After being swept by the Angels, the Boston Red Sox (59-66, 13.5 games back in the AL East) lick their wounds and welcome the Kansas City Royals (55-68, 13 games back in the AL Central) to Fenway Park for a four-game series. The Red Sox have lost four in a row and are 3-7 in their last 10 games. The Royals’ current losing streak stands at one but they are 6-4 in their last 10 games.
Bruce Chen (versus Jon Lester in Friday night’s opener) has turned back into Bruce Chen. The favorite pitcher of Not Buster Olney on Twitter (@TrippingOlney), Chen had a decent start to the season, with an FIP in the high 3 range and an xFIP in the mid 4 range. However, in July Chen posted a pitching triple slash line of 8.31 ERA/6.59 FIP/4.39 xFIP and in August he’s posted a 5.23 ERA/5.32 FIP/5.15 xFIP line. Numbers like that will make any Royals fan need to party with @TrippingOlney.
Jeremy Guthrie (against Josh Beckett) has actually pitched well since being traded to the Royals in July for Jonathan Sanchez. The Royals made a good trade? Go figure. After getting shelled at Seattle on July 27th, Guthrie has posted four quality starts in a row. Guthrie has posted a pitching triple slash line of 3.23 ERA/3.20 FIP/3.86 xFIP in Kansas City, after having recorded a 6.35 ERA/6.37 FIP/5.19 xFIP line in Colorado. Quite the turnaround for Guthrie.
Will Smith (facing Felix Doubront) has found the going rough in his rookie season with the Royals. In 10 starts in the majors, Smith’s line is an ugly 5.40 ERA/4.93 FIP/4.50 xFIP. A closer look at Smith’s numbers shows a .276 batting average against, a 1.42 WHIP, and a 14.3% home run to fly ball ratio. At least Smith’s xFIP of 4.50 shows that he had a touch of bad luck in a couple of the nine homers he’s surrendered in his 56.2 innings pitched. Maybe a trade to Bel Air would help him.
Luke Hochevar (versus TBA on Monday afternoon’s finale) has not fulfilled the promise of being the #1 pick in the 2006 draft, and it looks like there’s no one to blame but the Royals. After four good starts in single A ball in 2006, The Royals promoted Hochevar to AA in 2007. Hochevar posted a 4.69 ERA/4.02 FIP with very good 3.62 K/BB, the Royals promoted him to AAA, where he recorded a 5.12 ERA/5.39 FIP and a 2.10 K/BB. So the Royals, being the Royals, rewarded Hochevar with a call up to the majors. Since hitting the majors, Hochevar as recorded an overall 5.22 ERA/4.40 FIP/4.27 xFIP. The Royals rushed Hochevar to the majors and thereby ruined him.
WHO’S HOT/WHO’S NOT
In the last two weeks, the hot (well, let’s call them warm-ish) hitters for the Royals have been Salvador Perez (.263/.300/.553, .360 wOBA, 127 wRC), Eric Hosmer (.294/.368/.412, .357 wOBA, 125 wRC), Alcides Escobar (.333/.360/.417, .353 wOBA, 122 wRC) and Billy Butler (.302/.367/.442, .338 wOBA, 112 wRC). The cold hitters for the Royals in the last two weeks have been Lorenzo Cain (.211/.250/.316, .255 wOBA, 55 wRC), Mike Moustakas (.167/.255/.310, .244 wOBA, 48 wRC) and Jeff Francoeur (.194/.326/.250, .235 wOBA, 42 wRC). What’s this? Francoeur’s OBP is .132 higher than his batting average? Frenchy is taking walks? A 16.3% walk rate over the past two weeks? The Mayans were right! PANIC!!!
LHP Danny Duffy (recovery from June 2012 Tommy John surgery), 2B Chris Getz (fractured left thumb), RHP Felipe Paulino (recovery from July 2012 Tommy John surgery), RHP Joakim Soria (recovery from April 2012 Tommy John surgery) and RHP Blake Wood (recovery from May 2012 Tommy John surgery) are out for the season.
AND WHAT ABOUT THE RED SOX?
I should stop saying that things can’t get any worse for the Red Sox. Every time I say it, they find a way to make things worse. From Funeralgate to a possible megatrade with the Dodgers to Bobby V getting annoyed about the simple question of who is pitching against the Royals, the Red Sox are a dysfunctional family airing out their grievances at a public gathering. Cringeworthy.
And now, the numbers. The hot hitters for the BoSox over the last two weeks were Dustin Pedroia (.353/.400/.608, .441 wOBA, 179), Pedro Ciriaco (.351/.368/.432, .361 wOBA, 124 wRC) and Scott Podsednik (.353/.389/.412, .345 wOBA, 113 wRC). Adrian Gonzalez (.204/.245/.449, .284 wOBA, 71 wRC) has cooled off, and he’s joined by Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.194/.265/.290, .250 wOBA, 48 wRC) and Ryan Lavarnway (.167/.200/.208, .183 wOBA, 2 wRC).
As for the Sox starters, Jon Lester (1.38 ERA/2.56 FIP/2.24 xFIP) continues his stellar run but Clay Buchholz (4.43 ERA/4.08 FIP/3.78 xFIP) hit a bump in the road after getting shelled by the Angels. I don’t want to talk about the rest of the starters. My blood pressure couldn’t take it.
In the bullpen, Junichi Tazawa (0.00 ERA/1.69 FIP/2.98 xFIP), Andrew Miller (0.00 ERA/2.10 FIP/3.08 xFIP) and Vicente Padilla (0.00 ERA/2.67 FIP/3.93 xFIP) share the Blutarsky ERA Award for the last fortnight. Mark Melancon (2.70 ERA/4.00 FIP/2.93 xFIP) seems to have found a certain measure of success, which was quite overdue. Craig Breslow (2.45 ERA/1.73 FIP/2.13 xFIP) has pitched very well since arriving at the trade deadline, which makes you wonder why Bobby V didn’t call on him to face two lefties in the 10th last night. And solely to the shelling he took in the Angels’ finale, Alfredo Aceves‘s numbers (9.00 ERA/7.10 FIP/3.95 xFIP) look terrible.
The Royals stink. The Red Sox stink. Great series.