Shockingly Poor Start For The Red Sox

Not what you expected to happen, right? The Sox played four meaningful games in March, one last night, and now it’s April 2nd. The team lost 3 of 4 in Seattle and were shut out last night in Oakland. To say the least, 2019 has been a shockingly poor start for the Red Sox.

The starting pitching has been horrific. Chris Sale, Nathan Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez,shockingly poor start Rick Porcello, and David Price have now all pitched. The results are ugly: 26 earned runs and eleven home runs allowed in 21 innings. The bullpen has not been much better. The club’s eight relievers have all been used, and in 20 innings, have surrendered 20 hits, 7 earned runs, 4 home runs, and eight walks. Matt Barnes has collected the team’s lone save.

In regards to hitting, reigning MVP Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi, who bat one-and-two in the lineup, both have on-base percentages (OBP) of .250. Only Mitch Moreland, Xander Bogaerts, and J.D. Martinez own an on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) over .800. In comparison to other teams, Boston ranks in the top-5 in all hitting categories, but in the bottom-5 in most pitching ranks.

Now that we know all of that, we must address the key question, which is: what is going on with the Red Sox and why have they come out “flat” after winning the World Series last year?

Pitching is the problem

The starting pitching, besides Price’s performance last night, have not given the offense a chance to get going. 7 runs were allowed in the first 3 innings of game-1, 3 runs through two innings in game-2, 2 runs in the first inning of game-3, and 9 runs through 3 innings of game-4.

In 2018, the Red Sox were the only team that qualified for the postseason to have four hitters (with at least 500 plate appearances) record an OPS of at least .830: Betts, Benintendi, Martinez, and Bogaerts. First baseman Steve Pearce, who played in just 50 regular season games with the team down the stretch, recorded a .901 OPS. One could attribute Betts’s .598 OPS, Benintendi’s .375 OPS, and Pearce’s absence (calf injury) to the poor start for the Red Sox.

Also in 2018, Boston was the only team (postseason eligible) to have a player save more than 40 games with a WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) less than 1.00. That player? Craig Kimbrel – he is not back with the club this year. Kimbrel’s presence in the bullpen could factor in nicely moving forward and take some pressure off relievers.

Poor attitude

One factor to the shockingly poor start for the Red Sox that cannot be measured by statistics is their attitude. Their leader, manager Alex Cora, was asked during postgame if there was any concern following the team’s loss last night.

“Not really. It’s five games. When you go through stretches like this, it (stinks) that it’s early in the season, but yeah, we have to pick it up.”

Cora’s nonchalant demeanor is not changing the way the team is approaching games. The top of the lineup needs to get going. Cora announced today on MLB Network that Betts will move back to the leadoff spot. The starting pitching now starts its second turn. So far this season, Sox pitchers have allowed the most runs in the American League. They rank second-to-last in earned run average (ERA) and batting average against (BAA). In addition, Boston is the only AL team to not record a quality start.

Tonight’s first pitch is at 10:07 PM/ET. We’ll see if things start to change this evening in what has been a shockingly poor start for the Red Sox.

World Series Game 4, A Team Effort from Start to Finish

World Series Game 4

World Series Game 4 featured some improved bats in the lineup, including a late addition made at batting practice, Jonny Gomes. Gomes hit a home run, scoring 3 men and giving the team a 4 run lead. Believe it or not, Stephen Drew improved his offensive performance and earned an RBI with a hit to right field, scoring David Ortiz prior to Gomes’ bomb into one of the deepest parts of that St. Louis field. Each and every player pushed hard, together as a team, to overcome the Game 3 loss. Game 3 worried many members of Red Sox Nation. We know every move these players make is crucial to a win. What pressure! Still, pressure is what the post season is all about.

Pitching was handled as a team effort, too. Forever fighting, Clay Buchholz began the game. Many members of the bullpen, including Felix Doubront, John Dempster, Junichi Tazawa, John Lackey, and Koji Uehara followed him. Each man performed and stitched together innings that held the Cardinals to only 2 runs. Wise decision making by John Farrell and Juan Nieves.

Overall, an impressive observation of the Red Sox’ game is that when they lose, they lose tight games. Game 3 was won by 1 point. When they win, they win by over 2 points. When one team member gets on base, in Game 4 it was David Ortiz, additional hits are sure to follow. Everyone rises to the occasion, which is rare in modern day baseball where players seem to be playing for personal stats, salaries, and status. Focus on the team begins with management. Once the players know that Farrell and Nieves care, it encourages the team to come together and work hard as one. This clubhouse camaraderie was missing last year under Bobby Valentine. Now it is back. Hopefully it is here to stay.

On to Game 5. Go Sox!