There is no doubt that even though Red Sox management has been much more forgiving than the fans of the failure to compete the last two seasons. That said there has to be a limit to how long the ownership will allow their team to struggle with such a high payroll. John Farrell has had to deal with several underperforming players and some amount of lack of talent in the rotation, but he hasn’t helped himself much either.
It’s hard to judge him on only 15 games and I’m not trying to say that he’s already on the chopping block, but the season has not been a great start and once again several of his moves with regards to pitchers have raised the largest questions. For someone who came to managing from being a pitching coach I would expect his pitchers to play better and him to make better choices with regards to match ups.
He’s also made some questionable choices with regards to allowing his pitchers to throw higher volume of pitches. While perhaps not the reason he was injured it’s very curious to see Joe Kelly go down with a shoulder injury after going 115 pitches in his previous start. He’s done the same by his own admission with regards to Koji Uehara as well this season. The 41 year old pitcher has already faced 28 batters in his 7.1 IP.
As discussed the other day I thought Farrell was wrong to face the Blue Jays the way he did on Patriot Monday. He wasted Junichi Tazawa by only using him for two pitches and then turned to an overworked Uehara and then Craig Kimbrel in a spot that was not a very good spot for a pitcher who has a higher than average walk rate.
In my opinion if the pitching does not line up for the starter to last six or seven innings and allow Farrell to go straight to his three best relievers he struggles to strategize very well. The fact that Tommy Layne has faced as many right handed batters as left handed is just as damning as any other fact. Layne is a pure lefty specialist and should never see the mound in any way in a close game if a right hander is at the plate.
The other aspect of Farrell’s managing that leaves many scratching their heads is platoon and matchup of his hitters. This season Chris Young was brought in to face left handed pitching and spell the starters in the outfield. Now I understand there might have been something going on with Brock Holt earlier this week and that was why Young played even against right handed pitchers, but he’s had to many opportunities already. I know I’ve discussed the small factor of how much the platoon switch might be worth win wise, but that doesn’t mean you ignore it.
The Red Sox are still in the middle of the AL East right now and not in any danger of falling out of the race anytime soon. They are playing well, but unable to string together a run of solid games with good pitching and hitting on the same nights. Fangraphs still has the Red Sox leading the AL East in Playoff odds with a 63% shot of making the playoffs by division win or wild card.
Obviously the Red Sox have shown they are not the sort of team to make a rash decision and would need to fall 10 or more games out of the playoff race in the middle of the season to talk about this. That said if the Red Sox hit the end of June and have a record anywhere near the 36-45 record they had last July 1 it’s my belief that Farrell will finally be shown the exit.