The Red Sox have fallen flat on their faces right out of the gate. There’s no way around it. The gun fired, the other teams flew off of the starting line, and the Red Sox tripped themselves right into embarrassment. This 1-5 start might be the death of some fans who are putting in the grueling hours of staying up to watch these West Coast road trip games that the Red Sox were–to my dismay–given to start the season. It feels like I’ve been awake for about a week now as I try to watch until at least the sixth inning every night.
Regardless, the Red Sox have put themselves in the position of being regarded right there as one of the worst teams in baseball–when you’re talking about records. And despite being shutout during the first two games in Oakland, there is one glaring issue that’s at the forefront of it all. The Red Sox highly regarded starting pitching staff, for lack of a better term, has crapped the bed to kick the season off.
The offense showed up to the ballpark in Seattle and gave the team ample opportunities to win each night. When you’re losing games 10-8, something’s got to change.
The entire starting pitching staff decided to make things much more difficult for the offense. And that includes the newly extended Chris Sale who surrendered seven runs to kick the season off last Thursday. The best pitching performance came from David Price in the series opener against the Oakland A’s where he lasted 6.0 innings and allowed four earned runs.
But despite all of the poor performances and the Red Sox inability to muster up any semblance of offense against the Oakland A’s while Chris Sale seemed to bounce back–still with a low velocity on his fastball–it’s not time to start worrying about the 2019 Boston Red Sox… yet…
I feel like we’ve had this conversation before when discussing another 2019 Boston team, right? This team is way too talented to be playing this poor. The only difference is, things are going to turn out much different for this Red Sox team.
The Red Sox have made it quite clear about how they’re going to go about managing the starting rotation to start the season. We watched it happen at the start of 2018 during manager Alex Cora’s first year with the organization. This is the time to manage the pitch count and hold off on some of your best stuff. I.e., Chris Sale throwing fastballs up and in to batters being clocked in at 89 MPH. Does that make me nervous? Sure it does. Even if he’s holding things back to start, Sale should be at about 93 MPH. But regardless, the Red Sox philosophy to start the season has been quite clear. Take it easy to kick things off, and as the season rolls on and the summer grows exponentially warmer, crank things up a bit.
Pitching coach Dana LeVangie even seemed to show some frustration with the media following last night’s game against Oakland when discussing Sale’s downward trend in velocity. LeVangie even went as far as rhetorically asking if the media would like Sale to pitch for the entire season.
With the looks of this strong rotation and the success that each pitcher has had in not only the past, but recent history, my level of worry for the starting rotation is at about a 13%. However, if this trend continues towards the end of April, there might be more smoke to the fire than what I’m anticipating there to be at this current moment.
The bullpen itself is a different story. But it’s no secret that they’re seen as the clearcut, most feeble part of the team. But with the ceiling of this pitching staff that could end up shaping up as one of the best in baseball, they’ll act as a pretty nice bandaid over that generally exposed part of the club.
And what about the offense? Last I checked, they were one of the most feared in baseball and with the addition of Dustin Pedroia being inserted back into the lineup, they only improved over the offseason.
In 2018, the Red Sox led the league in batting average at .268, in RBIs with 829 and in total runs scored with 876. They were dominant in every facet of the game offensively and how could you see that decreasing this season to the point where it might be considered a major problem?
Within their entire 2018 returning lineup comes the American League MVP, multiple Silver Slugger Award winners, one of the league’s most formidable home run hitters and the World Series MVP. And surrounding all of that? A plethora of young, raw talent that is only waiting to break out. For example, third baseman Rafael Devers who has clearly won the confidence of manager Alex Cora with his movement toward the top of the lineup along with his new, slimmer physique.
The offensive prowess that this team possesses has already been put on display to start the season as previously mentioned. The one thing that has been lacking severely has been their potentially dominating starting rotation. And do we really think that they’ll be this poor as the season drags on?
We’ve seen what each of these arms are capable of doing. Sure, you could say that some of them have been streaky during their time here with Boston. But nonetheless, this pitching staff is too talented to continue to perform the way that they have.
With a potentially dominating starting rotation coupled with an offense that is already showing their pop, it’s not time to worry about the 2019 Boston Red Sox yet. However, the World Series hangover is something to be cautious of. Without a doubt in my mind, this team will be one of the top two in the AL East when it’s all said and done and will again claim the title as one of the best in baseball as May approaches.