If the Red Sox pitching sucked just a LITTLE bit, you’re looking at a four-game sweep of the Orioles. That’s how bad they were in the last two games of this series.
After taking the first two games of the four-game set in Baltimore, the Red Sox scored 18 runs on 27 hits and lost both games. And if you go back to the Toronto series this past weekend, they’ve scored 25 runs on 42 hits, nine of which were home runs, in their last three losses combined. They’re averaging 8.3 runs, 14 hits and 3 home runs per game in their last three losses. Think about that. How bad does your pitching have to be to do that kind of damage offensively, and still lose all three games?
That’s not even the question that I want answered. The question I want answered is, who is mostly responsible for this? Better yet, how do you fix this? And when I suggested that this was a problem that needed to be fixed last night after the game, I was bombarded with people throwing out the fact that the Red Sox have the best record in the American League. At 32-22, that is true, and I’m not saying the sky is falling here, either. Also, it should be noted that this isn’t an overreaction to three losses, 54 games into a 162-game season.
It’s more just recognizing that there’s a hole in the ship, and trying to patch it up before it becomes a giant hole. Because, guess what? The Blue Jays aren’t the sleeping giant anymore. They’re awake. Last Wednesday, they were 7 games back of first place. After winning 8 of their last 10 games, they’re now 3.5 back of the Red Sox, and two of those wins came at your expense. And you can bet your ass that they’re going to keep climbing, especially if you continue to lose games that you’re averaging more than 8 runs per game.
You wanna talk records? Here’s a record — the Red Sox are 13-13 against American League East teams. That’s not going to win you a division title when you go .500 against teams within the division. The fact that the Red Sox have averaged 8.3 runs per game in their last three losses, and all three losses have come against divisional opponents, is inexcusable.
You can point to John Farrell’s bullpen mismanagement, and stomp your feet that guys are being overworked or underutilized, like in the cases of Junichi Tazawa and Robbie Ross Jr, but at what point do you just look at the group that you have in place, and recognize that the team as it is currently assembled is not good enough to win a championship? Despite the record, despite being in first place, despite the league-leading run differential — despite all of that. At what point do you look at this Red Sox offense, and how they will likely go down as one of the greatest Red Sox offenses of all-time, and decide that they’re a group worth investing in for the long haul? And by the “long haul”, I mean October.
I’m sure everyone will then ask, well, who do you suggest they go out and get? That’s Dave Dombrowski’s job. Personally, I think the bullpen is a bigger issue than the rotation. In those last three losses, Rick Porcello started two of them, and I wouldn’t exactly consider him to be a “problem”, as the larger body of his work this year has been just fine. And, of course, the other game was started by Joe Kelly, who was demoted to Pawtucket immediately. The rest of the rotation, made up of Steven Wright, David Price and Eduardo Rodriguez, is plenty good enough to win with the way this offense puts runs on the board. You’ll need to address that vacated spot in the rotation in about two weeks, but I believe the bullpen is the more glaring issue, especially with Tazawa being overworked, which is exactly what they were trying to avoid when they traded for Carson Smith, and also Koji Uehara showing signs of being 76 years old.
You could say that it’s too early to start talking trades, but that’s not entirely true. I’d call up the Atlanta Braves right now, who have been mathematically eliminated from the postseason since the second week of April, and inquire on a bullpen arm like Arodys Vizcaino. He’s appeared in 22 games this year, has a 1.59 ERA, a 1.72 FIP, 33 strikeouts in 22.2 innings, and doesn’t walk a lot of guys. That’s an arm who could come in and help you right now, especially in the late innings as a power arm. His fastball velocity is averaging 98.28 MPH this year. That’s the first call I make if I’m Dombrowski, and I make it soon.
Final score: Orioles 12, Red Sox 7