Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
We’re ten games into the 2014 season, which means your Boston Red Sox have completed 1/16th of the Major League slate, just like that. For all the talk of using an appropriate sample size to evaluate performance (and as nominal President of the Daniel Nava Fan Club, no one is more cognizant than I), here are some trends that have developed over ten games and two runs through the Red Sox starting rotation:
After a bumpy welcome (striking out looking as a pinch hitter to end the first game of the season), Bradley has wowed at the plate and in the field. While the .364 average in 22 at-bats is unsustainable, the defense will be there and his minor league portfolio projects a disciplined, useful MLB bat. John Farrell will be pressed to find playing time for Bradley once Shane Victorino returns. Will we see an outfield of Bradley, Sizemore and Victorino, as new BSI writer Matthew Loper suggests?
Though he hasn’t homered or driven in a run since his Opening Day outburst, Sizemore’s bat has largely stayed warm, with six hits and three walks in six starts since. Despite vowing otherwise, Farrell has turned over the leadoff spot to the former Cleveland Indian rather quickly. While Sizemore continues to get regular rest, we’ll see how he responds to the consistent challenge of setting the table.
While Jon Lester and John Lackey have continued to pitch like the bankable starters they were down the stretch in 2013, Peavy has opened the season with two impressive starts, a huge boost given the early inconsistencies of Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront. While the guy we saw in San Diego is long gone, 30 starts from Peavy 2.0 would help keep the Sox in what looks to be a competitive AL East race.
Capuano has been billed as both overrated and underrated by the BSI staff since his signing, but the lefty has left no doubt of his impact over the first ten games. The Springfield native has made four appearances with Craig Breslow on the shelf and allowed just three hits in five innings pitched, striking out five.
Napoli is leading the team in RBI and strikeouts, as he did last April. There will be times when the strikeouts are far more prevalent than the RBI – in the meantime, enjoy the run.
It’s clear that Nava has been pressing, as he’s struck out ten times against only one base on balls – uncharacteristic of normally patient hitter. Perhaps it was the leadoff spot, perhaps the logjam in the outfield. Or perhaps just a cold streak – those tend to happen (just look at Xander Bogaerts with an 0-for-10 slide after starting the season on fire). Nava looked perfectly comfortable swatting a Michael Pineda offering into the stands last night. Hopefully that gets him going.
Doubront hasn’t impressed in either of his April turns after a shaky spring training. The absolute egg he laid against the Rangers (six hits, five earned runs and three walks in 2 2/3 innings) begs the question: if the 26-year old isn’t anything more than a fifth starter, how soon until we see one of the Pawtucket young guns take his place?
There are still so many questions about Buchholz headed in 2014. But don’t worry, folks, his velocity is back. The righty got cuffed for 13 hits in his first start against Milwaukee, but looked better last night against the Yankees, hitting 94 mph on the gun.
Even if Buchholz isn’t as dominant as he was in early 2013, I’d take 85% of that guy if he can just stay in the rotation. The pitcher we saw last night can win double digits and then some for the Sox (provided the lineup churns out more than four hits).
So Mujica got smoked for four runs in one appearance. No need to go all Jim Johnson here. He has a proven track record and that ugly ERA will go down as we move through April.
Carp has logged only seven at-bats, and that’s with Shane Victorino out of the lineup. While Hacksaw Jonny Gomes has 11 strikeouts in 23 at-bats, Farrell seems inclined to go with his good luck charm for now. Carp seems to be the odd man out. He can play first base as well as the outfield, and that gives him value in a trade scenario, but Ben Cherington must not be hearing too much from other clubs, as the 27-year old continues to sit.