Why the Red Sox troubles are here to stay
written by: Michael Settipani
Almost two months into the season the Red Sox have some troubling issues, that I think are here to stay. The starting rotation has not been great, the bullpen has been average, and the lineup has faltered. Let’s start off with pitching. There’s no ace on this staff, and as many of you have seen by now, the starting rotation is very suspect. It’s hard to predict on a given day which pitcher can be relied on to give a consistent start. The Red Sox rank second to last in starters’ ERA and have given up the second most runs as a staff, only behind the Toronto Blue Jays. The Red Sox have a run differential of -37 for the season. While the pitching has been better off late, I’m not positive it will continue. I do not believe this rotation is as bad as what they showed in April, but let’s be honest- they all are just mediocre pitchers. None of these pitchers have proven that they can be a number one pitcher or lead a staff. There might be hope for Buchholz, but it is a questionable hope to say the least. He has never been the ace and has yet to pitch over 200 innings. Porcello and Miley have been hit or miss. Kelly did not even last two innings against the Twins on Monday. Masterson has performed so poorly all year that he is on the disabled list with arm fatigue with a journeyman knuckle ball pitcher in his spot. Nothing points to this rotation becoming good, never mind great. The bullpen has been average, and at the moment are not a major concern. What could hurt the bullpen is how much they have worked this short into the season. The fact that they have been so overworked could result into more problems down the road.
Secondly, the strength of this team was suppose to lie in the lineup. A major problem is the lack of hitting with runners in scoring position. The Sox rank dead last with around a .200 batting average in this category. That is dreadful for a team with this kind of payroll and talent. Instead of trying to play small ball, they all try to hit the ball onto the Mass Pike. Another problem is the Sox have a right handed dominant lineup, and the team is second to last in batting average against left handed pitching. Napoli, Betts, Pedroia, Ortiz, and Sandoval are all hitting below .240 against lefties. Now I know everyone is going to say I am overreacting with this lineup, but I do not see how it will get significantly better. They do not possess a lead off batter that reaches base consistently, and instead are relying far too much on young players such as Betts, Bogaerts, Swihart, and Castillo who have very little Major League experience. There isn’t a consistent right fielder with Victorino having stint after stint on the disabled list, Ramirez and Napoli are very streaky hitters, and Ortiz and Pedroia are not getting any younger. Ortiz average and power numbers are down as of now. Ramirez had 10 homers in the month of April, but has none in May. Napoli has had a productive week, but before this run showed little promise. Pedroia is only 31 years old, but he has declined each year since his 2008 MVP season. Sandoval has been excellent batting lefty, but the same can’t be said batting righty with only a .071 average. The bulk of the lineup expected to do the most damage has done very little thus far. Nava and Holt are bench players that have zero expectations. This lineup has potential, but has many holes. Though it’s safe to say I feel more confident in the lineup than the pitching, hitting can only get you so far.
The Red Sox will continue dealing with these woes for the rest of the season. I do not believe in the pitching staff, and lineup is worse than projected. The only bright side for the Red Sox is that they belong to a very bad division known as the AL East, seeing as despite all of these issues, they still remain 2.5 games out of first place.