Red Sox Resolution #1: Pitch Better
Hey, should be an easy one, right? Don’t suck at pitching and the wins should start flowing right in! Well, it’s easier said than done. In 2020, the Red Sox finished dead last in the pitching department, per Fangraphs. That’s right, friends, the bottom of the dumpster 30 out of a possible 30.
It’s not hard to see why when two of you best pitchers are on the IL all season and the third gets traded away. Add in another veteran from your staff leaving via free agency and your starting rotation is now down to one man. Granted Nathan Eovaldi was stellar for much of the year and Martin Perez surprised the hell out of everyone. They weren’t given much of a supporting cast to work with.
It wasn’t until the end of the season with the debuts of Tanner Houck and the newly acquired Nick Pivetta, did Eovaldi and Perez get some sort of relief from other starters. For as well as Chaim Bloom did with some of his bargain signings, he failed miserably in the pitching department. Even in games where starters didn’t give away the game by the third inning, the bullpen couldn’t keep the team in the race either.
When you’re flipping the ball to a guy who hasn’t pitched in over half a decade in Mike Kickham, you’ve got problems. Even the trusted relievers of year’s past couldn’t hold up their end of the bargain. Boston’s ERA was the third-worst in the Majors at a nauseating 5.58, trailing just the Rockies (5.59), and Tigers (5.63).
Again, it sounds super easy to just tell the guys to pitch better but it’s true. Boston had the second-worst BB/9 in 2020 at 4.33, finishing a hair behind the Pirates (4.37). They did come close to finishing in the Top-10 of K/9 though at 9.22, good enough for 11th place. The moral of the story is that placing the ball is the key to success, being more selective with pitches will change things drastically. It was the key to success in 2018 and can be again in 2021.