After taking only one of four from the Yankees and getting four days off for the All-Star break, the Boston Red Sox (43-43, 9.5 games back) go to St. Petersburg, Florida to take on the Tampa Bay Rays (45-41, 7.5 games back) in a three-game series. The Red Sox are a disastrous 3-7 in their last 10 games, while the Rays are a pedestrian 5-5 in their last 10.
Jeremy Hellickson (facing Franklin Morales in the opener) is not having a great season but is getting away with it. “But Hellickson has a 3.41 ERA,” says your grandfather. Well tell your grandfather for me that Hellickson has a 5.41 FIP, a 4.93 xFIP, a 4.90 SIERA, a -0.3 WAR and has given up 16 homers in 87 innings pitched. Tell him that these are not good numbers to have. Also tell your grandfather that good pitchers do not give up 3.62 BB/9 while only getting 5.79 K/9. And buy him a beer for me.
David Price (against Clay Buchholz) is having a very good season, just like your grandfather said. He isn’t always wrong, you know. Grandpa likes Price’s 11 wins, 2.82 ERA and 105 strikeouts. You like Price’s 3.42 FIP, 3.28 xFIP, 3.40 SIERA, 2.84 K/BB and 2.2 WAR. And you both like pie.
James Shields (versus Josh Beckett) isn’t having the best of seasons, and your grandfather is mad. “Eight wins, sure,” says your grandfather, “but look at that 4.17 ERA! It was 2.82 last year!” But you can tell him that Shields has a 3.75 FIP, a 3.44 xFIP, a 3.45 SIERA and a .335 BABIP, so Shields may have been unlucky. “But he has a 1.42 WHIP, you whippersnapper!”, says your grandpa. At this point, just get off his lawn.
WHO’S HOT/WHO’S NOT
In the last two weeks, Ben Zobrist (.313/.393/.583, .414 wOBA, 169 wRC), Will Rhymes (.278/.350/.556, .383 wOBA, 148 wRC) and Elliot Johnson (.318/.333/.364, .328 wOBA, 110 wRC) are hitting well for the Rays. However, Luke Scott (.132/.154/.342, .210 wOBA, 29 wRC), B.J. Upton (.204/.254/.315, .259 wOBA, 63 wRC), Carlos Pena (.208/.276/.434, .310 wOBA, 98 wRC, but three homers) and Desmond Jennings (.208/.276/.377, .304 wOBA, 93wRC, two homers) are on cold streaks.
In the Rays bullpen, closer Fernando Rodney (0.93 ERA/1.90 FIP/2.58 xFIP) has been lights out. Jake McGee (1.86 ERA/2.58 FIP/3.04 xFIP) is also having a very good year. Kyle “Professor” Farnsworth (11.57 ERA/6.92 FIP/10.04 xFIP) has had a slow return from injury. But that will happen when you are 160 years old.
C Robinson Chirinos (concussion) and RF Brandon Guyer (shoulder surgery) are out for the season. LF Sam Fuld (wrist surgery) and RHP Jeff Niemann (fractured right leg) are on the 60-day DL. OF Matt Joyce (oblique, back) and 3B Evan Longoria (partially torn left hamstring) are on the 15-day DL. OF Hideki Matsui (left hamstring tightness) is day-to-day.
AND WHAT ABOUT THE RED SOX?
There is good news on the injury front. No, really. Jacoby Ellsbury will finally be coming back from the disabled list for the Rays series, and Carl Crawford is scheduled to come off the DL for Monday’s game. Will Middlebrooks is also expected to play in the Rays series. The hot hitters in the last two weeks for the Red Sox have been David Ortiz (.375/.500/.708, .496 wOBA, 217 wRC) and Adrian Gonzalez (.379/.379/.466, .366 wOBA, 127 wRC), although Gonzalez didn’t walk once in the fortnight, nor did he hit a home run. Still, Gonzalez had a good batting average. Your grandfather will like that. Pedro Ciriaco (.538/.571/.692, .578 wOBA, 273 wRC) and Mauro Gomez (.400/.429/.550, .421 wOBA, 165 wRC) have been impressive in their roles. On the cold side for the Sox are Ryan Sweeney (.111/.111/.333, .176 wOBA, -3 wRC), Daniel Nava (.132/.233/.226, .216 wOBA, 24 wRC) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.133/.188/.400, .250 wOBA, 48 wRC). And Brent Lillibridge (.091/.091/.091, .080 wOBA, -69 wRC) finally got a hit.
The only Red Sox starter who had a good fortnight is Aaron Cook (1.80 ERA/3.86 FIP/4.75 xFIP). Remember, advanced statistics hate ground ball, no strikeout pitchers like Cook. Franklin Morales (5.23 ERA/7.81 FIP/5.45 xFIP) came back to earth, and Daisuke Matsuzaka (8.10 ERA/6.81 FIP/5.10 xFIP) seems to be marking time until he is released. In the bullpen, Mark Melancon (0.00 ERA/0.88 FIP/2.27 xFIP) holds the Blutarsky ERA award for the last two weeks, while Andrew Miller (6.00 ERA/2.06 FIP/3.52 xFIP) had a run of bad luck.
The Rays pitching are keeping them in the race for the AL East and the Wild Card. However, your grandfather says that if they don’t start hitting better, and soon, they could start falling behind. And your grandfather knows, because he saw Joe DiMaggio play.