Red Sox: Pitching will be the story surrounding Boston and the Mets

Apr 21, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Garrett Richards (43) throws a pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 21, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Garrett Richards (43) throws a pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports /

Red Sox need perfection to win against the Mets

The Red Sox sit atop the American League East and have made their way to Queens to do battle with the New York Mets. This road trip should allow Boston to work out some of the kinks they’ve run into recently as they’ll be seeing the Mets and Rangers before heading home to see the Tigers. Two of the three sit at the bottom of their respective divisions. I’ve seen many say that the series with New York should be an easy stop on the map but that’s far from the truth.

Game 1 kicks off tonight at 7:10 and will see Garrett Richards take on David Peterson in a battle of pitchers unlikely to win a Cy Young anytime soon. This is the first massive hurdle that the Red Sox are going to need to get over. Richards has been a hindrance to the team’s success all season long and doesn’t look to be getting better in the near future.

I have been critical of Richards and have had to see people tell me to give him time, well, time’s up. We’ve seen Richards start eight games up to this point through spring training and the regular season and I have seen nothing that should give me confidence. Yeah, he’s shown some ability to rebound and not totally collapse but that will only get you so far.

Your fifth starter isn’t supposed to be an ace but I also don’t want to feel like we have an automatic loss on the board every fifth day either. It’s one thing to let some runs score and then put a stop to the bleeding. But in his last start, it felt like Richards could’ve given up double digits without breaking a sweat.

My biggest gripe with him isn’t that he’s wildly inconsistent and just hasn’t been good, it’s that he doesn’t own that he’s been bad. Look no further than former Red Sox righty Rick Porcello and current Boston ace Chris Sale.

They’re the definition of pitchers who own what they do on the mound. If they stink, they take all the heat and blame and if they’re electric they make sure to give credit to their team around them. Richards on the other hand will say he’s not trying to make excuses, and then delivers excuses. Just own it and remember to pack a jacket.

Peterson hasn’t been the best pitcher on the roster this year and the Red Sox hitters should be able to put the hurt on him but our offense hasn’t been the most impressive as of late. If Boston wants to take the first game of this series they’ll need the bats to get hot and get hot early. Jumping on Peterson and putting runs on the board early will hopefully allow them to create enough room on the scoreboard to render Richards a non-factor.

In the early going of the 2021 season, the Red Sox have been able to post the most first-inning runs but they’ve also given up the most first-inning runs, not a good mix. Alex Cora needs his big hitters to be patient at the plate and wait for their pitches in order to make the Mets pay. Then it’ll be up to Richards to find whatever it is he’s looking for because they can’t afford another poor start.

Now that we have the first game out of the way I have to get to the elephant in the room, Jacob deGrom. The righty has been nothing but amazing so far in 2021 and in true fashion, the Mets haven’t rewarded him for his efforts. deGrom owns a 2-1 record through 29 innings pitched and has a 0.35 ERA.

That ERA leads the entire MLB and his 50 strikeouts leads the National League. On the other side of the coin, he has only walked three batters in that time frame. The Red Sox got lucky and scored most of their runs on Sunday thanks to free passes, that won’t happen tomorrow night.

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I can go on and on about how great deGrom is but I wouldn’t be saying anything that we don’t already know. I was hoping we could avoid him but of course the scheduling Gods weren’t that kind to us. Despite how often it feels like the Red Sox strikeout on a given night, they actually rank 28th in MLB with a 22% rate, which should help against the 2x Cy Young winner. The problem is that Boston tends to rack up those whiffs when the game is on the line. They’ll need to be as patient as possible because deGrom won’t allow many on base and the Sox can’t squander those chances.

Beyond the pitching is the offense and Boston has been very Jekyll and Hyde as of late. As I mentioned above some of the bigger hitters have gone a bit cold and they needed to rely on free passes on Sunday to eke out a win. While that may work tonight it surely won’t be the case tomorrow night. We need to see the core of the lineup remember that they’re some of the best hitters in the game while guys like Bobby Dalbec, Hunter Renfroe, and Franchy Cordero wake up. Everything needs to be clicking and firing on all cylinders to leave Queens with a pair of wins but it can be done.

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Boston and New York are in two different situations going into this series but both need to win. The Red Sox have a 3.0 game lead in the AL East while the Mets are clinging to just a 0.5 lead over the Phillies in the NL East. While this meeting is only two games and will be over before we know it this pair of games will be important to both sides when it’s all said and done. Luckily for the Red Sox, they have a pretty light schedule once they leave Queens and will be running into some of the bottom-of-the-barrel teams in the league. Even with that on the horizon, they need to go into Citi Field and execute, because if they don’t, things could start to get real interesting in the AL East.