We are just five games into the 2018 season, but right now things look good for the Red Sox. We’ve seen one turn through the starting rotation so far and although it doesn’t mean much, there is reason for optimism. The pitching so far has shown us a glimpse of just how good it could be. In five games, the Red Sox have given up a total of 12 runs. Half of those runs came in the first game alone when Joe Kelly and Carson Smith melted down to ruin Chris Sale’s gem. Out of the 12 runs, only three have been given up by the starters. Making it even more impressive is that the two men at the back end are not the usual guys. Hector Velazquez and Brian Johnson did their jobs to come in and be not just effective, but very good, in spot-starts.
At the front end of the rotation, we saw Chris Sale, David Price and Rick Porcello form a three-headed monster in consecutive starts for the first time since they’ve been together. Again, it’s too early to get excited but things have certainly looked encouraging.
The one thing you can come back and challenge about this is the fact that they are facing anemic lineups. The Rays and Marlins both look like Triple-A clubs, which may have something to do with the lack of offense. If you want to look at it that way, that’s perfectly fine and consistent with being a Boston sports fan. However, all you can ask is for the Sox to take care of business against whomever the opponent is. That is what they have done thus far.
The next go-round for the rotation will be similar as Sale will get the Marlins tomorrow to kick it off. After that it’ll be Price, Porcello and Velazquez going against Tampa Bay in the opening series at Fenway. Finally, Brian Johnson will face a test against the New York Yankees next week. That’s when we’ll start to get a gauge on how things are going to go on the mound.
Many in Red Sox Nation were quick to slam Alex Cora when the team fell to the Tampa Bay Rays in their first game of the season. Cora pulled Chris Sale after six innings after giving up only one hit and striking out nine. This move led many to wonder why Cora didn’t let Sale continue his dominance. The criticism intensified after Joe Kelly and Carson Smith blew the Red Sox’s lead. It’s convenient to blame him for pulling Sale. However, Alex Cora needs patience and support from Red Sox Nation.
There’s a lot of pressure on Cora and the Red Sox this season. The team won back-to-back American League Eastern Division titles in 2016 and 2017, but fell in the first round. The front office finally lost patience with John Farrell who, despite bringing a World Series Championship to Boston in 2013, had become more of a detriment than an asset in recent seasons. His termination came as welcomed news, but that also meant his replacement would face tremendous scrutiny early into the 2018 season.
I’m not excusing Cora’s decision making in the team’s first game of the season. Many fans were left baffled by Cora’s decision to pull Sale after six innings. Sale wasn’t in trouble. The team had a 4-0 lead. It was entirely possible Sale could have thrown a one-hit shutout to start off the season. That’s not how it panned out though. Boston lost 6-4, and Red Sox Nation started criticizing Cora before the team had the chance to walk off the field.
Alex Cora Needs Support, But He Has a Lot to Learn
This season is Cora’s first as a manager. He’s going to need the first several weeks of the season to figure out what works and what doesn’t. It’s hard to blame him if he was thinking that he didn’t want to overextend Chris Sale so early in the season. In that case, pulling him after six innings makes sense. It’s hard to blame him for bringing Joe Kelly in too. In fact, Kelly took responsibility for his poor outing. “It was pretty pathetic what I did out there,” Kelly said in a Boston.com article.
Cora has a lot to learn about being a manager, especially in Boston where fans aren’t as forgiving as they are in other cities. But Cora isn’t John Farrell. It’s not fair to hold him to the standard Red Sox Nation held Farrell to last season. That doesn’t mean that Cora will get a pass in his first season though. Nor should he. While Cora might have a steep learning curve ahead of him, at the end of the day he’s still the manager. He’s going to have to learn to pick his battles, and figure out how key moves might play out before he tries them. So while Alex Cora needs Red Sox Nation’s support and patience, Alex Cora also needs to realize that patience and support doesn’t last as long in Boston as he did in Houston.
Let’s hope for the best for Alex Cora this season. But let’s also let him know that our patience and support isn’t infinite.
The Red Sox captured first place this summer and have hardly let go since. While the Yankees nip at their heels, Chris Sale’s arm and the rookies’ bats keep the Bronx Bombers at bay. On top of that, the Red Sox are creeping closer to finding a groove in a post-Ortiz world. But despite their recent stretch of wins, can the Red Sox reach the post season?
Their Pitching Is (Almost) There
The Red Sox are definitely getting their money out of Chris Sale. He’s leading the AL in wins, ERA, and strikeouts. He also pitches a fast game, which counts for a lot in an era where games last 3+ hours. Eduardo Rodriguez is almost healthy enough to begin carrying wins of his own. While he’s still young, his ability to accumulate seven or eight strikeouts a game is often overlooked. Drew Pomeranz came out of nowhere this year after a terrible debut season and already has double-digit wins. Joe Kelly can throw 100 MPH and serves as a good middle reliever. Craig Kimbrel always saves the game. David Price and Rick Porcello though? One’s a hot-head and the other is trying to stave off joining the 20-losses in a season club.
Their Rookies and Newcomers Will Help The Red Sox Reach The Post Season
Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers quickly dispelled any concerns they weren’t ready for the big leagues when they came up. Benintendi is a solid offensive as well as defensive guy. Devers is hitting home runs left and right. Eduardo Nunez seems to love playing in Boston. Even the veteran journeyman Chris Young can still make opposing pitchers shake in fear. Dustin Pedroia isn’t 100% (and may never be again) and Hanley Ramirez can’t quite lift his batting avert above .275. Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. still command the outfield as well as they can hit home runs. So will all this be enough to reach the post-season?
