The Red Sox Rotation is Now a Strength

For almost three years, the Red Sox rotation has been a source of frustration. In 2014, Jon Lester was traded away, and Ben Cherington didn’t replace him. Boston lacked an ace for what felt like the longest time, until David Price was signed last winter. Under-performance early this season increased the worry among fans, but things have gradually clicked into place, giving the Red Sox a starting corps to be relied upon as October looms ahead.

A Resurgence for the Red Sox Rotation

In the past thirty days, the Red Sox rotation has pitched to a 3.19 ERA. Only two teams have a better mark in all of baseball: the Cubs and Rays. Boston is also fourth overall in FIP during that span, while a WHIP of 1.110 is the best any American League team can muster. Only the Blue Jays and Tigers have induced more soft contact in the past month among AL rivals, which suggests the Red Sox rotation has definitely turned a corner.

Red Sox rotation

Rick Porcello has emerged as the staff ace, as his 2.08 ERA in the past thirty days illustrates. But David Price has also improved greatly as the season has progressed. The big southpaw has a 2.36 ERA in his last six starts, and he appears to be peaking when it matters most. Meanwhile, Eduardo Rodriguez has a 2.67 ERA in his last five starts; Drew Pomeranz is at 3.31 over his last six; and Clay Buchholz has even returned from the dead with a 2.70 mark in his last 16.2 innings pitched.

Once a Weakness, Now a Strength

Whichever way you dice it, the Red Sox rotation, so often maligned, is quietly becoming a strength. Aside from the numbers, this group just inspires more confidence than it ever has before. Porcello and Price are experienced guys who should handle the pennant race pressure. Rodriguez seems to have ironed out a few issues. And the Sox still have Steven Wright to return from his stint on the disabled list, to compliment Pomeranz and Buchholz, who are also doing just fine.

All things considered, Boston is rounding into form at just the right time. The offense has been relentless all season, but it is now backed by a more consistent pitching staff. In general, the Sox seem to be grinding harder right now, and there is a newfound toughness to this team that has enabled it to win plenty of close games recently. That bodes well for the stretch run, which will feature plenty of games against division rivals such as Toronto and Baltimore.

Through all the hardship and uncertainty, here the Red Sox stand. It’s late August and they have a 71-54 record, good for a share of first place. Just thirty-seven games remain, and one last push is needed for a return to postseason play. For the first time in a long while, the Sox have a strong balance between offense, defense and pitching. Don’t look now, but this may be the most complete team in the American League.

Clay Buchholz: The Biggest Waste Of Time In Red Sox History

Baseball may still be a business, but the Boston Red Sox have certainly have not treated it as such with Clay Buchholz. Buchholz has been nothing short of a disappointment since 2010, for the exception of a terrific half-season in 2013, and he has really not been reprimanded for it. The problems stretch out to every facet of his game.

Buchholz On The Field

Since winning 17 games in 2010, Buchholz has primarily used his energy on excusesBuchholz instead of trying to get guys out it seems. For the exception of 2013, when he only started 16 games, Buchholz’s lowest ERA for a season since 2010 has been a fairly pedestrian 3.26 and now has a career ERA of 4.00. Also, there’s only been two seasons in his career where he has had a WHIP of under 1.2, about average for a starter. The two seasons his WHIP was under that were 2013 and 2007, when he only had three starts. However, one of those 2007 starts was a no-hitter. Had he had an average night of 5 hits allowed in 7 innings, his WHIP would be right back up to 1.3.

Buchholz Off The Field

The issue with Buchholz has not been entirely on the field though. He has become as famous for his post-game excuses as he has for his eccentric haircuts. In the 2013 World Series, the microphones were all in front of him before his start in Game 4. All Buchholz could talk about was how he was going to have a tough time pitching and basically complaining that the Red Sox would start him in such a big game. To the surprise of no one, Buchholz came out after four innings and was ultimately completely let off the hook with a World Series title.

The real red flag with Buchholz didn’t come about until the trade deadline of 2014. After Jon Lester and John Lackey were dealt, reporters flooded to Clay’s locker. Buchholz basically asked who the ace of the staff would be after that. That was when all hope was lost. Look in the freaking mirror Clay good God!

