Following last night’s 7-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, our beloved Red Sox have fallen to 1-4 on the season. After last season’s woeful 2-10 start and brutal 7-21 finish, it’s safe to say that many of us were hoping for quicker, more positive start to the season. Luckily, we’re only five games into a 162 game season, so a lot will hopefully change over the next several months. In the interim, I thought I’d take a look at the Red Sox from a “good, bad, and ugly” point of view. Please note: all small sample rules apply.
Dustin Pedroia – Few players on the Red Sox have gotten their season started off better than Pedroia. To date, he’s produced a .364/.417/.636 line featuring one home run and three doubles. While it’s far too early to determine if his 2012 season will bypass his 2011 season in terms of value, it looks as if this will be another typical All-Star caliber season from the pint sized second baseman.
Jon Lester – The ace lefty got his season off to a good start on Opening Day hurling seven innings of six-hit ball, while matching Justin Verlander pitch-for-pitch. For a pitcher known for his April struggles, this was a very welcome development. His performance wasn’t perfect though. He walked three, allowed too many fly balls, and only struck out four. Still, despite not having his best stuff, he found a way to grind through it, and put his team in the best position to win.
Ryan Sweeney – With Carl Crawford out for the first month or so of the season, Sweeney is getting a chance to show what he can do if he’s given regular playing time. So far, he’s kicking ass and taking names. Through five games, he’s hitting .444/.500/.667 with two doubles and a triple. While he won’t keep this pace up all season long, he’s clearly outplaying his eventual platoon partner, Cody Ross, by leaps and bounds. Oh, and did I mention Sweeney’s a beast defensively? I don’t want to put the cart before the horse because it’s still early, but I’m starting to develop a major man crush on this guy.
Cody Ross – In Spring Training, Ross looked like a man on a mission producing an eye popping .370/.431/.826 line with six home runs and three doubles. Sadly, his spring success hasn’t immediately translated into regular season success. To be fair, this isn’t terribly uncommon. While he’s certainly not as good of a player as his spring line would indicate, he’s also not as bad as his first five regular season games would indicate. He should start to right the ship once he starts facing a few more lefties. Ideally, I’d like to see in a platoon with Sweeney where he faces as few righties as possible.
Daniel Bard – To be perfectly honest, Bard was a lot better than his stat line would indicate. For starters, with all of the concern about Bard’s control as a starter, throwing up a 6/1 K/BB ratio in his first start helps quell a few fears. Secondly, he registered 17 whiffs over 99 pitches; eight with the four-seamer and nine with the slider. Not surprisingly, his velocity was down from last season, but not to a point where it’s a concern. Where Bard struggled was on balls in play. He gave up eight hits, all but one on singles. Was it poor luck? Some of it seemed to be, but some was likely poor location or pitch selection. Both should improve over time as Bard becomes more comfortable in his new role.
The Oh Dear God!
Kevin Youkilis – Prior to last night’s game, Youkilis started out the season 0-for-12 with no walks. This wasn’t how he wanted to get the ball rolling this season, to say the least. Luckily, he went 2-for-4 with a double last night, so that’s definitely a step in the right direction. Hopefully, this gets him back on track.
Josh Beckett – Five…home…runs. Yikes! For someone that’s fallen under much criticism in the aftermath of the so-called chicken and beer scandal, I feel as if this worst way for Beckett to start out the season. Luckily, he was on the road, so at least he wasn’t serenaded with a chorus of boos from the home crowd. While his homer happy tendencies on Friday are a bit of a concern, I’m not going to make too much out of it. Last season, Clay Buchholz gave up four home runs in his first start, and then allowed only six over his final 76-1/3 innings.
Clay Buchholz – Speaking of Buchholz, he looked terrible in his first start of the season on Saturday allowing seven runs on eight hits over four innings. With the backend of the rotation filled with question marks, Clay becomes the most important member of the rotation. If the Red Sox are going to make the playoffs this season, they need him to be healthy and productive. Let’s not make too much out of one bad start though. He struggled in April last season before turning it around in May and June. Let’s hope he starts that turnaround a little bit sooner this year.
Mark Melancon and Alfredo Aceves – I’m lumping these too together because they’ve been absolutely brutal so far. I don’t expect this to continue, but a combined 31.50 ERA and 4.50 WHIP in two innings (five appearances) doesn’t exactly give me the warm fuzzies; especially with Andrew Bailey out of action indefinitely.