I love to bake but I’m not very good at it. That’s my sister Mary’s expertise. It doesn’t mean I don’t keep trying. Mary gives me her recipes and I follow them precisely. Despite my attention to detail, my creations often come out of the oven on fire. Needless to say that’s frustrating. The Red Sox front office and management must feel the same way about the lineup they assembled this season. After all, they have all the ingredients for a
championship team but no matter how careful they are they can’t catch first place. In some cases, like my cookies, they game catches fire, and not in a good way. Their offensive is inconsistent, and so is their pitching. Unlike recent years where the Red Sox were just bad, fans are watching a discombobulated Red Sox struggle on the mound and the plate.
First and foremost I will reiterate that the Red Sox need to break up with John Farrell. He knows how to rally the troops when his job is on the line, but then they become complacent and start losing again. But replacing Farrell isn’t the only thing the Sox need to focus on.
Porcello Can’t Get It Together
Rick Porcello ran away with the Cy Young Award last year after going 22-4 last season. That’s an .846 winning percentage. So it was only natural fans and management alike expected Porcello to do the same, of not better, this year. But as of June 16th Porcello is 3-8 and leading the league in losses. Seven of his eight losses came as a result of a lack of run support. Red Sox hitters didn’t score more than four runs in any of those losses. But it doesn’t help with Porcello gives up a lot of runs either. If Porcello can find a consistently reliable pitch then we’ll start seeing more wins out of him. But for now he’s part of the reason we’re seeing a discombobulated Red Sox team on the field.
Hitters Aren’t In Their Prime Yet
It’s exciting to see Jackie Bradley Jr. blast a home run 450 feet. But don’t forget he’s only hitting .232 so far this season. Everyone loves Andrew Benintendi but he’s just a rookie and has a long ways to go before he reaches his prime. Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts are strong hitters but still struggle to maintain consistency throughout the season. It’s going to be another season or two before these hitters are an ever-present threat to opposing pitchers. When they enter their prime though they’ll catch fire. Hopefully David Price stays healthy, Porcello shakes his slump, and Sale becomes better than ever.
Despite a less-than-stellar beginning with the Red Sox last season, Drew Pomeranz has become an unlikely ace this season. Pomeranz emerges as a reliable pitcher in the wake of a string of lineup injuries this season. David Price is just now returning. Steve Wright had season-ending surgery a while back. Rick Porcello is struggling to meet this season’s expectations. Eduardo Rodriguez is back on the DL. So with the Red Sox struggling to climb to first, manager John Farrell seems to depend more on Pomeranz’s control. At 5-3 with 64 K’s for the year, Pomeranz is on his way to having a career year.
Part of Pomeranz’s success this season stems from his cutter. A cutter is a fastball that cuts away towards the pitcher’s glove as it crosses home plate. While it’s been around since the 50’s, Mariano Rivera perfected it when he rose to dominance as a reliever. Another reason behind Pomeranz’s success is that few paid attention to him when the season began so the expectations, and the pressure, were low. All eyes were on Chris Sale and David Price. On top of that, Pomeranz had a terrible 2016 season with the Red Sox. He went 3-5 with a 4.59 ERA after joining the Sox in a trade from San Diego where he’d been an All-Star. No one expected him to perform.
Pomeranz Emerges As A Dependable Pitcher
A sorely missed David Price returned to the Red Sox last week. While he dominated the Orioles in his first game back, he may still not be 100%. Rick Porcello continues to struggle on the mound. Eduardo Rodriguez is on the DL again. Chris Sale is as solid as always. But the Red Sox only benefit by having Pomeranz in their rotation as he continues to develop his artillery of pitches. His National League experience helps too.
Who knows whether the Red Sox will take first place and the division this year. But one thing is for sure. As Pomeranz emerges as an unlikely ace, he’ll benefit the Red Sox as Price and Porcello find their consistency. If all four pitchers can come together to dominate the American League, it’ll be in parr to Pomeranz’s developing abilities.
The Red Sox are struggling. Acquiring Chris Sale made many believe the Red Sox finally had the best rotation in the American League. But then David Price went on the DL. Rick Porcello stopped winning games. Another rash of injuries followed the Red Sox into the infield. Sprained legs, sore elbows, vertigo, and the flu wreaked havoc on the Red Sox. So is a Red Sox recovery possible?
We’re going into June and the Red Sox are stubbornly lodged in second place as of May 30th. While the Red Sox won the division last year, they suffered dismal seasons in 2014 and 2015. What’s even worse is that its not as much fun to watch the team this year. What’s driving this losing season and what needs to happen to stop it?
John Farrell Needs To Go
After he was pulled, Drew Pomeranz and John Farrell had a little blowup in the dugout a few weeks ago. Farrell pulled Pomeranz after only four innings, leading him to question his manager in an exchange caught on camera. Blowups between players and managers aren’t uncommon. But this isn’t the first time a pitcher openly questioned Farrell. Wade Miley and Farrell screamed it out in June of 2015 when Farrell pulled him after giving up five runs in four innings. Any good boss knows open insubordination signals a lack of respect. The fact that his players feel like they can do that is a sign that Farrell may not have as much control over his players as he should. Despite their recent success against Texas and Seattle, fans got to ask how long that insubordination will last.
Motivation (Or a Lack Thereof) is Hurting a Red Sox Recovery
The Boston Marathon bombing motivated the Red Sox to win the 2013 World Series. Since then, we’ve lost a lot of our A-Listers including David Ortiz. Now it seems like the Red Sox are like a ship without a rudder. They don’t have a sense of direction. It’s as if they don’t know what they’re doing or where they want to go.
Let Farrell go. Keeping him at this point is like dating someone you don’t like anymore. All you’re really doing is waiting for something to give. Then designate a new team captain. The team needs someone from within who can motivate the rest of the team.
It’s not too late to take first place and take the division. We’re not even at the All-Star break yet. So while a Red Sox recovery is possible, the team needs to cut the dead wood adrift.