June 21, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester (31) walks off the field after being relieved in the sixth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Red Sox Pitching Is Stumbling And Change Needs To Happen Soon

In real estate it’s location, location, location. In baseball it’s pitching, pitching, pitching and right now the Red Sox are slumming it in the low rent district.

Injury and flat out poor performance have the Sox in a 5-8 skid over the last two weeks. All this has happened in a hurry as has left them licking their wounds in preparation for a quick two-game series against the Rockies and a key three-game series against a red hot Blue Jays team (11 straight wins).

Boston’s only bona fide quality starter, Clay Buchholz hasn’t pitched since leaving in the middle of what would turn out to be a 7-2 win against the Angels on June 8. His scheduled return on Tuesday is in jeopardy after he missed a scheduled bullpen session this weekend. Regrettably, it’s always the same story with Buchholz. When he’s healthy he’s one of the best. He just can’t stay healthy.

After a smokin’ start in April, Boston’s starting pitching now ranks a pedestrian 15th in the league with a 3.70 and growing ERA. In the last 30 days both Ryan Dempster and Jon Lester have lost three times and Andrew Bailey has blown three save and lost his job.

The bullpen has also had their share of let downs. Andrew Miller, Andrew Bailey, Craig Breslow and Alex Wilson all have losses, indicative of a relief corp that can’t hold a lead. Against some of their more likely postseason foes – the Orioles (2-5), the Tigers (1-3), and the Rangers (2-4) – they’re simply not matching up well.

As reported by the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo, “General manager Ben Cherington indicated that if he felt the team needed some pitching solutions he would have to entertain a trade with some of his redundant prospects. That time may be coming sooner rather than later.”

June 21, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Andrew Miller (30) pitches in the ninth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Boston won 10-6. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Boston’s woes were never more evident than in the 7-5 loss Sunday against the Tigers. Farrell brought in Bailey, who’d just lost his closer job to Koji Uehara, in the seventh. Bailey faced three batters and gave up two hits. He was replaced by Andrew Miller who gave up a two-run single and hit a batter.

The next inning after a crucial call against Daniel Nava Bryan Holaday laid down a sac bunt, which Miller fielded and threw wide to draw Pedroia off first base. A sac fly and two-run single later off Craig Breslow and Boston’s latest pitching collapse was complete.

While Allen Webster is till drawing critical acclaim, he’s 0-2. Working out your stuff in the what is becoming an increasingly intense pennant race may not be the best way to break in young talent.

I’m not ready to press the panic button just yet but as the season turns the corner for the All-Star break it’s clear that the Sox have flaws, primary of which is their pitching and something needs to change.

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  • Rick M

    You go to fangraphs and the June bullpen figures are not comforting. They are 5th in innings pitched out of the ‘pen but those innings are not that productive.

    IMHO you have a core group of Miller, Breslow, Tazawa and Kojo who all have done – for the most part – a credible job. The I-95 bullpen shuttle bus has just been so-so. Mortensen could help if his sluggish performance is injury related. Aceves could return to his 2011 role but appears more needed in the role he has been filling. Getting a healthy Buchholz could lessen some bullpen pressure. Big issue to me is the decline of Lester. That has killed this team the last six weeks. As much as I’d hate dumping top of the litter prospects and assuming a gazillion dollars in contract Sox may be forced into making a substantial offer for Lee. Lincecum may be a cheaper option but I doubt Giants would deal unless blown away.

    • John Fahrer

      I’d up the Lee offer to Lester, Middlebrooks, Sean Coyle, Keury DeLaCruz, Drake Britton, maybe Lavarnway, and Bard and/or Kalish as PTBNL.

      • John Fahrer

        The Phils would have to include Young in the deal if the Sox were to part with Middlebrooks.

    • stephenepeterson

      Great analysis. You should write for us :)

  • Guest

    miller didn’t give up a two run single

  • hop

    miller didn’t give up a two run single watch the game

    • stephenepeterson

      Well as they say in the south, “well shut my mouth wide open.” I indeed watched the game but quite obviously got mixed up. Miller gave up a single to Prince Fielder then hit Jhonny Peralta. Omar Infante forced out Iggy to Pedey. I stand corrected. Surely this won’t be the last time I’m wrong. Just ask my wife.

      • hop

        sorry, I am just a huge Andrew Miller fan.

        • stephenepeterson

          And increasingly there’s a lot to like. After coming up with the Tigers and getting tagged as ineffectively wild, he seems to have come to the Sox at just the right time. He has quieted his wild streak and is becoming a tough lefty who, because of his height thows downhill and at a nasty angle. I like the guy a lot too.