The Boston Red Sox will enter the All-Star break with four starting pitchers in their rotation who have logged 10+ wins this season.
A rocky first inning for David Price had Boston Red Sox fans shaking their heads. Sure, he struck out the side. He also coughed up a two-run homer that put his team in an early hole. This was the last thing Price needed following a pair of clunkers to open the month of July.
The veteran lefty would settle down to produce a quality start. Price went 6 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on six hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out eight. The effort was rewarded with his 10th win of the season, thanks in large part to a dramatic grand slam by Mookie Betts.
The win was noteworthy for a number of reasons. The much-maligned Price will never live up to that lucrative contract but he’s been better than a frustrated fanbase would have you believe. He’s no longer an ace, but he’s a guy who can handle a heavy workload while pitching well enough to keep the Red Sox and their powerhouse offense in the game. That’s how he’s ended up with 10 wins, tied for seventh in the American League.
Making franchise history
It also means Price is the fourth member of this Red Sox rotation to join the double-digit win club this season. This marks the first time in franchise history that the Red Sox have had four starters reach the All-Star break with 10+ wins. No major league team has accomplished this since the 1977 Angels.
Chris Sale reached the 10 win mark in his last outing, while Rick Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez already have 11. Only three AL pitchers have more than 11 wins this season and they are all Cy Young contenders – Luis Severino (14), Corey Kluber (12), and Blake Snell (12).
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We know the drill with Porcello. Give him a modest amount of run support and the guy doesn’t lose. Porcello has been tagged with a loss only three times this season. His offense scored three runs or fewer while he was still in the game during each of those starts. A Red Sox team that averages a major league-best 5.4 runs per game will typically give him more than three runs.
Rodriguez is the owner of 11 wins and would have more if only he could last deeper into games. The Red Sox have won 15 of his 18 starts this season. Unfortunately, he hasn’t hung around long enough to get the credit for all of them because he averages less than six innings per start. E-Rod has lasted more than six innings only twice all season.
As for Sale, he’s been arguably the most dominant pitcher in the league. He leads the league in strikeouts while his 2.23 ERA and 0.90 WHIP both rank second. We expect a win every time there is a Sale Day. 10 wins actually seems a bit low based on how well he’s pitched.
Among the four starters in this rotation with double-digit wins, Sale has been the least fortunate when it comes to run support. That’s not to say that the ace doesn’t get any help from his friends.
Run Support helps
All four of these Red Sox starters rank in the top-13 in the league in run support.
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Boston’s prolific offense gets a fair share of credit for boosting those win totals but the pitchers have performed well in their own right. The Red Sox pitching staff ranks third in the league with a collective 3.53 ERA. The starting rotation is fourth with a 3.70 ERA. The top four starters – the ones who would make up a playoff rotation – own a collective 3.40 ERA.
The Red Sox have the best offense in baseball and a quality pitching staff that is racking up wins. No wonder the team’s winning percentage is nearing a historic pace.
Granted, this season started earlier than most. The Red Sox have already played 95 games, more than they’ve ever played prior to the All-Star break. Boasting a rotation with four pitchers with 10+ wins at this point in the season remains an impressive accomplishment. One this franchise has never seen.