After earning a series win in the Bronx, the Boston Red Sox (2-1, tied for first in the AL East) go to the Great White North to take on the new-look Toronto Blue Jays (1-2, tied for third in the AL East). In Toronto, you definitely can’t tell your players without a scorecard after the big trade with the Miami Marlins. What can the Sox do this weekend against the darling of the prognosticators?
Josh Johnson (against Felix Doubront in the opener), one of the players who came to Toronto form the Marlins, in many ways had his worst season as a major leaguer in 2012 (if you ignore his injury-plagued 2007 season). Johnson’s line of 3.81 ERA/3.40 FIP/3.73 xFIP in 2012 was much worse than his 2010 season (his last healthy season), when he put up numbers of 2.30 ERA/2.41 FIP/3.02 xFIP. It was a surprise that with as many pitching injuries as the Blue Jays suffered last season that they would trade for Johnson, whose picture is next to “injured pitcher” in the dictionary. But if the Blue Jays get the 2010 Johnson, that will go a long way toward putting the Jays into the playoff picture.
J.A. Happ (versus John Lackey) has returned to earth since his breakout 2009 season with the Phillies, and a close look at his numbers could have predicted it. In 2009, Happ posted a 2.93 ERA matched with a 4.33 FIP and a 4.43 xFIP, but had a .266 BABIP with 6.45 K/9, 3.04 BB/9, a 38.4 % ground ball rate with an average 9.5 % homers to fly ball ratio, and stranded 85.2 % of baserunners. So this was a fly ball pitcher (in Philly, no less) who walked too many batters but didn’t give up too many runs or home runs? That, my friends, is a LOT of luck. Compare this to 2012, when (with Houston and Toronto), Happ posted numbers of 4.79 ERA/4.01 FIP/3.92 xFIP, 8.96 K/9, 3.48 BB/9, .315 BABIP, 70.6 % strand rate, 44.0 % ground ball rate, and 11.9 % homers to fly ball ratio. Happ’s .315 BABIP in 2012 shows a bit of bad luck, but when the worm turned for Happ, it turned 180 degrees.
R.A. Dickey (facing Jon Lester in the finale), the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner, is (of course) coming off a career year. In 2012, Dickey had career lows in ERA (.273), FIP (3.27) and xFIP (3.27). Most notably, Dickey struck out a career-high of 8.86 batters per nine innings and walked a career-low 2.08 batters per nine. Dickey’s .275 BABIP is a little lucky for most pitchers but it wasn’t overly lucky compared to his recent seasons with the Mets. Of course, the question for 2013 is whether Dickey can maintain these stellar statistics in his return to the American League.
WHO’S HOT/WHO’S NOT
Yes it’s early and thus it’s a small sample size, but J.P. Arencibia (.364/.417/1.000, .598 wOBA, 301 wRC) and Jose Bautista (.250/.357/.750, .469 wOBA, 213 wRC) had a nice opening series, while Colby Rasmus (.091/.167/.364, .237 wOBA, 54 wRC), Melky Cabrera (.167/.286/.167, .221 wOBA, 43 wRC) and Adam Lind (.000/.083/.000, .056 wOBA, -70 wRC) are off to slow starts.
In the Jays bullpen, Casey Janssen (0.00 ERA/-0.24 FIP/-0.24 xFIP, .250 BABIP) and Esmil Rogers (0.00 ERA/1.26 FIP/2.35 xFIP, .250 BABIP) have looked good, but Darren Oliver (4.50 ERA/5.76 FIP/7.95 xFIP, .400 BABIP) and closer Sergio Santos (5.40 ERA/6.96 FIP/0.91 xFIP, .333 BABIP) are a bit cold.
RHP Kyle Drabek (recovery from June 2012 Tommy John surgery, placed on 60-day DL on March 15), RHP Drew Hutchison (recovery from August 2012 Tommy John surgery, placed on 60-day DL on March 22), 3B Brett Lawrie (strained left oblique muscle, placed on 15-day DL on April 2), RHP Dustin McGowan (sore right shoulder, placed on 15-day DL on March 31, retroactive to March 27), LHP Luis Perez (recovery from July 2012 Tommy John surgery, placed on 60-day DL on February 23) and RHP Michael Schwimer (strained right shoulder, placed on 15-day DL on March 31, retroactive to March 22).
AND WHAT ABOUT THE RED SOX?
If you had Jose Iglesias (.583/.583/.667, .546 wOBA, 262 wRC) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.429/.600/.571, .505 wOBA, 234 wRC) in your “Hot Red Sox in the first series” pool, you win! And if you didn’t have Will Middlebrooks (.167/.286/.167, .221 wOBA, 39 wRC) and Mike Napoli (.143/.143/.143, .126 wOBA, -26 wRC) in your “Cold Red Sox in the first series” pool, you lose!
In the Sox bullpen, Koji Uehara (0.00 ERA/2.76 FIP/7.13, .000 BABIP), Andrew Bailey (0.00 ERA/-3.24 FIP/-3.24 xFIP, .000 BABIP), Joel Hanrahan (0.00 ERA/1.76 FIP/3.95 xFIP, .167 BABIP) and Junichi Tazawa (0.00 ERA/2.76 FIP/4.22 xFIP, .333 BABIP) shared the Blutarsky ERA Award (given to relievers with a 0.00 ERA in a selected period), while Andrew Miller (9.00 ERA/7.76 FIP/7.76 xFIP, .000 BABIP) and Alfredo Aceves (27.00 ERA/22.26 FIP/2.76 xFIP, .333 BABIP) stole the wrong &%^*#%^ exam.
This is the first big test for the 2013 Red Sox. If they can leave Canada with a series win it could be a harbinger of a good start to the season. If they lose the series, well it’s a marathon, not a sprint. (See what I did there?)