There are only a few days left in April and with nearly a month of the season in the books, Red Sox starting pitchers have a horrendous 5.79 ERA combined. While there have been bright spots from each of the starters, consistency has been a major problem for the team.
The Red Sox are still tied for second in the division, holding an 11-9 record and only one game back from the Yankees but if the pitching trend continues the Sox are going to have some major problems.
The relievers have been a bit better than the starters but the team still is averaging 5 runs per game, making them the second worst pitching team in baseball.
The question remains though, what can be done?
I’m not worried about Rick Porcello, his woes are from the long ball and his homerun to fly ball percentage is nearly double his career average. I fully expect that number to normalize as the year goes on and while he might not be as good as he was last year, he is someone that I think the Sox can count on.
The rest of the rotation however raises some questions. We all know about Clay Buchholz and his consistency issues. Justin Masterson and Wade Miley were brought in to anchor down the rotation but haven’t been able to exactly do that. At times, Masterson has looked great but he has also been terrible. The same can be said about Joe Kelly, who was masterful in his first start, going 7 innings, allowing one hit and striking out 8. However, he hasn’t been able to find that success again this season.
The Red Sox shouldn’t be pulling anyone from the rotation, yet. While usually a month is enough of a sample, the team can’t afford to blow up the rotation this early in the season.
If they do decide to make a move, the team will most likely attempt to promote from within before making any trades. Henry Owens, the team’s top pitching prospect, has a 3.94 ERA in 3 starts in AAA this season. While not terrible, he’s clearly not ready for the call up to the big leagues yet. Eduardo Rodriguez on the other had has looked fantastic, posting a 1.93 ERA in 3 starts with a 16:1 K:BB ratio. He is showing he is ready for a shot at the big leagues and could get the call up sooner rather than later.
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Ben Cherrington has stated many times that he doesn’t want to sell the farm to add a top of the line starter and with the play of Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts, he will probably stand true to this. The only other young player that could potentially pull a top arm would be Blake Swihart, but he is tearing AAA up right now, hitting .322 with 10 RBIs so he is probably also still off limits.
There have been some rumblings about trading Allen Craig but his value is so low at the moment that he won’t be able to pull anyone better than what we have right now. The Sox could potentially package Henry Owens with Craig to try and pull a top of the rotation starter, but considering the team needs pitching it seems a little counter-intuitive to move Owens.
Don’t expect any moves in the rotation just yet, but if by mid-may the team’s ERA is still hovering around 5 and the starters are still struggling, don’t be surprised if the team shakes things up a bit.