June 06, 2013 by
Felix Doubront has gotten out of the funk he had to start the season.
At the start of this season I said Felix Doubront was the most important young player on the Red Sox. After a sub par April, I still felt the same way. He may have been 3-0 in the month but he was throwing too many pitches and wasn’t going deep into games which was taxing on the bullpen. His month of May started much of the same giving up six runs in each of his first two starts and not getting out of the sixth innings. Since Franklin Morales began rehab as a starting pitcher Doubront has performed the way I thought he could. In his last four starts he has surrendered no more than two earned runs while facing the Yankees and Indians along the way. Maybe the thought of him losing his job in the rotation had a positive effect. Since he was put in the bullpen for a game in which he was used quickly after Allen Webster couldn’t get out of the second inning against the Twins, he has looked like a man on a mission.
With John Lackey performing well after a year off from Tommy John Surgery, Doubront should have some extra motivation not to be the under performer of the staff. Even Ryan Dempster after a few rough starts had a good night on Monday with seven solid innings against the Rangers. The Rangers offense might not be what it once was with Josh Hamilton but they still pack some punch. Speaking of Hamilton, Doubront’s next start comes against his new team the Angels on Friday night at Fenway.
Every starting pitcher has some bumps in the road during the season, let us Sox fans hope Doubront’s bumps are now out of the way early. Jon Lester is going through somewhat of a tough time right now giving up four or more runs in his last three starts and eight walks combined. We know Lester is somewhat of a nibbler when it comes to the strike zone and when he doesn’t get the calls he wants it takes a toll on him. He is on the mound tonight against the Rangers opposite fellow lefty Derek Holland. Maybe this will be the start Lester turns it around as this month is a tough stretch and the team will need Lester to be a stopper.
1.62. That is the ERA of Red Sox righty Clay Buchholz. We knew Buchholz had the talent going into the last few seasons. After all this is a pitcher who threw a no hitter in his rookie year. Some pitchers throw no hitters and disappear from the radar. Sure Buchholz had his ups and downs but now he has settled down with a manager he apparently fears in John Farrell. He goes out there and pitches and pitches effectively. What more could the Red Sox ask for? Just stay healthy.
With the Sox starters going into the sixth inning and beyond the bullpen has had time to rest after a busy month of April. Andrew Bailey has only pitched in four games since his return from the disabled list. This could be good and bad as he has only had one save opportunity to get himself back into the closer role he was doing well with before his trip to the disabled list. Junichi Tazawa has looked good back to his setup role. The Red Sox now have three lefties in the pen with Andrew Miller, Craig Breslow, and Franklin Morales. John Farrell will have plenty of pitchers to play with matchups in the later innings if the opposing manager wants to get into a game of left/right. Alex Wilson after a successful stint with the club was sent down to Pawtucket being the odd man out when Morales returned and having options. Clayton Mortensen’s time may be running out giving up runs in three of his last five appearances.
The Red Sox have a tough stretch coming up with series against the Angels, Rays, Orioles, Rays, and Tigers over the next three weeks. If they can finish over .500 during that stretch they will be in the drivers seat to closing out the month June. June is an important month on the calendar as winning teams begin to separate themselves from the other teams and some team begin to make moves to their club hoping to catch lightning in a bottle. If Will Middlebrooks and Shane Victorino can return healthy and be effective the Sox will be one of those teams at the top of the American League.
May 20, 2013 by
Dustin Pedroia scores from a Jonny Gomes sac fly Friday night.
Last week at this time the Red Sox were losers of five of six and heading to Tampa Bay for a three game set with the pesky Rays. After losing to Matt Moore on Tueday the Red Sox have not missed a beat. Wednesday’s game David Price left early with an injury and the Sox pounced on the Rays bullpen winning 9-2 highlighted by a Stephen, don’t call me J.D. Drew grand slam. Thursday’s game was much more drama filled as the Sox were down to their last strike with the bases loaded and Will Middlebrooks drove a Fernando Rodney pitch to the left field wall to clear the bases and win the game 4-3. Getting to the Tampa Bay bullpen is not an easy task. They always seem to develop great young arms and stockpile them in the bullpen if their rotation is full of other young guns. The Red Sox scored off the bullpen and took the series. Winning series has taken upon a bigger role this season I feel with the Sox. If you can take two of three from a good team you are a good team.
