Monday, April 26, 2010

Red Sox Pitching Is A Big Fat Mess Right Now

A 4-1 lead was squandered Sunday by the Red Sox bullpen for a 7-6 loss in 10 innings. The Oki-Doke gave up a bomb to Miguel Tejada and the pen went south from there. Sunday suckage.

The offense--which has looked anemic at times (especially during the Rays series)-- was a bit more clutch during the Orioles and Rangers series, but it can't play comeback kings every day. At least some of the key-injury replacements in Hermida and McDonald have been producing for Navajo Jewish Lawyer (Ellsbury) and swing-and-miss Mike (Cameron). But as Mazz rightly pointed out, run differentials in the last week were abysmal. He wrote:

In six games against the Orioles and Texas Rangers, the Sox scored 32 runs … and allowed 32. (For the sabermetricians: that’s a run differential of zero.) All four Boston victories were by a single run and both Boston defeats came in games in which they were leading or tied entering the seventh inning.

The bigger and more alarming issue is the pitching. When I say pitching, I mean all of it: Starters and relievers. The numbers don't lie: Walks are way up for everyone. Earned run averages are bloated. They all seem to be struggling to keep opponents off the bases and out of scoring position.

Don't think the starters are that bad so far? Four out of the 5 in the rotation have ERAs over 5. OVER 5! Only Buchholz is showing solid starter numbers so far at 2.70--and not one reliever has an ERA under 2. Surprisingly, Manny Delcarmen has the best ERA of all relievers at 2.16.

Here's an ERA breakdown of starters and key relievers:

Lester: 6.23
Beckett: 5.26
Lackey: 5.09
Wakefield: 5.40
Okajima: 4.70
Ramirez: 7.56
Papelbon: 2.70

Feel free to argue that it's really early and these guys have spring kinks to work out. I would agree except for another major statistical problem: Walks. Add to that the inability to throw runners out and you have intense pressure on pitchers to either get strikeouts or pitch to contact. Contact has not been leading to enough outs.

Look at these walk numbers (BB per 9 innings):

Beckett: 3.51
Lackey: 3.52
Lester: 5.40
Buchholz: 3.78
Wakefield: 2.88
Papelbon: 7.20
Delcarmen: 6.48
Okajima: 4.70

So while the Red Sox took two of three in the last two series, the numbers are tough to swallow. Don't be surprised to see some bullpen moves from Theo soon. For starters, Wakefield moves to the pen as Dice K is due to pitch this coming weekend at Camden Yahds in B-More.

Time to beat up on the bottom rung of the AL East.