Poor Pitching Sinking Sox

Filed in Sports by on April 24, 2010 0 Comments

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For all the talk about the struggling Red Sox offense, you’d think that was the reason why the restructured team is off to such a miserable start this season.

Actually, though, it’s Boston’s starting pitchers who have the team off to a subpar 7-10 start.

Boston pitchers have a cumulative ERA of 4.53 on the season, the third worst average in the league. Only the basement-dwelling Royals and White Sox have statistically worse pitching staffs.

Entering Friday night’s game against the Orioles, Jon Lester was giving up an average of 8+ runs per nine innings. His 5 2/3 innings of scoreless pitching in that game still only brought his ERA down to 6.23. Every other starter—with the exception of Clay Buchholz—has an ERA over five. Five!

There is no way a team can win games when their starting pitchers can’t last through the sixth inning without giving up a handful of runs. Early departures by the starters puts significant strain on the bullpen—more innings means more sore arms means worse pitching.

So far, the bullpen has been fairly reliable, with a few glaring exceptions. But if they are continually counted on to bail out struggling starters, their performance will surely decline.

Of course, any statistics are heavily skewed so early on in the season. Heading into the season, the Red Sox boasted perhaps the strongest starting rotation in baseball, so they should fare better over the course of the year. Yet the fact that every starter, Buchholz included, has pitched at least one awful game is certainly a cause for concern.

That concern is also amplified by the fact that Boston’s lopsided losses came against the league’s powerhouse teams—the Yankees, Twins, and Rays. If the Red Sox can’t bounce back and compete with the best of the best, it’s going be a long, painful season.

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