi from the Injured List. The 29-year-old averaged 8.2 strikeouts per 9 innings (SO/9) last season between Tampa Bay and Boston, which was a personal career-best. Eduardo Rodriguez rounds out the rotation. The Venezuelan southpaw has been a two-faced hurler in 2019. Of his 11 starts, he has 5 quality starts and four starts of allowing at least 5 earned runs.

Only Sale, Porcello, and Rodriguez have pitched all of their scheduled starts this year. Price has missed three and Eovaldi pitched just four starts before undergoing surgery on his right elbow (loose bodies; expected to embark on a rehab assignment within the next week or two). Hector Velazquez has filled in by starting seven games. His longest outing in 2019 is five innings. Two other starts have been made by Red Sox pitchers. Ryan Weber turned in a quality start last week and Josh Smith allowed four earned runs in 3.1 innings of work on May 6.

We have arrived at the core of the Red Sox problems: bullpen depth. Boston has five valuable relief pitchers: Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Marcus Walden, Heath Hembree, and Brandon Workman. The five of them have compiled averages of a 2.34 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and 11.4 SO/9.

The Houston Astros’ bullpen ranks second in the AL in fewest runs allowed per game with 3.55. Their five best arms include Roberto Osuna, Josh James, Ryan Pressly, Will Harris, and Hector Rondon. Compared to the Red Sox, these relievers averages are 2.13 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 9.8 SO/9.

These numbers may look similar and they are. The discrepancies may seem minimal, they are. However, two key AL bullpen statistics, that jump off the page, is where the Red Sox bullpen diverts from appearing well-built to becoming a sour situation.

The first stat is runs allowed per game. The top-five AL teams, in this department, are Tampa Bay (3.18), Houston (3.55), Minnesota (3.94), Cleveland (4.08), and New York (4.09). Oakland ranks sixth at 4.25 and Boston seventh, allowing 4.61 runs.

Tampa Bay’s elite bullpen, along with their trio of Blake Snell, Charlie Morton, and Tyler Glasnow, has carried them to a .627 win percentage this year. In terms of hitting, the Rays are scoring 4.59 runs per game, which ranks ninth in the AL. In comparison, their 4.59 runs smudges them in between the Angels and Royals. Both of these teams own a win percentage below .454. The Red Sox have scored 5.35 runs/game, which ranks fourth in the AL.

The second key bullpen statistic is inherited score percentage (IS%). This calculation shows the percentage of runners (on base) who subsequently scored when a pitcher entered a game. The league average is quantified at 32%. Four of the five teams that rank above the 32 percent threshold have losing records. The one outlier is the Red Sox, who stand four games above .500 and have allowed 35% of their inherited runners to score.

Red Sox Problems: The Big Question

Despite the numbers, some may still ask, if the club has five valuable bullpen arms, then why is the bullpen a problem? Shouldn’t five be enough? Well, five is a good number. But in this market, it is imperative for a sports team to have all of their flaws covered. This boils down to a scary question: would you trust this bunch in the playoffs with games on the line?

The risk this poses has been proven regrettable in the past. The odds of bullpens being taxed in October is high, due the physical/mental strain of starting pitchers in big games. This means that pitchers, who I have failed to mention until now, will make appearances, and these pitchers have question marks. Do guys by the likes of Brian Johnson, Travis Lakins, Darwinzon Hernandez, Colten Brewer, Tyler Thornburg, Erasmo Ramirez, and Bobby Poyner frighten you? These are the names that round out the remaining compiled innings this year for the Red Sox.

It is likely that President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski acquires an extra arm at the July 31 trade deadline. However, how sure are we of Dombrowski bringing in a valuable arm as opposed to another reliever that gets added to the list of guys that are hard to trust? Dombrowski has had the window to bring back former closer Craig Kimbrel for seven months now. Kimbrel, to me, slots in as a valuable arm.

Through 54 games last season, the Red Sox were 37-17, good for first in the AL East. Now, a year later, they find themselves in a much different place. The continued production of their bats will count. The health of the starting pitching will be key. But, the performances of the rest of the club’s pitching will be the end game to whether the Red Sox can make a push for a second-straight title.

