A large portion of baseball writers took the pre-season to declare the Red Sox as having one of the best pitching rotations in the league. Unfortunately predictions mean jack and the team is 26th in ERA, 22nd in walks allowed, and has given up more hits than anyone other than the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Last night, even though they pulled out a win, is a perfect example of Boston’s inconsistency on the mound. Josh Beckett started the game, gave up 8 runs in 3 innings, and was promptly yanked. The bullpen didn’t fare any better as they proceeded to give up 4 runs in the next 6 innings. For a team that is struggling desperately to get above .500, this isn’t going to cut it.
Clay Buchholz, who only has 37 career starts on his resume, has put up the best numbers of anyone in the rotation. In his 3 starts he’s only given up 5 earned runs while striking out 18 batters in 16.2 innings. On a roster with three high caliber aces that are all performing poorly, his contribution can’t be overlooked.
The largest bright spot in the pen is Manny Delcarmen who has managed to avoid bats this season by only giving up 2 hits in 10.1 innings. Yet even he has problems as he’s walked 6 guys and only struck out 3. These are the kind of statistics that mean he is only a bloop hit away from completely imploding.
What can Theo Epstein do to fix this problem? Is waiting out the storm a viable option? It’s not insane to think that Josh Beckett (averaging almost 2 base-runners an inning) and Jon Lester (averaging over 5 walks per game) can return to their ace forms. The problem is that this may not happen until June and by then the team could have dug themselves a huge hole. With the mediocre offense that the Red Sox have, they need their pitching to perform well and perform NOW.
The bullpen has their own share of issues. Jonathan Papelbon is currently averaging a career high in walks per inning as well as a career low in strikeouts per inning. Daniel Bard has already appeared in 11 games, pitching well in most of them, but his arm is going to fall off if this pace continues.
Epstein made his first move today as he optioned pitcher Scott Atchison to Pawtucket and called up left-hander Fabio Castro. Atchison had a 6.10 ERA in 7 appearances this season. He really struggled with giving up the long ball by allowing 3 home runs in his limited time.
Castro is 24 years old, 5’7″ and was signed as a free agent over the offseason. Hopefully he should be able to provide some relief after last night’s debacle. If not, at least he’ll provide some self confidence to Dustin Pedroia (like he needed any) by becoming the shortest man on the team.
Castro’s best year came in 2006 while splitting time with the Phillies and the Rangers: