Things Have Been Getting Worse for Red Sox Rotation

joe kelly sox yankees.jpg
Joe Kelly’s Sunday night start against the Yankees ended after just 4 2/3 innings, with the right-hander giving up five runs on nine hits in a 8-5 Yankees win. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

COMMENTARY

When you look at the Red Sox’s 12-13 record to start the season, it’s easy to see that things haven’t been going great for this team. When you take a closer look, you can see that things have been getting worse with each complete cycle through the pitching rotation.

There are numerous ways of judging a team’s effectiveness over the course of a season. Obviously, you can look at the results of each game, but the teams that are successful are the teams that win series. Successful teams have starting pitching rotations that win their five-game cycles. The Sox are not currently one of those teams.

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Look at the team’s results for each five-game trip through the Red Sox rotation:

• 4-1
• 3-2
• 2-3
• 2-3
• 1-4

As you can see, it’s gotten worse.

The mediocrity of the starters puts pressure on the bullpen to perform, often too frequently, and the offense to produce, often more than should be expected.

When you look at these numbers you will see why teams value aces as opposed to pitchers who ordinarily would be regarded as a No. 3 or No. 4 in the rotation. An ace can be counted on to frequently win, go deep in a game, give the bullpen a rest, give the offense a rest and provide the team with a reassurance as they enter a ballgame. The Sox don’t have one of those pitchers.

Take a look at each cycle through the rotation and how the bullpen had to be used in each game for each starter

1. Clay Buchholz: 7, Tazawa 1, Layne 1 – W
2. Rick Porcello: 6, Ross 1, Ogando 1 – L
3. Justin Masterson: 6, Breslow 1, Layne 1, Mujica 1 – W
4. Wade Miley: 5 1/3, Ross 2/3, Ogando 1, Tazawa 1, Mujica 1, Varvaro 1 1/3, Layne 1 2/3, Breslow 2, Wright 5 – W
5. Joe Kelly: 7.0, Ogando 0.2, Varvaro 0.1, Ross 1.0 – W

Team: 4-1
Starters: 3-1, 31 1/3 IP, ERA 2.30, WHIP 0.830

1. Buchholz: 3 1/3, Breslow 1 2/3, Layne 1, Varvaro 1, Tazawa 1, Mujica 1 – L
2. Porcello: 8, Tazawa 1 – W
3. Masterson: 4 2/3, Ogando 1 1/3, Mujica 1 1/3, Tazawa 2/3, Uehara 1 – W
4. Miley: 2 1/3, Varvaro 2 2/3, Ross 2, Breslow 2 – L
5. Kelly: 5 2/3, Mujica 1 1/3, Tazawa 1, Uehara 1 – W

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Team: 3-2
Starters: 1-2, 24 IP, ERA 10.50, WHIP 1.708

1. Buchholz: 6, Ogando 1, Varvaro 1, Ross 1 – L
2. Porcello: 5, Breslow 3, Mujica 1 – L
3. Masterson: 5, Tazawa 1 1/3, Ross 2/3 – W
4. Miley: 5 2/3, Ogando 1, Ross 1/3, Tazawa 1, Uehara 1 – W
5. Kelly: 5, Breslow 2/3, Mujica 1, Varvaro 1 1/3– L

Team: 2-3
Starters: 2-2, 26 2/3 IP, ERA 5.40, WHIP 1.838

1. Buchholz: 6, Ogando 1, Tazawa 1, Varvaro 1/3 – L
2. Porcello: 6, Breslow 2/3, Ogando 1/3, Tazawa 1, Uehara 1 – W
3. Masterson: 7, Barnes 2, Uehara 1/3 – L
4. Miley: 2 1/3, Varvaro 1 2/3, Ross 1, Hembree 1 1/3, Breslow 2/3, Mujica 1 – L
5. Kelly: 6, Ogando 2, Uehara 1 – W

Team: 2-3
Starters: 0-1, 27 1/3 IP, ERA 6.26, WHIP 1.317

1. Buchholz: 2 2/3, Mujica 1 1/3, Varvaro 1 1/3, Ross 1 2/3, Breslow 1 1/3, Tazawa 2/3 – L
2. Porcello: 7, Tazawa 1, Uehara 1 – W
3. Masterson: 6, Layne 1, Tazawa 1, Ross 1 – L
4. Miley: 7, Layne 2/3, Ogando 1 1/3 – L
5. Kelly: 4 2/3, Ross 1/3, Breslow 0, Mujica 2 2/3, Hinojosa 1 2/3 – L

Team: 1-4
Starters: 1-3, 27 1/3 IP, ERA 4.94, WHIP 1.317

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The results are extraordinarily mediocre

The only three-game winning streak for the team came at the end of the first tour of the rotation. The team suffered its first three-game losing streak thanks to a three-game sweep at the hands of the Yankees.

Totals five times through the rotation:

• Team: 12-13
• Starters: 7-9, 136 2/3 IP, ERA: 5.66, WHIP: 1.376, nine no-decisions

Name Age IP GS Wgs Lgs ND Wtm Ltm tmW-L% CG QS QS% IP/GS Pit/GS Max
Clay Buchholz 30 25.0 5 1 3 1 1 4 .200 0 3 60% 5.0 88 104
Joe Kelly 27 28.1 5 1 1 3 3 2 .600 0 1 20% 5.7 99 118
Justin Masterson 30 28.2 5 2 0 3 3 2 .600 0 3 60% 5.7 92 95
Wade Miley* 28 22.2 5 1 3 1 2 3 .400 0 1 20% 4.5 82 102
Rick Porcello 26 32.0 5 2 2 1 3 2 .600 0 3 60% 6.4 102 112
Team Total 29.6 25 7 9 9 12 13 .480 0 11 44% 5.5 93 118
Name Age IP GS Wgs Lgs ND Wtm Ltm tmW-L% CG QS QS% IP/GS Pit/GS Max
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/4/2015.
Name Age W L W-L% ERA CG IP H R ER HR BB SO BF WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
Rick Porcello 26 2 2 .500 5.34 0 32.0 30 20 19 6 10 29 137 1.250 8.4 2.8 8.2 2.90
Justin Masterson 30 2 0 1.000 4.71 0 28.2 27 15 15 1 12 22 127 1.360 8.5 3.8 6.9 1.83
Joe Kelly 27 1 1 .500 5.72 0 28.1 27 18 18 4 8 31 121 1.235 8.6 2.5 9.8 3.88
Clay Buchholz 30 1 3 .250 5.76 0 25.0 31 18 16 2 8 33 116 1.560 11.2 2.9 11.9 4.13
Wade Miley* 28 1 3 .250 7.15 0 22.2 24 19 18 1 11 13 101 1.544 9.5 4.4 5.2 1.18
Name Age W L W-L% ERA CG IP H R ER HR BB SO BF WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/4/2015.

Through 25 games, Boston led the majors with eight starts allowing at least five earned runs

• The Sox starters’ 136 2/3 IP is the seventh fewest in baseball
• The Sox starters’ 5.66 ERA is the second worst in baseball with only the Blue Jays’ 5.70 worse.
• The starters have allowed 90 runs, 86 earned
• The Sox starters’ 1.376 WHIP ranks 21st in baseball
• The starters .258 BAA is seventh in the AL
• The starters .225 BAA with bases empty is sixth in the AL
• The starters .308 BAA with runners on is 12th in the AL
• The starters .331 BAA with runners in scoring position is 14th in the AL

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The toll on the bullpen in those games, which in 92 IP, the second most in baseball, now has a .269 BAA, the second worst in baseball:

• Buchholz: 18 relievers used
• Porcello: 11 relievers used
• Masterson: 14 relievers used
• Miley: 22 relievers used
• Kelly: 15 relievers used

It doesn’t matter if the AL East is mediocre.

It doesn’t matter that the Sox have scored 5-plus runs in 14 games, because they have a 9-5 record in those games (the Dodgers are 14-0).

If the Red Sox starting pitching doesn’t start getting better, as opposed to getting worse, this season is going to get ugly faster than John Farrell can call the bullpen.

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