The weekly article series where we examine the two players who deserve to strut their stuff for the Boston Red Sox. This week — Dustin Pedroia and … no one else.
Now to fully understand what the Red Sox Strut is, it means to have reason to walk with a confident, proud air around you. Some people mistake it for vanity, arrogance, or being pompous. This incorrect assumption is not what we mean. The Strut is about knowing that your deeds showed off your amazing skills to the baseball-loving public.
Let’s be honest. No one in the Boston Red Sox clubhouse deserves to be strutting at the moment. This has been a horrible stretch for Boston. They have lost five of their last seven games since the last Red Sox Strut. From last Tuesday through Monday night, they went 1-2 against the White Sox, 1-2 against the Rangers in Texas and got completely smoked by the cellar dwelling Tampa Rays on Monday night.
Besides the game against Chicago in which they could only manage to score one run, offensive production hasn’t really been the issue. Sure, they could maybe use some more timely hits in high pressure situations with men on base, but the Sox have been scoring plenty of runs for the most part. It’s that same ol’ theme for Boston this season…they need better pitching all-around from both the starting rotation and their bullpen.
POSITIONAL PLAYER: Dustin Pedroia
There has been plenty of talk about the exciting youngsters on the team in Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts. Both are having great seasons and have been highlighted multiple times in the Strut. This week, both continued to play extremely well, and specifically one could easily make the argument for Mookie to earn the honors this week. However, I’ve decided to go another route.
I’m decided to take a look at one of the veteran leaders of the team. No, I’m not talking about the man retiring at the end of 2016 in David Ortiz, although he did play well despite having a couple days off to rest his feet. Another honorable mention should go to Sandy Leon, who has really made an impact since returning. But for the first time all year, it’s time for Dustin Pedroia to get his name called to Strut his stuff.
It’s been a quiet season for the “Laser Show”, but that doesn’t mean Pedroia hasn’t been consistent and solid both at the plate and in the field. Even with the Sox struggling over the course of the last week, Pedroia just continues to get on base and make things happen. Combined with the spark that their lead-off man provides, Betts and Pedroia have made a perfect 1-2 punch at the top of the lineup.
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Pedroia was 9-26 (.346) for the week, and hit safely in every game except for one against Texas. Even in that game, Pedey still found a way to make an impact and get on base, walking two times and scoring a run. He is hitting .305 on the season with an on-base percentage of .368. It’s been a quiet year on the home run front with only seven thus far, but Boston can live with that as long as he’s getting on base ahead of Bogaerts and Big Papi.
It’s an unconventional week in that the Sox have been going down the drain, so I figured it’s as good a week as any to highlight a well-rounded, model player that came up through the Sox system. Mookie and Xander will have their chance to Strut plenty of times in the upcoming weeks, but for now…shake a leg Dustin!
PITCHER: NO ONE
Here’s where it gets interesting. You know it’s been a rough week when you literally can’t find one starter to highlight as the pitcher of the week. Unfortunately, the bullpen has been just as bad.
Clay Buchholz had two chances this past week. He gave up four hits and three runs in five innings in a loss to the White Sox in which he was taken deep and out of the park on the very first pitch of the game, and then got beat up again in the first inning in Texas on Sunday giving up five runs (four earned) on seven hits and four walks in 5.1 innings. He needs to be better to justify his spot in the rotation.
Rick Porcello hasn’t looked to great as of late and is definitely not the same guy that looked like a solid number two in the first month of the season. The White Sox hit him around for eight hits and four runs and knocked him out of the game in the sixth inning.
Eduardo Rodriguez may find himself back in Pawtucket after getting completely slaughtered by the Rays on Monday night. He couldn’t even get through three innings against a bad hitting team giving up eleven hits and nine runs. His ERA is now 8.59. Whether it’s the knee injury still bothering him or he truly is tipping his pitches, he and the Sox coaching staff need to figure it out quickly.
I’d love to say I could turn to the ace of the staff, but he didn’t look like an ace at all this week. David Price was crushed by the red hot Rangers and couldn’t get through three innings. Somehow, Boston was able to come back in this game to give Price a no-decision, but this was probably his worst performance all season. Six runs and twelve hits in just 2.1 innings – that’s gross!
That leaves the fallback plan, and the guy that some fans may argue is the actual ace of the staff. Of course I’m talking about knuckleballer Steven Wright. WRONG! Wright had a very rough outing on Saturday night in Texas. He gave up eight runs (even though only three were earned) on seven hits in 4.2 innings.
I’d love to say that the bullpen picked up their teammates, but the bullpen is really struggling at the moment as well. It could be that they are over-worked which is clearly the case when you have the starting pitching described above. Matt Barnes, Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara all had some bad moments over the week. Craig Kimbrel really didn’t get any save opportunities but did earn himself a win. Heath Hembree has filled an important role for Boston and had some good innings, but not enough to earn the right to strut.
So…with all that said, for the first time ever, no Red Sox pitcher has earned the right to Strut. That’s where we’re at this point in the season. They could currently be at a breaking point. If the pitching doesn’t improve, the Sox could easily find themselves permanently behind the eight ball and out of the playoff picture.