The Boston Red Sox are coming off a rather disappointing ending of their season last year. Although they won the division in 2017, they finished last in the American League in home runs hit. Even though the offense put themselves in good scoring situations it seemed as though they could never get the big hit. Fast forward to the 2018 offseason and the Red Sox add J.D. Martinez to center a very balanced lineup, seemingly solving some of their power struggles.
Now the season is underway, and like the 2017 season, the Red Sox are off to a solid start. At the same time, it looks eerily similar to the Red Sox we saw last season.
The Boston Red Sox have had four starting pitchers throw so far this season: Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello and Hector Velazquez (arguably not an ace).
Those four have combined to throw 24 innings, walking just five, giving up just two runs and striking out 23. The total ends up being a 0.75 earned run average. They also combined for a 3-0 record to start and just five total walks and barring an Opening Day meltdown the starters would be 4-0. Although it is against the Tampa Bay Rays, it is the first time in the team’s history that the starting pitchers in the first four games have allowed a run or less in each outing.
The starters have done exactly what the did a vast majority of last season only they have done it more effectively so far. They are giving the offense a chance to hit without putting them in a hole and then having the bullpen close the door.
The Heart Attack Bullpen:
It’s never easy when the ball is handed to the Red Sox bullpen. Although effective, they normally make it much more stressful than it needs to be. Opening Night was a perfect example.
Joe Kelly, coming off a career season, kicked off a nightmare of an eighth by getting just one out and giving up four earned runs. Carson Smith assisted that Eighth by getting two outs and giving up two runs himself, which would end up being the difference in the game in the end.
On Easter Sunday, Joe Kelly had a different outcome but still made Red Sox fans oh so nervous. He came into the ninth up 2-1 in the game and looking for his first save of the season. After getting two quick outs, he gave up back to back singles before finally striking out Dennard Span to end the game.
Waiting on some struggling pieces:
Two of the Red Sox “Killer B’s” have combined for just one hit in 21 plate appearances. Both Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr. are important pieces in a very strong offense.
The two hit .271 and .245 respectively last season and Benintendi came in second in A.L. Rookie of the Year voting. Although Bradley is known more for his tremendous glove, he is still a streaky hitter and can more than hold his own at the plate. If it’s anything like Mookie Betts’ struggles, they will be just fine. Mookie went 0-17 to start spring training. Despite a struggling bat then, he is hitting .286 now and has been hitting the ball hard in his outs.
Another piece that is somewhat struggling is the newest addition. J.D. Martinez is hitting just .200 to start the year. He five strikeouts compared to just three hits in 15 plate appearances to start the season. He was held hitless until the third game of the season and didn’t look comfortable yet in his new location.
I think that the pressure on J.D. is that he is supposed to be the homerun guy on the Red Sox. It’s not that he’s playing badly, it’s that fans expect him to have the power numbers they thought they paid for this winter.
The Red Sox have two home runs this season so far. One was an inside the park home run on a defensive mistake and the other was by a guy who finished last season with 10 total home runs. The Red Sox offense will need to pick up the pace as the season moves forward because there will be days in the near future where the aces have off nights.
Featured image from The Boston Herald.
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