Don’t look now, but the Red Sox are no longer dead last in the MLB in combined starting pitching ERA. Thanks to a recent string of quality starts by Boston’s hurlers, the team seems like they are finally getting the results they planned on when rebuilding the rotation this past winter.
Over the past two weeks, Red Sox’ starters hold a 4.40 ERA, and continued to improve upon that number over this past week by posting a 3.38 ERA. Rick Porcello, Boston’s number two starter, has pitched more like the team’s number one thus far this year. Porcello has emerged victorious in his last five trips to the hill, and holds a 2.84 ERA during that time.
Clay Buchholz, the veteran-most pitcher on the staff, has also looked encouraging recently. In his latest start against the Seattle Mariners, the 31-year old tossed his best outing of the young season; collecting eleven punchouts over 8 innings of work. This start directly followed a 6.1 inning, 3 earned run effort against the Blue Jays on May 10th. It seems as though Buchholz is starting to shrink the gap between his 4.93 ERA and his 2.91 FIP.
Even Wade Miley, who at times has looked like batting practice this season, is starting to come around. Earlier this month against the New York Yankees, Miley tossed 7 full innings for the first time this season, while allowing just 3 runs. Over his last 3 turns through the rotation, Miley has averaged 6 innings per start and has crafted a 3.20 ERA.
The Red Sox are still waiting on Joe Kelly to turn the corner in the rotation. Despite the 26-year old’s incredible stuff, which includes one of the league’s fastest fastballs on average, Kelly has yet to show any consistency in the rotation. While his latest start of 6.1 of 1 run baseball was refreshing to see from the righty, he has allowed 5 or more runs in 4 of 7 starts this season. Some consider Kelly to have the best pitching arsenal out of all the Red Sox starters, but at some point Boston will need Kelly to start showing consistency.
Aside from Kelly, the other question mark for the Red Sox rotation lies in the rotation spot formally occupied by Justin Masterson.
During his second tenure with the Red Sox, Masterson has shown little-to-no reason to remain in the rotation. Unlike some of his rotation-mates, there is no peripheral statistics on Masterson to suggest bad luck or predict improved performance. Instead, Masterson’s 6.37 ERA and 5.30 FIP paint a pretty clear picture of what the 30-year old has been able to do so far this season. To add to that, Masterson has featured declining velocity, and a rotation leading 18.4 walk percentage.
The future of the 2015 Red Sox rotation definitely is not a sure thing. While the likes of the top half of the rotation seem to be finding a grove, the lower tiers seem to be asking more questions than they’re answering. For the 4 and 5 slots, Boston has to at least consider a shake up, which includes calling up one of their left-handed prospects from triple-A. Such a move would probably spell the end to Masterson’s Red Sox career.
- Entering the season, it seemed like offense was the least of the Red Sox worries. But with the rotation budding and the bullpen holding form, Boston find themselves lacking what they were most focused on this past winter. The team’s offensive shortcomings are particularly magnified against left-handed pitching; a problem that was exploited by the Mariners after they shuffled their deck to feature 3 lefties in a 4 game set. With more lefties on deck this month, Boston will need to quickly figure things out. (Red Sox’ latest lefty problem might be most difficult to fix)
- We will finally get a first hand look at 19-year old shortstop Yoan Moncada this season. The team announced on Sunday that the Cuban born product will make his American baseball debut in Greenville on Monday night. Moncada, who elected to sign with the Boston as an international free agent in March, is said to be a 5-tool player, but his young age will force the Sox to take their time with his development. (Yoan Moncada set for organizational debut)
- The Red Sox rotation has been better of late, but Boston will most likely need a rotation shake up before too long. With Justin Masterson ailing and Joe Kelly proving ineffective and inconsistent, Boston can afford to look both externally and internally at their options. But while reeling in an ace like Johnny Cueto or Cole Hamels could provide an instant impact, Boston seems more likely to give internal options the first shot. (The best candidates to upgrade the Red Sox rotation)
- Much like the Red Sox starting rotation has begun to settle in, so to has the team’s bullpen arms. Along with Junichi Tazawa, the bridge to an effective Koji Uehara has been solidified by the recent call up of Matt Barnes. Along with Barnes, offseason addition Alexi Ogando has also provided Boston with another quality, high octane arm. Along with the power righties, the emergence of Tommy Layne as a lefty specialist has fortified Boston’s pen. (Red Sox relievers settling into defined roles)
- Tweet of the day: In other baseball related news, Gregory Polanco blew a game in hilarious fashion.