Red Sox rotation woes continue as Martín Pérez falters
Another day, another outing where the Red Sox have been let down by their starting rotation. For the first part of the season, it felt like we were looking back at highlights from 2018 with the way the starters were dominating. Now? Now it feels like we’re back in 2020 and we have to rely on the offense to dig us out of holes and the bullpen to hold the fort down. Martín Pérez was on the bump today and while he’s far exceeded any expectations set for him, his past two outings have been absolutely dreadful.
As the fifth man in the rotation, there isn’t much in the way of expectations for Pérez but there are some. You know, like going five or maybe six innings and limiting the damage from the opposition. For the most part this season he has done exactly that and has done it well. In fact, he was Boston’s best starter in May with a 3-0 record and a 3.55 ERA in 27.2 innings.
Since the calendar flipped to June things have been a bit of a head-scratcher. His first start of the month saw him silence the Astros in Houston to the tune of 7.2 IP/6 H/1 BB/4 K. However, that magic seems to be gone and he’s gotten rocked hard since that day. His last start also came against the Astros but the 2017 World Champions were ready for the southpaw and they tuned him up for six earned runs on six hits in just two innings of work.
I didn’t think it could get much worse than that but then today happened. Pérez made it just an inning and a third before getting pulled for the returning Ryan Weber. Martín would get absolutely smoked by the Blue Jays as he gave up five earned on six hits with three being homers. Weber was brought back to the Red Sox to be a long reliever but I don’t think anyone expected to see him in the second inning. Toronto jumped on the veteran southpaw before anyone knew what was happening and the game was over before it started
This has become a trend for the Red Sox and their starting rotation as of late and it doesn’t seem to be correcting itself anytime soon. For every start where it feels like a good matchup for Boston, it winds up turning in a hurry. Whether it be a single inning meltdown, an all-out beatdown, or just a slog of misery. The bullpen can’t continue being fed to the lions because the rotation can’t get later in games. At this rate, Boston’s once-strong pitching staff who is getting beaten up on both ends won’t have anything left for the second half.
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As I look at the entire rotation I am wondering if last year may still be haunting this squad. All of Boston’s starters have either matched or wildly exceeded their totals from the COVID shortened 2020. While I’d have to look around the rest of the league to see if other teams may be seeing this fatigue as well, it could be a factor for at least this club. It was a worry that Alex Cora mentioned a few times throughout the early goings of 2021 and I think his fears may be coming true. An already, “meh to good,” rotation is starting to come back down to Earth.
For Pérez, I think he can bounce back and return to the form we saw in May. He was one of the few bright spots for the Red Sox in 2020 and was off to a pretty solid start before his recent crash into reality. If he can at least get back to where he was and get through five to six innings while limiting damage, I call that a success. If we start seeing more of what we did today and last week, then I’m going to get worried.
This rotation can be good and find themselves again but it’s going to take some work and some help. Whether that be some wheeling and dealing by Chaim Bloom or a lot of extra tape study, something has to happen, and soon. As of now they’ve been competitive and have a serious shot at returning to the playoffs, but it can’t all be on the shoulders of the offense and bullpen.