Champs Playing Themselves Into Unfamiliar Territory

Off to their worst 25-game start since 1996, seeing the champs playing themselves into unfamiliar territory is a little more than concerning. As we know, the Red Sox have won 4 World Series championships in the last 15 years. From 1967-’82, the Sox put together 16 consecutive winning seasons, and 14 more from 1998-2011, Since the inauguration of the AL East in 1969, Boston has won the division in three consecutive seasons just once. That accomplishment came to fruition last year in 2018, as the team won AL East titles from 2016-’18. Plain and simple, the Red Sox don’t like losing.

Since 1967, which is regarded as the “Impossible Dream Team” season of the franchise,champs playing Boston’s longest stretch of consecutive losing seasons is just 3, from 1992-’94. In ’92, they went 73-89. A year later, 80-82, and 54-61 in ’94 (the lockout shortened the 1994 season to 115 games). In 2012, after the team changed managers from Terry Francona to Bobby Valentine, the team finished in last place with a 69-93 record. Through Boston’s first 25 games that season, they had 11 wins, which is one more than this year’s 10.

In 2014, a year removed from winning their 8th World Series, the Sox finished last again with a 71-91 record. The following season resulted in consecutive last place finishes in the AL East (78-84). It was the first time the Sox finished in last place in consecutive seasons in the history of the AL East.

So, can they still turn it around?

I believe they can salvage a 90-win season, but it’ll be tough. In 2010 and ’11, they started 11-14 each year. They missed the playoffs, but not by much. They reached 89 wins in ’10 and 90 wins in ’11. The Sox had a chance to make the postseason on the last day of the season in 2011, but a loss to the then last place Orioles had them ousted.

The Sox swept the Rays on the road last weekend and came home to play the Tigers on Monday, which began a 10-game home stand. Monday’s game was washed out by rain. Boston responded, discouragingly, with back-to-back losses in Tuesday’s double header. They won last night in impressive fashion, 11-4. The series finale is tonight. I believe if they win tonight, and split the series, it would be a huge win.

Champs Playing A Tough Schedule In May

They begin a tough 3-game set with Tampa Bay on Friday, where they will have to face Charlie Morton and Tyler Glasnow on the mound, again. April has clearly been a lost month for the Sox. They begin May with one game at home against the A’s. They will have to face Seattle, Colorado, Houston twice, the Indians, and the Yankees all in May. Things do not get any easier.

Huge Win For The Red Sox: Opportunity To Split Series Today

What a huge win for the Red Sox last night! Although the team remains in last place in the AL East, the victory snapped their four game losing streak. With the 6-3 victory over Oakland, Boston improved to 2-5 on the season.

The Sox won the game in the 9th inning when Mookie Betts doubled off the third baseHuge win bag. Two runners scored. Andrew Benintendi, next up, scored Betts with a stand up triple. Boston entered the bottom half of the inning with a 3-run lead and handed the ball to Ryan Brasier, who closed the door and gave the Sox their much needed second win of the season.

The game started slowly, as the first 3.5 innings were quite uneventful – one run was scored by the A’s in the 2nd on an infield RBI single by catcher Nick Hundley.

The A’s scored again in the fourth when Ramon Laureano sent a Nathan Eovaldi curveball into orbit. The home run traveled 438 feet, well beyond the center field fence. Other than the Laureano home run and lack of command, 4 walks allowed, Eovaldi pitched decently. He was pulled after five innings. He accumulated 96 pitches, but just 51 strikes.

Swihart, on his 27th birthday, goes 3-for-4 in huge win for the Red Sox

Boston had tallied just one hit before Blake Swihart put them on the board with a solo shot in the fifth. Oakland’s lead was cut to two.

Sox tie it up

Clutch hitting and superb pitching out of the bullpen is what fueled last night’s huge win for the Red Sox. In the 6th inning, Betts led off with a walk. Two batters later, Rafael Devers grounded the ball to A’s second baseman Jurickson Profar for a potential double play. But, Profar overthrew shortstop Marcus Semien. The ball had to be chased down by third baseman Matt Chapman and Betts was able to then advance to third without a throw. Both Betts and Devers were safe.

