The mark of a very good baseball team is resilience. In other words, the ability to withstand injuries, weather the storm that is an elongated losing streak, and understand what your job is night in and night out regardless of the circumstances. The 2013 Boston Red Sox have done this as well as possible in 2013.

They have endured in no particular order the following hardships:

  • The closer conundrum of 2013.
  • Shane Victorino’s nagging hamstring and back injuries.
  • Will Middlebrooks’s wretched slump and DL stint due to an apparent rib injury. The latter could also be known as “I’m on the DL so that I can take 15 days to work on my swing in the batting cage.” Maybe the Braves should try this technique with BJ Upton.
  • The fact that Dustin Pedroia is playing through a torn UCL in his hand. Although it may be affecting his power numbers, he is still hitting a silly .336 with a .415!! OBP, 37 R, 30 RBI, and 8 SB. Appreciate the Laser Show now folks… It is quite amazing.
  • Stephen Drew and David Ortiz’s absences for a few weeks at the beginning of the season.
  • The circus that was Jackie Bradley Jr. (no fault of his) at the beginning of the year.
  • The left field platoon that resulted after Bradley’s lackluster start, which has since become a non-issue because of Daniel Nava’s emergence.
  • The Felix Doubront maddening-walk-fest-bullpen-back-to-rotation saga.
  • Finally, Clay Buchholz’s current daddy issue.

Now, we all know injuries and poor play are a part of a baseball season, but that is a lot of curveballs thrown the Red Sox way. Nevertheless they have responded by playing great baseball and currently find themselves a game in front of the AL East for first place. 

3 Up 3 Down

John Lackey

Lackey locating the fastball (ESPN)

Lackey locating the fastball (ESPN)

No, Lackey will never be the top of the rotation starter the Red Sox thought they were getting three years ago. But he has become a reliable middle of the rotation starter who has consistently pitched well.

He has an ERA of 2.96, is striking out a batter per inning, and has a 1.18 WHIP. If I had told you this before the season started you may have called me insane. Well, I did tell you that back in February but I’m not here to tell you I was right. Well… I was right. However, it seems as though Lackey will *knock on wood* shatter my preseason projections: 27 Starts, 13 Wins, 4.20 ERA, 60% Quality Starts, and a 6.9 SO/9.

Observe the heat map, which shows Lackey’s fastball locations. He is absolutely pounding the lower third of the strike zone with consistency. That leads to more ground balls and more outs. If he keeps that up we can expect him to keep his ERA below 4.

Jacoby Ellsbury

After enduring a slump nearly on par with Middlebrooks (Farrell considered benching or dropping Ells down in the lineup), Ellsbury finally emerged from the doldrums at the perfect time when he delivered the game winning double against the Cleveland Indians last Sunday.

Including Sunday, Ellsbury now has 11 hits in his last 5 games to go along with 4 runs, 4 RBI, and 7!! SB. Tacoby Bellsbury now leads the majors with 21 steals, and is on pace for over 60. That is the Ellsbury that the Red Sox need on a consistent basis in order to keep winning games.

Dustin Pedroia

See above. The guy is a monster. A Torn thumb UCL is supposed to take 8 weeks to recover from.

When John Henry found out Pedroia torn his UCL during the first game of the season in Yankee Stadium he was “distraught” and said, “It would have taken the heart and soul out of the Red Sox from day 1.” That is an understatement, John.

Instead, Pedroia tapes it up, rubs some dirt on it, and continues to hit lasers on a daily basis. Relax.

3 Down

Photo by Kelly O'Connor of sittingstill.net

Photo by Kelly O’Connor of sittingstill.net

Shane Victorino

When healthy Victorino has been a leader, a spark, and a very good baseball player. He is not the 4th OF or platoon player that Keith Law called him before the season started. I disagreed with Law and wrote that Victorino was a victim of bad situations over the past year and a half, and was due for a bounce back season. Well, he has done that and more when healthy hitting .283 with a .343 OBP and playing well above average defense.