The veteran Texan has somehow still not matured to the major leagues on and off the field. We still hear about how great his stuff is, yet he still sucks. Must be mental, right? This guy turns 32 later this month, how has he not adjusted to this level? What a joke. Yet, he has not been traded. He has not been DFA’d. He has not gotten a fake injury for a DL stint. In fact, they found a spot for him in the bullpen. It is now past the trade deadline and he’s still here. How much longer must fans deal with this?

John Lackey Should Still Be With Boston

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher John Lackey was a strong contributor to the 2013 World Series team and trading him was a big mistake. Lackey had a roller coaster ride in a Sox uniform as he struggled in his first two seasons before becoming a reliable arm every fifth day for the organization. When the 2014 team was scuffling and the trade deadline came around, former Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington decided to part ways with John Lackey, trading him for Joe Kelly and Allen Craig.

Craig was struggling and his career looked to be dwindling and Kelly had his struggles inJohn Lackey the National League which typically doesn’t lead to success in the more hitter friendly American League. Meanwhile, Lackey seemed to be gaining form and becoming who the Sox thought they were getting him when they signed him to a five year $82.5 million deal. That improvement has continued and John Lackey is pitching like an ace, often going unnoticed behind Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester in the best starting pitching rotation in baseball.

Last season in St. Louis, Lackey had a 2.77 ERA and this season he has a 2.63 ERA for the Cubs. At this point in his career he will not wow you with his stuff but he hits his spots and gets guys out, something many Sox pitchers struggle to do. Lackey seems to be blossoming late in his career as last season was his best season to date and he’s on track to improve on those numbers this year. With John Lackey pitching so great, the Sox return of Joe Kelly and Allen Craig in the trade has been a catastrophe.

John Lackey Belongs with Red Sox Nation

Kelly has not established himself in the Sox rotation and is not looking likely to do so. Kelly has good stuff to work with but he has yet to put it together and it seems like yesterday the 28 year old was still a promising prospect. Kelly is now in the minor leagues, joining the other piece in the trade, Craig. Craig has been a disaster as he has been a minor leaguer for most of his tenure with the Sox organization. A once promising offensive player for the St. Louis Cardinals, Craig has seen his career vanish quickly and likely has played his last inning in the major leagues.

The Sox let go of a pitcher that was big time in the postseason in 2013 in order to gamble on a pitcher with upside who hadn’t put it together and a bat that was on the downfall. As a result, this trade is one of the worst in recent memory and the Sox 4.22 ERA as a pitching staff would be much better if Ben Cherington had stayed with John Lackey.

There Is No Need To Worry About David Price

Boston Red Sox new starting pitcher, David Price, has drawn a fair amount of criticism following his first seven starts as the ace of the staff. Playing in Boston can be very tough for a new player, especially one of Price’s magnitude. With such lofty expectations from a fan base that always expects the best, Price has been a major disappointment so far. Price is the first true ace this team has had since former Sox starting pitcher Jon David PriceLester left for the Chicago Cubs. Adjusting to a change of scenery can be tough for a star player and Lester’s first season for the Cubs, a 3.34 ERA with 207 strikeouts in 205 innings, should be the measuring stick Sox fans are using for Price’s first season in Boston. However, Sox fans may not be aware of the start Lester had in a Cubs uniform. Lester’s first seven starts in a Cubs uniform were only a tad bit better than Price’s have been for the Sox.

Through Lester’s first seven starts in a Cubs uniform, he had a 4.10 ERA with 40
strikeouts in 41.2 innings pitched. This performance certainly didn’t live up to the 6 year, $155 million contract he signed, and World Series hungry Chicago was also very concerned about their aging new ace. Similar to Lester, Price’s 6.75 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 41.1 innings pitched have not lived up to the 7 year $217 million contract that he signed this offseason. Both pitchers stumbled out of the gate for their new teams and Lester’s turnaround last year should be the expectation Sox fans have for Price. Lester and Price are very similar pitchers as well.

