Not only are we going to have Josh Beckett miss a start this weekend, but no one is sure if it will only be a single start missed. His absence is tied directly to his last pitch count and is shoulder related. All things are not a good sign as it wasn’t a one time thing in this young season. Valentine has repeatedly allowed his pitchers to top 100 pitches and often reach 110 or 120.
Just yesterday Chip took a look at this in regards to Valentine having a slow hook and letting his pitchers tire to much going to these higher pitch counts and often having their worst inning in their last inning. The ERA in the sixth inning this season is 5.09 and 5.87 in the seventh inning.
I have to say I think this might be a bit of small sample size effect though as the staff K/BB in the sixth is 4.00, which would be the level for an elite pitcher. That’s not to say that Valentine hasn’t left pitchers in to long, but overall the staff has done well in the sixth inning. Starters have even been pitching well the third time they face hitters. The starters have a 4.57 K/BB when they face a hitter for the third time.
The stats of course will average things out and miss what we have all seen in a sampling of games where a pitcher has clearly lost his stuff, velocity and/or control. The sad fact is this is the case with a rotation holding two very young pitchers making a transition to the full time starting job.
I’m sure the hook would be better if Valentine had more trust in his bullpen, but until that happens I’m sure we’ll see a few more frustrating innings where the starter is left in again. Until the Red Sox can make some changes in the bullpen and perhaps find a way to get Aceves back into the rotation as an option in the sixth, seventh or eith innings instead of closing I don’t know who the Red Sox can look at for consistency right now.
If we only had to worry about tough losses or innings that make you cringe I think we could live with that and say hey the bullpen is not good enough, but with one pitcher down and several high risk arms in the rotation it’s tough to defend Bobby on this one. Clay Buchholz is just returning after a lost season last year and Daniel Bard is still stretching out for the first time.
I’ve made light of Bobby Valentine being fired this season, but I honestly think that getting two to three starters injured by direct link to overuse could be a honest way Valentine is shown the door from Boston. It’s no fun watching relievers throw games away, but the front office needs these starters to remain healthy for the long term interests of the club. Something a short term manager is surely less concerned about.