Red Sox rotation options are thin
The Boston Red Sox arduous path to the playoffs is indeed a trying physical and emotional experience. That sarcastically also applies to the players despite travel that would make Air Force One appear as a Ford Tri-Motor. The emotional is one the players deal with existing under the microscope of performance and the physical is starting to surface. Physical could be just the doldrums of a long season or minor ailments that impinge performance.
The offense is weighted down with several players whose contributions will not be confused with Carl Yastrzemski circa 1967 or David Ortiz – pick just about any year. Teams can survive without an offensive juggernaut. Baseball history has even assigned quaint and lasting nicknames such as “Hitless Wonders.” This Red Sox team can hit.
That great baseball tactician and philosopher Earl Weaver summed it up best: “The only thing that matters is what happens on the little hump out in the middle of the field.” Right now that bump is malignant. And there are few solutions. The culprits are easy to locate as they surface every fifth day to take that little bump and be folded, spindled, and mutilated to resurrect an old MIS phrase.
Three in the rotation have shocked, surprised, failed, or succeded depending on the start. Nathan Eovaldi, Garrett Richards, and Martin Perez have all taken their turn. Some of those turns are memorable and others are forgettable. Collectively they have done the job. Then there is what remains.
The two most noted culprits in rotation meltdowns are Nick Pivetta and Eduardo Rodriguez. Since I think backward the first is the inept E-Rod. Just what has happened? The reams of metrics offer some insight and I am positive that coaches of all descriptions have attempted to solve this pitching Gordian knot. Health, stamina, or whatever has all conspired to make pending free agency a real downer for the lefty.
That segues into the second part which is Pivetta. Pivetta has suddenly crashed. Both are in a similar situation. And both via circumstance will enjoy several more trips to the bump to be further pounded or pitch their way to a positive resolution. Simply put is there is little else available. The media – print and social – is certainly aflame with the recent failures of both. Low hanging fruit for me.
There is rescue on the way but that rescue is dependent entirely on the human body’s ability to recover. As 99.9% of Red Sox fans are aware that is lefty Chris Sale. Sale, however, may have more rust than a Ford Pinto wasting away in the local junkyard. Sale may actually not join the rotation but slowly work his way back via the bullpen. What the starters are leaving the bullpen may just be garbage time.
Normally Tanner Houck or Bryan Mata would be in the rotation or given the opportunity. Mata is gone until deep into the 2022 season. Houck has a tender elbow and the Red Sox are moving cautiously. A smart choice with the promising Houck.
Now back to little else to plug up a possible rotation mess once patience has run thin. On the roster is Matt Andriese. Andriese has experience as a starter but that was years ago. And if the Red Sox pushed him into an opener role they could be faced being down a few runs. Ditto with just about any others in case of a drastic opener concept is used.
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The Red Sox could also trade and one name mentioned is Max Scherzer. This is about as good as it gets for mid-season pitching refreshment. In days of yore, this would be a no-brainer as the Red Sox and Yankees would be fully engaged in oneupmanship to acquire the sure thing. Neither team is expected to violate the luxury tax so Scherzer can wander elsewhere.
The leftovers are slim at this point unless Rick Porcello is still interested. The facts are tinkering with the rotation could replace baseball death by hanging with baseball death by a firing squad. So the best approach is to give them patience. Pitchers – like hitters – have slumps where the mechanics just fail. The arm becomes dead weight and hitters apparently become intuitive to every pitch.
The Red Sox are in the playoff picture and manager Alex Cora is certainly going to exhibit patience with his rotation. The stark reality is Cora and the fans have few other choices. We’ve seen how well these five arms can be when everything is clicking. Now it’s just time to weather the storm until they can come back out on the other side.