Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Red Sox Rollercoaster

The one thing Boston has been consistent about in 2015 is being consistently good on defense. The Red Sox have hovered between 8th and 10th for team fielding across all 30 teams all season. That, and a bizarrely weak AL East, are the two reasons that Boston sits in fourth place and yet just 2.5 games out of first.

Other than that, it's been impossible to guess which Boston team will show up. Is it the team that pounded the Angels and took two of three games? Is it the team that pitched well but couldn't score any runs, like the one that dropped two games to the Rangers? Or is it the team that couldn't do anything well, like the one that lost to the Twins 7-2 on Memorial Day?

What is most disappointing about yesterday's defeat is not that it derailed what looked like a bit of momentum for Boston, but that it sent Joe Kelly back to Square One. In his last two starts he had gone six innings or longer and surrendered two runs or less in each. It looked like he had found his groove.

Then yesterday he gives up seven runs in less than two innings and the game is over before it begins. It was his worst outing of the season. And it is becoming painfully clear that this is closer to the Joe Kelly we can expect than that guy from the previous two starts.

The question isn't "How do you fix Joe Kelly?" It is "How much longer do you wait on sending him to Pawtucket?" Brian Johnson and Eduardo Rodriguez are waiting in the wings. Rodriguez is the better player, but at 22 you may not want to rush him in yet. Johnson is older (24) and even if his upside isn't as high, he is probably more prepared for Boston than his younger battery mate.

I would personally pull the trigger on this now, rather than ride out one more Kelly start. Especially since other pitchers in Boston seem to have figured things out. Like Wade Miley.

In his last three starts Miley has given up a total of three earned runs. He has gone six innings or more in all three starts. He has allowed no home runs. His ERA is now 4.47, the lowest it has been since April 10. He has figured something out, and now we are seeing the Miley that Cherington expected when he traded for him last year. Hopefully he can continue on this path and provide the rotation with some added stability.

Meanwhile, Boston's bats continue to have trouble generating consistent power. As of right now, no Boston starter has an OPS of .800 or higher. Only one starter has an OBP of .350 or higher (Pedroia at .360). In Runs Created per 27 Outs (RC27) Pedroia has the highest number for Boston at 5.39, which is good for 32nd in the AL East. He is the only Boston player in the AL Top 40. Boston is one of only two AL teams to have a single representative in that list. Seattle is the other, but their guy is Nelson Cruz, who leads the list at 10.30 and basically counts as two players.

Until Boston's hitters get out of their funk, it really doesn't matter how well Miley pitches or how lousy Kelly pitches. If you aren't putting runs on the board, you are going to lose a lot more than you win.

But Kelly sure isn't helping.

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