Both Lester and Price feature four pitches, a fastball, cutter, curveball and changeup, relying primarily on the fastball and cutter, throwing them over 70% of the time, according to FanGraphs. The main difference between the two is with their off speed stuff, Price relies on his changeup more and Lester puts more trust in the curveball. Both pitchers throw around the same speed at this point in their respective careers, Price’s average fastball velocity is around 92 mph, while Lester’s fastball sits around the 90-93 range. Location of pitches is the key for both of these pitchers in the latter stages of their careers. Price’s inability to locate his pitches have been the reason for his struggles. Luckily for Sox fans, this can easily be fixed.

David Price: Location Issues Are The Reason For His Early Season Struggles

Although he has showed strong command, allowing just 12 walks, the issue has been more of where he’s leaving the ball in the strike zone, in places hitters can destroy a pitcher. For example, in his last start he threw a pitch down and inside to Carlos Beltran, a guy who has killed that pitch during his long career. As a result, Beltran doubled in two runs. Price has the experience to know that this is the real issue, not his velocity.

With the pedigree Price brings, Sox fans should not be concerned but rather have faith in Price turning it around and performing as the ace. The baseball season is long and to critique a pitcher of Price’s caliber just seven starts in is not justifiable. His strikeout rate and the limited walks are elite and when he figures out his location, everything else will be elite as well. This Thursday’s start against the strikeout prone Astros in front of the Fenway crowd will provide him with a great opportunity to show off his still great stuff and silence the early season criticism.

Red Sox Fans Now Chicago Cubs Fans

For one month, and one month only,  much of Red Sox Nation has jumped on the Chicago Cubs bandwagon. Why? Because the Cubs have suffered longer than Red Sox fans, going 107 years without a championship. After the Red Sox waited 86 years in between championships, most of Red Sox Nation can empathize with the Cubs, and were quick to jump on their bandwagon.

And when you look at the Chicago Cubs, it’s not hard to find reasons to root for them. For Chicago Cubsstarters, ex-Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester, part of 2 championships, and ex-GM Theo Epstein, who built the team who broke the “Curse of the Bambino,” are both with the Cubs now. Not to mention Manny Ramirez, who won the World Series MVP in 2004, and David Ross, who was one of the leaders of the beard movement in 2013. Second, the Cubs are loaded with young talent, notably Jake Arrieta and Kris Bryant. Those are just a couple of the things the Cubs have going for them.

But the main thing? Empathy. For 86 years, the Red Sox were in the same boat as the Cubs. While our curse involved a questionable trade, being unlucky in the World Series, a missed ground ball, and a few ill-timed home runs by the New York Yankees, we eventually broke it after 86 years. The Cubs are cursed in a different way; theirs involving a goat, a tavern, and an unfortunate case of fan interference back in 2003 in the NLCS against the Florida Marlins. So, the Red Sox and Cubs are similar in that they were both cursed for long periods of time.

Personally, I really hope the Cubs finish the job. They need to break their curse, since they’re the only team left with a “curse”, and they need to win it all. They’ll face the New York Mets in the NLCS. Go Cubs.

Red Sox Unlikely to Make Major Moves

This past season has been a massive disappointment for most of Red Sox Nation, to the point where one fan was caught on camera barfing from the right field deck during Wednesday night’s game against the Chicago White Sox. But the most disappointing thing so far? Probably the fact that the team has yet to even attempt to make a major move this year. At least at this time last year, they were trying to make moves and trying to make the team better.

The return for dealing Jon Lester and John Lackey was a bad return on investment, to sayRed Sox the least, as none of the pieces they ultimately received has made much of an impact, but at least they made some kind of effort last year. This year is a different story, though. The front office hasn’t made much of an effort to even build for the future before the deadline this year, and barring something dramatic, that won’t happen this time around.

Mind you, something dramatic could still happen, but it seems unlikely that the Red Sox make a major move. Rumors are still out there that they could go after Tyson Ross and Craig Kimbrel on the San Diego Padres, but with the deadline this afternoon, it seems like a long shot.

I’m thinking this trade deadline will pass without the team making any major moves, which would be the worst possible outcome for the tea, but the good news is that they at least have a couple pieces to build around in the off-season, namely guys like Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Brock Holt, but it would have been nice to see the Red Sox go out and get a veteran starter or bullpen help to make it easier, but the Red Sox would need a miracle at this point for that to happen.

The best we can hope for is that they can get someone in free agency, but that might be too much to expect at the moment.