My fickle friend, the summer wind…
As the days and nights have gotten warmer, the Red Sox have cooled off. Since June first, Boston split a four game series with Baltimore, sandwiched in between two (frankly brutal) weekend series losses to Toronto. I’d hate to sound like Captain Obvious here, but if you want to compete, you have to beat good teams, and you have to beat the teams in your division.
Now, I realize the season is still relatively young, but the concerns have been piling up for the Sox for a few weeks now. What are those concerns? I’ll tell you.
Starting Pitching: This team’s rotation is embarrassing. There’s only been one consistently good starter for the Sox all season, and it’s not even our 217 million dollar Ace. It’s the once spot-filling knuckleballer, Steven Wright. I love Wright: he’s been awesome, but it’s a stark reminder of how bleak the situation with the starting staff is when he’s their stopper. David Price has been solid in his past few starts, but he has yet to be his dominant self, which scares me. Is he hurt? Is he declining rapidly? Does he have Dengue Fever from the mosquitoes at Fenway? Who knows. I’m just hoping he’s going to build on his semi-strong past few starts and be David Price again by the time it’s Summer. Rick Porcello busted through his low ceiling in April and into May, but he’s run out of jet fuel and come crashing down to his low floor in his past few outings. His ERA now sits over four. He has zero confidence in his stuff. It’s rough… Eduardo Rodriguez had a rough go of it last Sunday, and that’s going to happen sometimes. He’s 23, and coming back from a knee injury. He shouldn’t be counted on to be the savior of the staff. It’s not fair to him, and you’ll torture yourself all Summer long, hoping he will put the team on his back. Let him do his thing. He’ll be fine. I have nothing left to say about Clay Buchholz and Joe Kelly. You both stink.
Relief Pitching: Remember a few weeks ago when I said the Red Sox pen would be fine without Carson Smith in the long run? So much for that! The bullpen has been gar-baj lately, with several familiar narratives. Koji Uehara is 41 years old, and Junichi Tazawa pitches ever four seconds. Tommy Layne and Robbie Ross Jr. are “meh”, and Craig Kimbrel is the opposite of Taz. He’s not in all that often, so he’s tight and rusty when he does come in after a few days of not pitching.
Injuries: The Sox are pretty banged up right now. Aside from losing Carson Smith for Tommy John surgery and Brock Holt to a concussion, Ryan Hanigan and Blake Swihart have been placed on the 15 day disabled list, respectively. Thankfully, in the short term, Chris Young has stepped up and been a more than passable starting left fielder. The problem is that with Swihart hurt, their biggest trade piece is on the shelf. I like Swihart a lot, but he would almost certainly have to be the center of a trade package in order to retain Yoan Moncada, Andrew Benintendi and Anderson Espinoza and send a legit number two starter to Boston.
Offense: The Red Sox offense has come back to reality these past few games, and that’s fine. That’s what’s going to happen over the course of the season. That said, having two no-hitters going deep into the game against you in three days is pretty gruesome. It makes you wish your crap pitching could have gotten you two wins in Baltimore when you scored seven and nine runs respectively… Pitching will either bury you, or lift you to the promised land. It’s not 1998 anymore. Offense can’t be your only game. The bats can’t be expected to score an unholy amount of runs night in and night out.
The Sox have a crazy hard schedule in the second half. They’ll need all hands on deck, plus I’d guess a little extra help from the outside if they want to stay in this thing all Summer long…