The Boston Red Sox struggled on the mound at the beginning of the season but in recent weeks the starters have found their mojo and teams should be worried.
Red Sox Nation rejoice! Things are on the upswing and the team is looking like the squad that we all know and love. It was a rough start to the season but Boston now seems to have their identity back and they’re rolling. With yesterday’s victory against the Mariners, the Sox have won 5 in a row and 9 out of their last 11. A big reason the wins have been pouring in lately can be attributed to the stellar performances of the starting rotation.
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Going into 2019 the Red Sox had one of the best-looking starting rotations in the majors and things should’ve been sunshine and rainbows since day one. We had retained our rotation and everyone seemed healthy going into the new season. However, things didn’t quite go as planned and for much of the early part of the season, the starting rotation was a major liability.
Chris Sale who had just signed a new 5-year/$145M contract was a ghost of his past self. Rick Porcello who rarely gives up walks was handing them out like candy on Halloween. Nathan Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez, and David Price all seemed lost when they’d take the mound.
There was another factor built into the early struggles of the starting rotation and that was the lack of run support. Even on nights when the arms were looking good the bats were as cold as ice. But the times they are a changin’ and both the pitchers and batters are back in full force. That’s right, I’m ready to proclaim that the Red Sox are back.
Though Sale started the season 0-5, his last few starts have seen all of his metrics trend towards the positive. He isn’t budging an inch as far as hits and walks, his velocity is staying in the mid-90s, and he’s back to making batters look foolish at the plate. He also pitched an immaculate inning in his last start throwing only 9 pitches and all for strikes.
Much like Sale, Porcello has seen the negatives that plagued his early season start to dwindle. Though he still has issues giving up the deep ball, that has plagued him his entire career. He is once again back to being his old self and going deeper into games while giving the Red Sox a chance to remain in contention. In his last outing, Porcello would throw 6IP giving up 5H/2HR/7K, a hell of a night for the righty.
Eovaldi and Price are two different cases as both were placed on the IL after their most recent starts. Both went out and had great showings but with negative repercussions following. Nasty Nate had to get surgery to remove some loose fragments from his previously repaired elbow and will be out for another month or so.
Price felt some stiffness and was diagnosed with tendinitis and went on the 10-day and was already throwing just a few days into the stint. Both will be welcome additions back to the rotation when they’re healthy and ready to roll.
Finally, we have Eduardo Rodriguez who at times this season has been a revelation and other a headache. Coming out of spring training he was the pitcher that Red Sox Nation was told to keep an eye on after the amount of work he had put in. Then the struggles came and so did the headaches.
Early reports of ignoring gameplans and straying away from his best stuff led to some poor showings. Then the light switch flipped and he started lighting batters up and showing the potential we all knew he had. Through the early season pain, E-Rod often felt like our best starter.
The bullpen has also been a major support system just in the situation where one of the starters may have an off night. Guys like Marcus Walden or Ryan Weber can come into a game and eat innings to get to the later relievers to close things up. Then we can see Brandon Workman, Ryan Brasier, and Matt Barnes come into the game to shut things down. It’s been a full squad effort to get this team back in fighting shape.
With the Red Sox now just 3 games back of the AL East leading Tampa Bay Rays and 3 games over .500, they’re in a prime spot to get back to the top of the mountain. It may only be May but before we know it October will be knocking at the door and this team needs to be ready. With the starting rotation finally back to the form that kept the rest of baseball at bay last year, the Red Sox have a great chance at making another run.