OK, I will go ahead and say what every baseball fan is thinking: what the hell has happened to the Boston Red Sox?! What happened to the team that went 97-65 last year and won the World Series? This team isn’t even remotely close to the team we saw raise the World Series trophy last October.
The low point of the 2014 season happened on Thursday when the Red Sox were routed by the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park 7-2. The loss was Boston’s seventh in a row.
The Red Sox went winless on their home stand for the first time in 20 years. Boston has a multitude of issues right now, the first of which is their lack of offense.
Last season, the Red Sox had one of the best offenses in baseball as they were second in the AL in batting average and fifth in homeruns. This season, Boston is 22nd in the majors in hitting as the team is averaging .245. They are also 19th in runs scored.
David Ortiz, who is having another All-Star like season, doesn’t have any protection in the lineup. The Red Sox also don’t have a true lead-off hitter who can take walks and steal bases batting in front of Dustin Pedroia and Ortiz.
First baseman Mike Napoli has missed the last two games with flu-like symptoms, so that hasn’t helped. While he hasn’t had a homerun since April 22, Napoli still provides enough of a threat that teams have to be careful about walking Ortiz.
The signing of shortstop Stephen Drew will help the Red Sox offense a bit since he was .284 with nine home runs against right-handed pitchers last season. However, the team still needs players like Grady Sizemore and Jackie Bradley Jr. to improve on their batting average and production.
The biggest and probably the most shocking issue for the Red Sox right now is the way their starting pitching has performed in 2014. Clay Buchholz has been plain awful as he has a 2-4 record and a 6.32 ERA. His ERA is the second-highest among all major league pitchers who have thrown at least 40 innings.
Only Minnesota’s Kevin Correia (6.52) has a worse ERA than Buchholz, who has given up 14 runs on 29 hits in his last 15 innings. Buchholz isn’t the only pitcher struggling for the Red Sox right now.
Felix Doubront has been inconsistent as he has a 2-4 record with a 5.12 ERA. Jake Peavy has already given up nine home runs in nine games the season.
Jon Lester, Thursday’s game aside, has been the Red Sox best pitcher, and John Lackey has been steady throughout the season. The problem is the Red Sox need more consistency in the three, four and five spots in the rotation.
There aren’t any immediate plans to bring up Brandon Workman and/or Allen Webster from Triple-A, but if the bottom of the rotation continues to struggle, the team may have to think about bringing one or both of them up.
Catcher A.J. Pierzynski has also been labeled as a problem for the Red Sox and for good reason. He has been behind the plate for four of Jon Lester’s starts, including yesterday when the pitcher allowed seven runs in the first two innings. Lester is 0-4 with a 5.76 ERA while working with Pierzynski this season. When backup catcher David Ross is behind the plate, Lester is 4-2 with a 1.92 ERA.
On May 23, 2013, the Red Sox were 28-20. This year, they are 20-26 and in fourth place in the AL East. Only Houston and Tampa Bay have more losses than Boston.
So while it is only May, the Red Sox really need to start to turn it around now. With the Braves, Tigers and Orioles all on the schedule in the next couple of weeks, the team really can’t afford to get in a deeper hole than they are already in.