Anthony Ranaudo not impressing in cup of coffee for Red Sox


On the surface, Anthony Ranaudo hasn’t been awful in his six-start cup of coffee for the Red Sox in 2014. Sure, his 5.29 ERA isn’t great but it certainly isn’t unsightly; however, delving farther into Ranaudo’s MLB debut season, the right-hander has been incredibly disappointing to start his career.

Through his Minor League career, Ranaudo was always hailed as having two strong pitches between his fastball and curve. And that’s been true to a degree, as his low 90’s fastball and hard-breaking 12-6 curve are both solid pitches, but both of those offerings have had limited efficacy simply because of how often he has used them. Similar to Rubby De La Rosa, who has thrown either his fastball or change 87% of the time, Ranaudo has leaned heavily on his two primary pitches, throwing either his heater or curve almost 90% of the time.

While De La Rosa has shown flashes of brilliance, however, Ranaudo has been mediocre at best in every one of his starts. Walks have been a concern for Ranaudo throughout his Minor League career, and that’s continued in Boston as he has walked 4.2 batters per nine innings, but the real issue is how few batters he has struck out as he is punching out just 3.6 per nine innings, as he has walked two more batters than he has struck out. Understandably, that has had a negative effect on his peripheral stats and his FIP of 7.73 suggests that he has been far worse than his already poor ERA.

More than anything else, however, the biggest worry regarding Ranaudo’s cup of coffee is simply how hard he has been hit. Despite only allowing a .221 BABIP (which will likely rise in a larger sample size), Ranaudo has allowed a remarkable 2.8 HR/9, an almost-impressively bad number considering the decline in home runs across Major League Baseball.

Altogether, Ranaudo’s cup of coffee has included very few positive elements. While he has only had one train wreck outing so far, when he allowed 4 runs on 6 hits in 3.1 innings against the Orioles, he has not been impressive in any of his outings thus far. The best start that Ranaudo has put together was his Major League debut, when he allowed just 2 runs in 6 innings against the Yankees but he still walked 4 and only struck out 2 batters.

It’s early in his Major League career but, even more than De La Rosa, his performance has opened major questions about his future as a starting pitcher. Through just six starts, he has already been worth -0.7 wins above replacement, on pace for almost -4 wins over a full season. If nothing else, this cup of coffee has nearly ensured that he won’t be in the rotation to start next season as it’s clear that he needs to develop a third pitch as well as improving his control. Hopefully this debut is just an aberration and Ranaudo will live up to his sizable potential but just six starts have cast a dark cloud over his future as a starter.