Bullpen Woes Continue to Plague Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox are currently in Detroit for a four-game series. The Red Sox dropped the first two games before winning 7-5 on Sunday. Bullpen woes played a role in their first two losses, an issue the team has faced for a few seasons now. Between injuries and inconsistent playing time, their bullpen has failed to find their groove. Although Boston won the third game of the series with one more to go, they still have a lot to work on. If they don’t, the bullpen woes will cost the team a playoff birth.

The box scores indicate where the relief pitching often collapses. Their startersbullpen woes are decent, but not strong. Friday’s game saw starter Steve Wright give up four earned runs through six innings. The Red Sox scored five of their own but it wasn’t enough. Reliever Heath Hembree’s inability to stop the Tigers’ led to their victory as he gave up two runs for a 6-5 loss. They can’t afford to make these kinds of mistakes so early in the season. Yes, it is early, but its better to face these issues sooner than later. It will only get worse because opposing teams will continue to focus their offensive efforts on the relievers.

Late Inning Offensive Is Just as Bad As The Sox Bullpen Woes

It’s only fair to point out that the Red Sox bullpen would be stronger if they had the run support. The Red Sox don’t have much of a problem scoring runs early on. It’s the later innings when opposing pitchers, who by then have faced the same hitter a few times, know how to retire the side. I’ve been saying this for a while now. The Red Sox have an issue with overcoming deficits. Opposing pitchers know the lineup too well and it doesn’t seem like Farrell’s doing much to change his tactics (Admittedly, I wrote this line before today’s victory over Detroit).

Boosting their later inning offense could be the solution Farrell needs, as was evident in today’s victory over Detroit. We saw the Red Sox rally in the top of the 8th by scoring three runs, just enough for Craig Kimbrel to pick up the save. The Red Sox might see more victories like this if they continue to focus on offense. This could be the key. If the team can build the run support in later innings like they did today, the bullpen will have more breathing room and can focus on saving the game.

Today’s victory over Detroit is a model the Red Sox should follow the next time they fall behind. What you saw in the 8th inning today were simple hit-and-run tactics managers don’t focus on often enough anymore. Get on base, drive them home, rack up the runs.

Let’s hope the Red Sox use today’s victory as a model for future success.

Keeping Perspective On The 2016 Red Sox Season

The Red Sox swept the basement-dwelling Arizona Diamondbacks in a 3-game set over the weekend making it is easy to lose perspective on the 2016 Red Sox season as a whole. They outscored Arizona 31-9 over the span of the series and gave fans hope for October baseball.2016 Red Sox

Even with the series sweep, the Red Sox still have a tough road ahead. And by tough, I mean really tough. Over the next week and a half, the Red Sox will travel to four different cities with no off-days. Of those four teams, three of them are within a game and a half of a playoff spot. For all intents and purposes, they’re in the “playoff picture”.

The 2016 Red Sox Going Forward

The trip starts Monday with one game in Cleveland, a make-up from the opening series of the year. Drew Pomeranz starts against the Tribe, who is still winless in a Red Sox uniform. This road trip will also be without Steven Wright, who went on the 15-day DL Monday. Wright has gone 13-5 this year and is tied for the league lead in complete games with four. Not being able to roll out Wright for an assured eight innings may prove costly on such a long road trip.

After Cleveland, it will be two games in Baltimore then four in Detroit. Both of these teams are hot in the race and the Orioles are still ahead of the Red Sox in the AL East. This next week can certainly widen a Red Sox lead in the Wild Card and could even make a push for the division lead. The Orioles are an AL-best 39-17 in their confines of Camden Yards however, making the task that much more difficult.

The bullpen could still be an issue for this team, though. With the exception of the tremendous inning by Brad Ziegler Saturday night, the last week has been nightmarish for the pen. The Red Sox will need better work from Robbie Ross, Fernando Abad, and Junichi Tazawa to make a serious playoff push.

That being said, the sweep means the Red Sox are far from out of it. If they can come out on the plus side of this road trip, they will have a new lease on life. After the summer they have had, Red Sox fans should count their blessings. Basically, this road trip will show what the 2016 Red Sox are really made of.