This weekend the Red Sox traveled to Minnesota and had some lengthy games to say the least. All games were over three and a half hours. All games were won by the Red Sox though. Friday night’s game was won 3-2 by a game winning sac fly from Jonny Gomes scoring Dustin Pedroia in the 10th inning. Alex Wilson got his first major league win in relief and Koji Uehara got his first save in a Red Sox uniform. The Red Sox have made Vance Worley owner of a 6.02 ERA look like a Cy Young candidate twice in the last week only being able to get four runs off him in two starts.
Saturday’s game was a game of offense as the teams combined for 25 hits in a 12-5 Red Sox win. David Ortiz homered twice bringing his season total to seven. Daniel Nava also added his sixth homer of the season with a late inning insurance run. Ryan Dempster however only lasted 4 and two third innings walking six. Dempster has had some stinkers lately but, he has been a beneficiary of good run support. Craig Breslow got his first win of the season in relief and has looked good after the first month on the disabled list. Of late him and Andrew Miller have combined to look great out of the pen from the left side and if Franklin Morales comes back as a reliever the Sox will pack some punch in the late innings.
Sunday’s game was interrupted by a three hour rain delay in the seventh inning with the Red Sox leading 3-1. I for one would hate to see my team lose after a three hour rain delay. There were probably less than 400 fans at Target Field when the game resumed. The Sox got some insurance runs after the rain delay from a Dustin Pedroia two run home run off of left fielder Josh Willingham’s glove in the top of the ninth that scaled the wall and just got over and the Sox took the game 5-1 and finished off the sweep. John Lackey gave up only one hit in his six innings of work and got his second win on the season. He admitted to wanting to pitch longer only having 84 pitches after the six innings but when the rain delay struck the Sox weren’t going to throw him back out there after three hours which is the right decision. Lackey won’t have starts like this all the time giving up only one hit but, he has looked good since being sidelined early with a forearm injury.
Fresh off the sweep the Red Sox head to Chicago for a three game set with the White Sox. Andrew Bailey will be activated in time for tonight’s game and expect him to retake that closer role back from Junichi Tazawa. Manager John Farrell does not expect to use Bailey in back to back games right away however until he feels more comfortable. Tazawa will go back to his role of middle relief which is where he was greatly effective early on in the season. If the team needs a big out in the 6th of 7th now they can go to him, without fear of needing someone for the 9th.
Junichi Tazawa will relinquish the closer role back to Andrew Bailey on Monday.
Jon Lester gets the ball tonight opposite of righty Dylan Axelrod. Lester is looking to go 7-0 on the season. Tomorrow is a big start for Felix Doubront. The team is having Franklin Morales pitch in rehab games as if he is a starter. This of course points out that the team might not have too much faith in Doubront. Doubront is 3-1 on the season however he has a 6.02 ERA. Wins and loses don’t always tell the story about a pitcher. Doubront will face fellow lefty Jose Quintana. The marquee matchup of the series is on Wednesday as Clay Buchholz will oppose White Sox lefty Chris Sale. Both have pitched like aces this season and runs will be hard to come by on Wednesday night.
What a difference a week makes as the Sox went from losers of five of six to now winners of five of six. They get their closer back tonight and will look to continue on with a successful road trip. The offense has looked good since John Farrell said he was sticking with his lineup and it was not time to panic. Showing faith in the team must have gave the players some confidence to work with. Every team slumps but it’s how you get out of those slumps that matter. This week the Sox want to finish this road trip the way they started.
May 05, 2013 by
Buchholz and his nasty stuff has paced the Sox rotation
The Red Sox had the best record in baseball in April, going 18-8 in the first month of the season. It was their best start since 2003 and the first time since 2009 that they had more than 11 wins in April. The turn-around from the cumbersome starts of the last 3 years has been fueled by a resurgence of the Red Sox starting pitching, which had been rendered inept during the September collapse of 2011 and stagnated throughout all of last season.
