Red Sox Einstein approach to pitching has the expected results
By Rick McNair
For the Boston Red Sox pitching, many have tried and failed.
The Boston Red Sox are on the cusp of a unique double-double in pitching with only the inept Mariners bullpen providing a challenge. The Red Sox pitching staff is ranked last in the American League with a -1.4 fWAR and a comfortable lead over the Tigers 0.8 fWAR. A breakdown – breakdown being an appropriate word when discussing Red Sox pitching – shows the starters at -0.8 fWAR ahead of or behind the (no surprise) Tigers. Then comes the issue.
"“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein"
The relief staff is shockingly in 14th place at -0.6 fWAR ahead of only the Mariners -1.4 fWAR. It is difficult to imagine a relief grouping worse but, alas, there is. I did a cursory glance at the M’s bullpen and no former Red Sox player’s names popped up so Boston is not patient zero in the M’s disaster.
Much internet ink has been dispersed on the Red Sox pitching staff and BSI and myself have been contributors. Postings on social media with fans whose pedigree goes back to the 1940s relate this is as bad as they have seen. Articles have been written and BSI has done their share on aligning the current staff with those in Red Sox history. I have reflected that the only staff resembling Boston’s is the 1930 Philadelphia Phillies, but they had a few redeeming arms, and baseball offensive numbers were inflated that season.
Statistically, they walk too many, allow too many home runs, whiff too few, and are a metrics and traditionally statistical nightmare. If there is a negative stat on pitching the Red Sox have a run at it. The level of incompetence is staggering since usually, an arm either in the rotation or bullpen, will provide some level of stability.
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The “Ace” by default is lefty Martin Perez who brought his free-agent arm over from the Twins where he posted a 10-7 winning record and 5.12 ERA last season. Perez is simply a lower rotation pitcher who didn’t make the cut for the ALDS roster in 2019.
With Boston, Perez has suffered the usual indignation that befalls a pitcher who is actually earning his keep this season. Once the game is turned over to the bullpen it is as good as gone for the gritty Perez. The normally proficient Red Sox offense is on hiatus when Perez takes the hill so our “Ace” is no threat to leading the league in wins.
The other bright spot – and that term is applied quite loosely – is right-hander Nathan Eovaldi. Eovaldi was the recipient of a questionable contract whose foundation appeared to be based on playoff performances in 2018. Since then, Eovaldi has done little except visit the IL with frequency.
That is our staff. The names are interchangeable and forgettable as they are shuffled constantly between Pawtucket and Boston. I do believe Einstein’s missive on insanity applies to the approach the Red Sox have adopted. The results are as Einstein predicted.
I had no illusions about this season which even under normal circumstances would have the Red Sox as a 90 loss team, but when you have the Einstein approach occasionally an arm will surface that brings a glimmer of future hope. Phillips Valdez appeared as such, but suddenly Valdez has faded. No one has put forward a positive and that is where I have anchored my disappointment for 2020. Einstein was right.