After sweeping Jose Altuve (because, let’s face it, he was the only Astros player worth a damn), the Boston Red Sox (18-7, 3 game lead in the AL East) fly north of the border to take on the Toronto Blue Jays (9-17, 9.5 games behind in the AL East) in a three-game series. The Red Sox have the best record in baseball, winning their last five games in a row and 7 of their last 10. The off-season champion Blue Jays have lost their last four games and have won only 2 of their last 10 games. The series sweep of the Astros brought the total number of Red Sox sweeps in 2013 to three, which was the exact same number of sweeps the Red Sox had in the entire 2012 season. How about that!?!
Brandon Morrow (against Jon Lester) had a good season in 2012 (2.96 ERA/3.65 FIP/4.03 xFIP, minus line of 72 ERA-/87 FIP-/98 xFIP-) but he was a candidate for regression. Morrow’s 2012 BABIP was .252, which could indicate that he was extremely lucky that his opponents hit them where they were. In 2013 Morrow’s BABIP has risen to .313 (slightly unlucky), which is partially the cause for his early season woes (5.27 ERA/4.60 FIP/4.98 xFIP). Also of note, Morrow’s strikeout rate has dropped from 7.80 per nine innings in 2012 to 6.26 per nine in 2013.
Mark Buehrle (versus Clay Buchholz) is having the worst statistical season of his career. A career 3.85 ERA/4.15 FIP/4.22 xFIP pitcher, Buehrle’s first five starts in 2013 has garnered a pitching line of 6.35 ERA/5.36 FIP/4.36 xFIP. Like Morrow, Buehrle was another candidate for regression via BABIP: Buehrle’s 2012 BAIP with the Marlins was .270 and this year it is .323. Also, Buehrle has already surrendered six homers in five starts. Buehrle’s 2013 SIERA is 4.33, so there is still time for him to be the solid starter he usually is. Always a pitcher to work quickly, Buehrle is working more slowly than ever, as his pace mark of 18.0 seconds between pitches is the highest he’s had since 2007 (when the pace stat first was compiled).
Josh Johnson (facing Ryan Dempster) is not having much luck at all in the American League. His strikeout rate has gone up (7.76 in 2012, 8.69 in 2013) but his walk rate (3.06 in 2012, 4.13 in 2013) and BABIP (.302 in 2012, .379 in 2013) have also risen. Johnson’s ground ball rate of 41.8% is the lowest since his cup of coffee with the Marlins in his 2005 rookie season. All of this adds up to a pitching line of 6.86 ERA/4.57 FIP/4.27 xFIP. This was not what the Blue Jays had in mind when they acquired him.
WHO’S HOT/WHO’S NOT
In the last two weeks, the only really hot hitter for the Blue Jays has been Adam Lind (.417/.650/.417, .487 wOBA, 214 wRC), but honorable mention has to go to Edwin Encarnacion (.271/.340/.583, .396 wOBA, 152 wRC, 5 homers), Jose Bautista (.184/.279/.553, .354 wOBA, 124 wRC, 4 homers) and J.P. Arencibia (.234/.250/.532, .334 wOBA, 110 wRC, 4 homers). On the flip side, Brett Lawrie (.213/.269/.362, .278 wOBA, 71 wRC), Colby Rasmus (.225/.262/.350, .270 wOBA, 66 wRC), Munenori Kawasaki (.212/.289/.242, .247 wOBA, 50 wRC), Melky Cabrera (.222/.250/.278, .234 wOBA, 42 wRC), Emilio Bonifacio (.111/.238/.167, .202 wOBA, 20 wRC) and Maicer Izturis (.200/.217/.222, .197 wOBA, 16 wRC) have been as cold as an Ottawa winter.
In the bullpen in the last fortnight, closer Casey Janssen (0.00 ERA/0.99 FIP/1.91 xFIP, .000 BABIP) has pitched well in the few opportunities he’s had. Brett Cecil (2.35 ERA/4.03 FIP/3.60 xFIP, .211 BABIP) and Steve Delabar (2.45 ERA/3.26 FIP/4.02 xFIP, .231 BABIP) pitched slightly worse than their respective ERAs would indicate, while Esmil Rogers (4.50 ERA/2.32 FIP/3.71 xFIP, .313 BABIP) was better than his ERA. But Aaron Loup (1.80 ERA/4.99 FIP/6.65 xFIP, .318 BABIP) and Darren Oliver (1.59 ERA/5.11 FIP/4.52 xFIP, .167 BABIP) got away with statistical murder.
RHP Kyle Drabek (recovery from June 2012 Tommy John surgery, placed on the 60-day DL on February 25), RHP Drew Hutchison (recovery from August 2012 Tommy John surgery, placed on the 60-day DL on March 22), RHP Dustin McGowan (right shoulder, placed on the 15-day DL on March 31, transferred to the 60-day DL on April 7), LHP Luis Perez (recovery from July 2012 Tommy John surgery, placed on the 60-day DL on February 23), SS Jose Reyes (sprained left ankle, placed on the 15-day DL on April 13), RHP Sergio Santos (soreness in right triceps, placed on the 15-day DL on April 16, retroactive to April 14) 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?
Man, is Big Papi (.516/.529/.871, .584 wOBA, 277 wRC) on a tear. Every time he gets up to bat I think something good is going to happen. At least he is finding solace on the baseball field from his personal troubles. Also hitting very well in the last two weeks are Mike Carp (.500/.545/.950, .618 wOBA, 300 wRC), Mike Napoli (.340/.421/.680, .465 wOBA, 195 wRC) and Dustin Pedroia (.347/.458/.429, .393 wOBA, 146 wRC), although Dustin needs to get off the schneid with respect to home runs. However, Jonny Gomes (.200/.333/.250, .278 wOBA, 68 wRC), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.216/.256/.351, .267 wOBA, 61 wRC), Stephen Drew (.156/.270/.281, .252 wOBA, 50 wRC) and Will Middlebrooks (.188/.220/.354, .250 wOBA, 49 wRC) haven’t hit well in the last two weeks, although WMB seemed to break out of his slump in the Astros series.
In the bullpen, Alex Wilson (0.00 ERA/2.99 FIP/4.10 xFIP, .267 BABIP) retains the Blutarsky ERA Award with a smoke-and-mirrors act, while Andrew Bailey (1.29 ERA/2.56 FIP/2.68 xFIP, .167 BABIP) and Junichi Tazawa (1.59 ERA/0.70 FIP/2.16 xFIP, .250 BABIP) also pitched very well in the last two weeks. Andrew Miller (5.40 ERA/2.09 FIP/2.51 xFIP, .429 BABIP) and Clayton Mortensen (7.20 ERA/3.39 FIP/4.50 xFIP, .267 BABIP) havent’t pitched well but not nearly as badly as their ERAs would indicate.
The Blue Jays won the off-season. They are not winning the regular season.