Entering play on Saturday the Red Sox were 7th in the major league in ERA at 3.54. Their starting staff was 5th in the majors with a 3.29 ERA. They’ve been relatively healthy so far this season, only missing 2 starts from John Lackey from an injury that looked much worse than it ended up being in his first start of the season. Alfredo Aceves had 1 solid start and one truly putrid one that landed him in Pawtucket and youngster Allen Webster even contributed a solid start in the night cap of a double header. He was in line for a win before the Sox’ bullpen gave up the lead.
The Red Sox starting pitching success begins and ends with the dominance of a resurgent Clay Buchholz. Setting aside the side show created by the hacks up in Toronto Buchholz has been, in a word, dominant. He is 6-0 with a 1.01 ERA. He’s struck out 47 and walked 16. He’s thrown 44 2/3 innings so far this year, 7 innings more than Jon Lester who is #2 on the squad in innings thrown. With Buchholz’s past durability issues there may be some worries about this workload but as long as it’s working you can’t complain. Contrary to the conspiracy theories Buchholz has been absolutely pounding the strike zone, painting the corners and leaving opposing hitters with the bat on their shoulders. His 37% strike looking and 53% strikeout looking ratios are substantially higher than the major league average. This is at odds with spitball pitchers who make a living throwing junk with late movement that hitters go out of the strike zone to chase. Long story short, Buchholz is not cheating, he’s just pitching incredibly well.
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April 25, 2013 by
We are all lead to believe Alfredo Aceves has played his last game in a Red Sox uniform.
With the Oakland A’s coming to town this week after the Red Sox had an emotional weekend series with the Kansas City Royals, the Sox were looking for one more start out of Alfredo Aceves before turning it back to John Lackey hopefully this Sunday. It could not have gone worse. A rain shortened seven inning game which the Red Sox lost 13-0 with Aceves not getting out of the 4th inning. Aceves walked four, gave up eight runs, seven of them earned. Obviously this performance was something no team is looking for when it comes to starting pitching.
After the game Aceves seemed to have a grip on the situation wondering why his team wasn’t hitting. Can’t blame the weather Alfredo, Bartolo Colon pitched all seven innings and allowed no runs. Apparently Colon messed up the mound on Aceves and had it filled in the third inning. Comparing two performances is not hard to do when the weather is the same for both of them. Everyone saw the conditions, you would have had to pay me to go to that game.
Aceves known for his crazy personality has had multiple run ins already this year. In early spring training he was lobbing balls into hitters when pitchers were supposed to be giving it a full go. In the World Baseball Classic he was a part of the brawl between Team Mexico and Team Canada. Larry Walked was quoted as saying he, “saw Satan” in Aceves’ eyes. After the Classic, Aceves entered a game against the Rays and hit Sean Rodriguez with a pitch, almost causing another brawl. Entering the season Aceves started as the long man in the bullpen. John Lackey got hurt in his first start and Aceves stepped in to make three starts, never lasting more than five innings. Is he a starter? Is he a reliever?
Right now Aceves is a minor leaguer. After Wednesday’s 6-5 win over Oakland the Red Sox optioned him to Triple A Pawtucket. Aceves has 72 hours to report to Pawtucket. The likelihood of him reporting I really don’t know. Him taking this demotion well is not something I expect. The Red Sox are trying to get something for him by holding onto him instead of outright releasing him. He was not good in the clubhouse as we saw. Hopefully he doesn’t infect the Pawtucket clubhouse as well, having young players who are trying to reach the big leagues. The team is making an example of him, who not to be like. Manager John Farrell said the demotion is solely performance based, but I feel it is not. See how long he can stay down there and not flip a gasket, until you can trade him to a team in need of a reliever for some value.
After a spring training full of incidents I feel Aceves made the team only because of injuries to the bullpen with Craig Breslow and Franklin Morales down. Now that the team sent him to the minor leagues I believe Alfredo Aceves has played his last game in a Red Sox uniform. Alex Wilson has looked good in a few appearances and the team recently called up Daniel Bard from Double A Portland. With Bard passing Aceves on the depth chart that truly tells you something. Alfredo it was nice knowing you. He was one of the few players who looked to be trying in the horrible collapse of September 2011. This years Red Sox are different though, no nonsense, no clubhouse problems. It’s a Red Sox team I like to watch.