It’s Time to Worry About David Price

David Price was supposed to be the savior. When the Red Sox gave him a seven-year, $217 million contract in the winter, a major void was filled at Fenway Park. The ghost of Jon Lester was exorcised, as Boston welcomed the most expensive pitcher ever to grace planet earth. Here was the leader of a new generation.

David Price

Fast forward seven months, and that situation is yet to materialize. Steven Wright has been the Red Sox’ ace this season, while David Price has struggled in a variety of ways. Fans waited through the early April struggles, when the new superstar was settling in. Then they waited a few more weeks, a couple extra months. David Price is still yet to deliver. And with August rounding into view, it’s time to debate exactly what’s happening. It might even be time to worry.

David Price Has a Great Track Record

Quite simply, David Price has never pitched this bad for this long. He came up with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008, famously closing out their ALCS triumph over the Red Sox. He then developed a brilliant reputation, with a 3.18 ERA in 170 starts. Price won twenty games and the Cy Young Award in 2012, further enhancing his legacy. The Tigers traded for him in 2014, and he was even better in Detroit, pitching to a 2.90 ERA. Finally, he was dealt to the Blue Jays last season and became a key cog in a team that reached the postseason for the first time in twenty-two years.

Nobody doubts the resume. Throughout his career, David Price has been a dominant horse capable of anchoring any rotation. The Red Sox were in dire need of that, and they pursued him hard in free agency. Price was viewed as the next great Boston ace, in the mold of Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling and Josh Beckett. He was the guy onto whom Red Sox Nation conveyed so much expectation. He was the cornerstone.

So far, it just hasn’t worked out. David Price currently has a 9-7 record, a 4.51 ERA and a 1.275 WHIP. Only two pitchers in all of baseball have allowed more hits: Mike Pelfrey and Marcus Stroman. Perhaps these numbers would be acceptable early in the season, as a new player becomes accustomed to fresh surroundings. But it’s no longer April. It’s no longer May or June. We have just sixty-four games left in the regular season, and the highest-paid pitcher in baseball history has been barely league average for the Boston Red Sox.

The Future of David Price

David Price knows he hasn’t been good enough. In every press conference, he has owned it. Perhaps more than any athlete in Boston sports history, he’s looked at the camera and criticized himself at appropriate times. That’s good. We appreciate that. But it still doesn’t change the fact that the Red Sox have extracted very little value from the part of this deal one would expect to be the most productive. David Price is only going to age from here on out. Generally, his performance is only going to trend downwards, just like any pitcher over the age of thirty. And if he’s already struggling to perform in Year One, the landscape is pretty scary moving forward.

While Price has accepted responsibility for his productivity, the wider public has been very lenient, perhaps to a fault. We’ve heard plenty of excuses. It was too cold. It was too windy. There’s something wrong with his mechanics. Enough already. David Price could be the nicest guy in the world, but he’s still not getting the job done with enough regularity. Therefore, it’s quite strange to see how little criticism he’s received. That may be a good thing, and a step in the right direction, but I can’t remember such an under-performing Boston star receiving this much support from the fans.

Hopefully that faith is rewarded. Hopefully David Price will rediscover his old delivery, his old strategy, his old magic. Hopefully the ace begins to deliver when it matters most, should October baseball return to Yawkey Way.

David Ortiz’s Best Moments in a Sox Uniform

David Ortiz hit his 500th home run over the weekend in one of the few highlights of the Red Sox season to date. This gives new life to the “Should he be in the Hall?” debate, but that’s a separate article for another time. What isn’t up for debate is that David Ortiz had many great moments as a member of the Red Sox.

I’ll highlight what I thought were his absolute 5 best moments in a Red Sox uniform. This listDavid Ortiz is in no way perfect, and it was difficult to pick just 5 because there are so many, like I said. Also, this list is in no particular order, so keep that in mind as you read this.

5.) “This our bleeping city!” I think we all remember when David went on TV before the game against the Royals and said this, which summed up how Boston was feeling a few days after the tragic events of the Boston Marathon a few days before that.

4.) His on-field heroics during the 2013 World Series: That year, he reached base in 19 of 25 plate appearances and hit 11-16 (.688 average) and ran away with the World Series MVP on his way to carrying the Red Sox to their 3rd championship in 10 years. Pretty amazing.

3.) His grand slam in game 2 of the 2013 ALCS: Speaking of 2013 heroics, let’s talk about the grand slam against the Detroit Tigers in Game 2 of the ALCS. That tied the game up at 5 when he hit it, and helped the team avoid going 0-2 at home.