J.D. Martinez walked on five pitches to load the bases and Mitch Moreland came to the plate. A’s manager Bob Melvin replaced starter Marco Estrada with left-hander Ryan Buchter. Moreland jumped on the first pitch and doubled down the right field line. Two runs scored and the game was tied.

Red Sox relievers Colten Brewer and Matt Barnes pitched the following three innings (6, 7, and 8). They recorded a combined four strikeouts, all of which A’s hitters went down swinging.

After the game, manager Alex Cora’s energy was uplifting. While speaking to reporters, he said, “When we pitch, we have a chance to win the game … The energy was better today, the whole day … We need to start playing clean baseball, better baseball.”

Red Sox activate Pearce ahead of today’s game

Steve Pearce will have a chance to make his 2019 debut now that he was activated off the Injured List today. Sam Travis was sent down to Triple-A Pawtucket.

The series finale is today. After trailing in the each of the first three games, Boston has somehow found a way to win two of the four games. Eduardo Rodriguez takes the mound in an important second start for the southpaw. He is opposed by fellow left-hander Brett Anderson. First pitch is at 3:37 PM/ET this afternoon. Enjoy the day game Sox fans!

Red Sox Struggles Continue: Shutout Two Nights In A Row

FRANKLIN, Mass. – When Matt Chapman clobbered an 89 MPH fastball off Chris Sale with one out in the top of the first inning last night, Red Sox Nation cringed. The ball did not have much loft to it. Right off the bat, I thought the ball had a chance at staying in the yard. But as it kept carrying, and as I saw the left-center field fence only 367 feet away, my doubts sunk in, and a split-second later, a Red Sox starter had given up its 12th home run. As Chapman rounded the bases, one thought crept into my head: the Red Sox struggles continue.

However, to everyone’s surprise, the Sox pitched phenomenally the rest of the way. SaleRed Sox Struggles Continue pitched 6 innings, walked two, and allowed only two more hits, one of which was an infield single and the other a single to center. He threw 87 total pitches. The Sox only had to tax two relievers as well, Brandon Workman and Ryan Brasier. Workman pitched the 7th and Brasier pitched the 8th; both of them did not allow a run.

Where Boston struggled in this one was at the plate. More specifically, failing to capitalize when runners were in scoring position. Hitters went 0-7 with runners in scoring position (RISP). Mookie Betts reached second base after doubling off Mike Fiers in the 3rd with two outs. Andrew Benintendi then grounded to second to end the inning.

To lead off the 4th, Rafael Devers singled to right-center field. J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts followed with two consecutive flyouts. Devers could not tag up to advance from first base. Mitch Moreland, next up, singled to right field. Devers rounded second and reached third base. Brock Holt then grounded out to end the frame.

In the top of the 6th, Benintendi recorded Boston’s fifth hit of the evening with an infield single. Subsequently, he stole second. Two batters later, Martinez was able to move Benintendi to third. Following that, with two outs, Bogaerts struck out swinging.

An inning later, Christian Vazquez also reached third base, after a double and a stolen base. To end the inning, Jackie Bradley Jr. struck out swinging. My thinking: the Red Sox struggles continue.

Laureano Again?!

Bogaerts came to the plate in the 9th with one out. He launched a deep fly ball to center field. Oakland outfielder Ramon Laureano, who gunned down Bogaerts at home plate the night before, went up for the catch, but missed. The ball ricochetted off the wall and rolled back onto the outfield grass. Laureano picked up the ball and threw a one-hop dart to Chapman at third base. Chapman caught it cleanly, slapped his glove down on Bogaerts’ side, and the call was ‘out’!

From there, even with Moreland coming to the plate, the life had been sucked out of the Red Sox. Holt eventually struck out to end the game.

Alex Cora frustrated, but still satisfied

“Right now nothing’s going our way,” the Sox manager was quoted as saying on NESN.com. “Honestly, after tonight, I feel better. I feel better because it was a game. 1-0, we had a chance. We competed. … I know what the record is, but honestly I can go home and get some sleep.”

The Sox have now lost four games in a row. Almost a full week into the 2019 season, they find themselves solidified into last place in the AL East.

The Red Sox struggles continue into tonight’s third game out of four against the A’s. First pitch is at 10:07 PM/ET.