March 29, 2013 by
We’re just 3 days from the most anticipated Red Sox opening day since the Butch Hobson era and the Sox have set their final opening day roster with one exception. Before the conspiracy theorists start on the lack of a Jackie Bradley Jr. announcement, it is because the Sox have to jettison someone from the 40-man roster to make room for him and they are taking a bit of time to make that decision (which makes since if you can’t trade someone to open up the spot you must put them on waivers and risk losing them for nothing if they are claimed). Here’s a look at the 25 guys that the Red Sox will break camp with and the major league contributors who will start the year on the disabled list.
Lester needs to pitch like an ace for the Sox this year
Starting Pitchers: Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Ryan Dempster, Felix Doubront, John Lackey – If spring training is any indication this unit is headed for a bounce back season. Lester and Buchholz have both put up ERAs under 0.80 in 6 starts each this spring. Ryan Dempster has put up a 3.06 ERA himself. If the top three can carry their weight then the Red Sox should win well more than 69 games this season. The last two spots are wild cards. Doubront pitched well early last season but the workload caught up to him. He was OK in the spring, sporting a 4.15 ERA, but he’s going to have to show more durability and consistency. Then there is John Lackey who we’ve already discussed to death this spring. He had a 5.40 ERA in the spring but pitched better as time went on. He is coming off of a year of inactivity so he should get better as the year progresses. How much better is the question. It’s not hard to evaluate this group – they’ll live and die by the contributions of Lester and Buchholz. If the results are similar to last year’s then the Sox have no chance at competing. If they are their old selves then they should be in the thick of things.
Aceves should be an asset as the long man as long as he doesn’t have a mental breakdown
Relief Pitchers – Joel Hanrahan, Andrew Bailey, Koji Uehera, Junichi Tazawa, Clayton Mortensen, Andrew Miller, Alfredo Aceves – This is an interesting group. There may be concerns about the back end. Hanrahan has a 7.36 spring ERA but he hasn’t given up a hit in his last 4 1/3. On paper athe back end of the rotation should be lights out. Bailey is pitching better this spring but he didn’t exactly light the world on fire after he came back from injury last year. These two guys have the potential to be a lights out duo but that seems like a big if right now. It’s hard not to like the rest of the right handers in the pen. Uehera pounds the strike zone and barely walks anyone (call him the anti-Daniel Bard). Tazawa and Mortensen pitched well in the majors last year. Tazawa had a 1.43 ERA and 0.95 WHIP and Mortensen a 3.21 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP. Both guys can be stretched out if need be. Aceves is probably more than just a few cards short of a full deck (I’m a bit concerned that he’ll seek revenge on the Canadians by braining the first Blue Jays batter he sees with a fastball) but he’s back in a role where he has performed the best – long and middle relief. Beyond all the craziness the guy is very versatile. Miller is a weak left-handed arm in my opinion but he’s holding a place for Craig Breslow and Franklin Morales.
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February 20, 2013 by
Pedro works with Daniel Bard in Ft. Myers
When word came out last month that the Red Sox were hiring Pedro Martinez to serve as a special assistant to GM Ben Cherington there was a lot of skepticism within Red Sox Nation. The news broke within days of the leaking of excerpts from Terry Francona’s new book co-written by Dan Shaughnessy that cast a negative light on the Red Sox ownership. Many said it was a face-saving move by the club but if they had been paying attention they’d have known that Pedro himself had talked about returning to the Red Sox as early as early December at David Ortiz’s golf tournament. And if they were paying attention they’d also know that Pedro Martinez didn’t come back just to get an easy pay check.
Say what you will about Pedro Martinez and his diva attitude but one thing you can’t deny is that the guy was a workhorse. After all you don’t become the most dominant pitcher of your era at 5’11″ and 195 lbs. without working your ass off. He’s also likely forgotten more about pitching than most of us will ever learn. And after 3 years away from baseball Pedro has gotten that itch to return and give back to the game that let him accomplish so much in his career. It was a win-win situation for both Pedro and the Red Sox. Pedro gets to do what he loves in a place that he loves and the Red Sox get a organizational mentor that they have been lacking for the past several years.
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