2.) His walk-off heroics against the Evil Empire: Back to 2004. David Ortiz helped spark a rally from down 3-0 by first hitting a walk off home run in Game 4, then following that up with a walk off single in Game 5. That gave the team a huge momentum boost that the carried through the remainder of that series and into the World Series that year.

1.) Hitting home run #500: This season hasn’t been memorable, but David Ortiz hitting #500 is a huge milestone, and one of the main reasons fans kept up with the team, even after the season was essentially over.

Again, it was really hard to narrow this down to just 5 with so many to choose from, but there you have it. David Ortiz’s best moments with the Red Sox. Feel free to disagree or suggest your own. There are plenty Papi moments to choose from.

Rick Porcello Gives Up 3 Runs in Rehab Start With PawSox

In what has been a wildly unsuccessful first season with the Red Sox, Rick Porcello completed what should be his final rehab outing with the Pawtucket Red Sox on Friday night before returning to the Red Sox rotation for the last five weeks of the season. Porcello will likely replace Matt Barnes in the rotation, unless the team finally decides that Joe Kelly should get an audition in the bullpen.

After a shaky first inning in which Porcello gave up two runs while hitting a batter and Rick Porcelloallowing three stolen bases, Porcello calmed down to allow just one run in the remaining 4.2 innings he went. Overall he went 5.2 while allowing 3 hits, 3 earned runs, striking out 6 including 4 of the last 5 batters he faced and walking none. Obviously the main focus for Porcello is keeping the ball down, especially his fastball which has been hammered this season when it has been left up in the strike zone. He is a sinker ball pitcher, but seems to rely on his fastball too much and looks like he over throws at times. It’s okay Rick if you can’t throw 99—the Red Sox already have Joe Kelly over throwing as it is.

The next month of the season for Porcello will be a big test as he looks to right the ship on what has been a rough start to his Red Sox career. After being acquired from the Tigers in a winter trade, Porcello signed a 4 year extension with the team paying him over $80 million before he even threw a pitch in a Red Sox uniform.

Obviously that contract is a lot to live up to, but Red Sox fans should remember that John Lackey’s first few years with the Red Sox weren’t great either and he went on to help them win a World Series in 2013. Time is on Porcello’s side to prove he is a better pitcher than he has looked this season. However, to expect him to live up to that contract may be farfetched.

Dave Dombrowski, recently named President of Baseball Operations for the Red Sox, is the man who drafted Porcello, but also the man who traded him, so we will soon find out how he really feels about Porcello. Obviously his results this season will not make it easy to move him, but maybe if he is counted on less, he will be a much better pitcher next season.

Rick Porcello Signs 4-yr, $82.5 Million Extension with Red Sox

RICK PORCELLO

The Red Sox announced last night that pitcher Rick Porcello has agreed to a four year extension worth in the neighborhood of $82,500,000. The righty also received a $500,000 signing bonus. He will be paid $20 million next year as well as in 2017, and $21 million in 2018 and 2019. His 2015 contract remains a mere $12.5 million.

Porcello was headed for free agency after this season. Following his trade from the Detroit Tigers in December for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, he came to terms on a one-year, Rick Porcello$12.5 million deal. The Red Sox now will have Porcello under contract until he’s 30 years old.

The 26-year-old is scheduled to start the team’s second game of the new season, Wednesday night against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Last year he went 15-13 with a career-best 3.43 ERA, and the first in which he pitched at least 200 innings (204). Lifetime, he is 76-63 with a 4.30 ERA, and a .547 winning percentage.

Since coming into the major leagues six years ago, he has consistently hit double figures in wins, but has never had an ERA lower than 3.43, which he attained last year, and which was his career best. Last year he led the American League in shutouts with three.

So, while this might seem like quite a bit of money for somebody who is just a bit above a lifetime .500 pitcher, the thought process must be that he is young and will only get better. Had he played out what could have been a contract year and done well, he surely would have fielded some bigger and longer offers.

Porcello grew up in Morristown, New Jersey, less than an hour from Yankee Stadium; he attended Seton Hall University, so it’s a good bet that Hank Steinbrenner would have been angling to bring him closer to home. That won’t happen for some time now.