Yet there is the key: when healthy (sorry for the battology). Whether it has been the hammy or the back, Vic has not been able to stay on the field this year. Until he does he can’t be considered an “Up” for this team.

FWIW: I enjoy reading Keith Law as much as the next guy, but remember that he also called the BJ Upton signing a “win” and a “solid return” for $75 million over 5 years? So, yeah, even the insiders aren’t always right.

Pedro Ciriaco

I think the Ciriaco utility experiment has run its course. While Ciriaco shows flashes of solid play, the guy is a liability in the field and occasionally on the base paths.

I wouldn’t be upset if he was sent down to the Minors when WMB returns and Iglesias is kept as the utility guy.

Ryan Dempster

Fire Brand’s Jack Keller summed it up best in his monthly Red Sox Power Rankings when he said: “He has surrendered a team-leading 10 HR, has an ERA of 4.45, a WHIP of 1.388, and posted a WAR of 0.2 in 11 starts. Dempster has been a mediocre starter with a lot of strikeouts (10.8 SO/9), and that’s about it. For an alleged “Innings Eater” he’s not even averaging 6 innings per start and has yet to complete more than 7 innings in any outing.”

In short, Dempster has to be better. He knows it, Farrell knows it, and Red Sox Nation knows it. Come playoff time the Sox are going to need that reliable 3rd or 4th starter in order to advance past the Wild Card round. Let the competition for #3 begin now between Lackey and Dempster.

Tweets of the Week

A new and entertaining section of 3 Up 3 Down will now be tweets of the week. They will be tweets by Red Sox players, writers, or anyone else related to the Red Sox. Then maybe one or two non-Red Sox related tweets. Should be fun. This week will only be tweets from the past few days, but next week will be tweets from the week.

1. @alexspeier (Red Sox beat writer): Ellsbury questionable for tomorrow. Iglesias wrapped in ice, and eating an ice cream bar, evidently fine and expected to play Sat.

I guess I found this funny since Iglesias was eating an ice cream bar after the game while wrapped in ice. Who does that? Ice bags are cold enough.

2. @anthony_ranaudo (Sox pitching prospect who currently resides with the Portland Sea Dogs): Warm weather…….sundresses. What an art. A little slice of heaven.

Couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s a rare point in the year when women in Maine can break out the sundresses.

3. @bbrentz7 (Sox OF prospect who shot himself in the leg this offseason. Was supposed to compete for an OF spot): Thank you @EvoShield for the gear #EvoArmy #EvoFitte 

Bryce Brentz's EvoShield collection

Insert your “too bad the EvoShield couldn’t protect you from your gun” joke here.

Bonus Non-Baseball Tweet: @Sportscenter: LeBron’s flopping fine: $5,000 LeBron’s earnings per in-game MINUTE this season: $4,458 (via @darrenrovell)

No skin off Lebron’s back.

Go Sox!

Categories: 2013 Boston Red Sox Clay Buchholz Daniel Nava David Ortiz Dustin Pedroia Felix Doubront Jackie Bradley Jr. Jacoby Ellsbury John Lackey Pedro Ciriaco Ryan Dempster Shane Victorino Stephen Drew Will Middlebrooks

I'm a 2011 college graduate from Sewanee: The University of the South where I played Division III baseball for four years. I have lived in Atlanta, Georgia for my entire life, but, thankfully, was raised a Sox, Pats, and Celtics fan. I now live in Nasvhille, TN where I am attending Vanderbilt as a graduate student. As my friends and family can attest, I have obsessed over sports for the duration of my life so I am justifiably excited to write about my favorite team. The highlight of my childhood was when John Smoltz delivered a Pizza Hut pizza to my house when I was 10. Follow @joe_t_reilly

5 Responses to “3 Up 3 Down Grabs First Place” Subscribe

  1. JoeG June 2, 2013 at 12:21 AM #

    The Buchholz link goes to Doubront's page. Love the article though!

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