So far we’ve watched the Red Sox addition via trade obtain one win, four losses, and just one quality start. It’s safe to say that right now, Andrew Cashner hasn’t justified Boston’s decision to part with prospects, even though they were only in rookie ball.
He was cheap. He was having one of the more solid seasons of his career. And the Red Sox needed to do something to bolster the back end of a rotation was that gasping for air with every passing start. So it’s tough to be completely upset with Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox front office for making the move to bring Cashner in. Because frankly, at the time, it made sense.
As the trade deadline approached, it was evident what the Red Sox needed to do if they wanted to maintain an opportunity at taking hold of a wild card spot and still remain in somewhat contention for the American League East crown–after winning it the prior three seasons. While it was the bullpen that took the brunt end of the blame for the club’s underwhelming season, the starting pitching was certainly right there with them when discussing which aspect of the team deserves a majority of said blame. So what did we anticipate? Dombrowski would go ahead and add on a low tier starter–much like he did with the addition of Nathan Eovaldi last season around the same time–and he’d also add on a bullpen piece. Whether that piece was just a depth move to bolster the ‘pen as a whole, or if it was a bonified closer. Either way, the expectation was there that something would be done.
In his defense, Dombrowski was limited with what he could do after ownership made it clear that they didn’t want to exceed the luxury tax again. So the move to bring Cashner in fit the bill. There wasn’t a need to purge the already baren farm system to land him, the team would be paying just $1,577,000 of the remaining part of his deal and it’d only be a rental through the end of 2019. And, from an on the field standpoint, Cashner was having a very solid year.
But since he threw on his Red Sox uniform, things have gone from bad to worse for the 32-year-old, mullet-wearing vet.
Something that the team hasn’t gotten enough of this season from their rotation is quality starts. And today, I ran across a tweet that was jarring when discussing this very topic.
— Tom Caron (@TomCaron) August 11, 2019
The initial tweet there from Peter Gammons is a perfect summarization of the team’s season. The Red Sox have three fewer quality starts than the Miami Marlins. A team with a 44-73 record and is nowhere near in contention for their division or a wild card spot. In a word, that’s putrid.
And Tom Caron follows it up perfectly. The Red Sox are 32-11 this season when they have their starting pitcher hand them a quality start. This team has a starting five that’s comprised of David Price, Chris Sale, and Rick Porcello. Two of those three names are former Cy Young winners and the one who isn’t has been one of the most dominating pitchers over this past decade.
Bringing it back around to Cashner, his addition has done nothing to help aid this team’s chances at making it to the postseason. And obviously, that’s not his fault entirely. But as a whole when talking about the most underperforming part of this team, if you’re to add a starting arm to a struggling rotation, you’d at least hope to get something productive out of the move.
Prior to being dealt to Boston, Cashner’s ERA sat at 3.83 and one of the most notable stats that was being forced down the throats of Red Sox fans was that he hadn’t given up a home run since the end of May. Now, when looking back at it, that was only five starts, but either way, he hadn’t given up the longball in quite some time which was something the Red Sox hoped would carry over to his new clubhouse. He’s already surrendered seven homers in his six starts including three against Kansas City who is currently ranked 28th of 30 teams in the home run count.
He’s been nothing short of poor with the Red Sox and there’s no sugar-coating it. Blame has to start landing on the starting rotation more and more as the season continues. Sure, did the Red Sox lose today’s game and did the bullpen surrender the runs that ended up costing them another win? Yes. But when you’re starting pitcher can’t last longer than 1.2 IP, it’s time to start pointing the finger elsewhere and begin focusing on poor performance after poor performance from your rotation.
Cashner’s now 1-4 in Boston and the team is 1-5 during his starts. His one strong performance actually came against the New York Yankees back on July 26th where he grabbed his sole quality start going 6.2 IP surrendering 3 ER. But his overall ERA in these six starts now sits at 8.01 after today’s early exit where he was saved by the overperforming and eye-opening relief arm, Josh Taylor. Taylor pitched his way out of a bases-loaded jam that Cashner left him in.
Cashner hasn’t panned out in any regard following the trade. Is it fair to criticize him when he was truthfully brought in to just be a decent fifth man in the rotation? Why can’t you?
He was brought in in the midst of a strong season. When you make that deal, the anticipation is that he’ll hold up those type of numbers for your club. Unfortunately for the Red Sox though, they’ve gotten poor outing after poor outing, just making the back end of their rotation as exceptionally rough as it’s been all year.
Cashner hasn’t been the guy who the team wanted in that deal. He wasn’t expected to be Chris Sale of 2017, but then again, he wasn’t expected to have these dreadful numbers either. It’s a perfect metaphor for what this entire season has been. The consensus gripe has been to fall back on the bullpen, blaming them for a majority of their issues which at times has been totally justified. But when you have a starting rotation that ranks 21st in the Majors with an ERA north of five, there’s another piece to this team that needs some serious blame. It’s asinine to let the bullpen slide though with their 20 blown saves, but let’s just all sit in agreement and say that overall, their pitching has been one giant punch to the stomach.
Following today’s 1.2 innings performance, I’m teetering on the “take” edge to say that Cashner’s deal–while it may not be a bust since you didn’t have to give up much to get him–was a waste of prospects, even if they were lower level.