In comes the ‘Sawx at 29-27 and in 3rd place in the American League East. Although to be fair, their runs scored versus runs allowed suggests their record should be a little better than that. Of course, we all know that the .518 winning percentage isn’t anywhere near the .678 winning percentage they posted last season – so what gives?
Interestingly, Boston’s 5.41 runs scored per game is exactly the same as last season’s. Their defensive efficiency (percentage of balls in play converted into outs) is virtually identical to last season as well: .693 in 2018 to .694 in 2019, both 12th best in MLB.
So they’re scoring runs and catching the ball at the same level as last season when they were the best team in baseball. So, yeah…you don’t need to be a professor at MIT to figure out what the problem is, but I’m going to tell you anyway:
Their pitching was top shelf last season, this season it is not.
Even though their defense has been more or less the same, they’re allowing almost one run more per game on average compared to last year (3.99 in ’18, 4.82 in ’19). You don’t have to look further than the usual suspects: Their pitchers aren’t missing as many bats as last year while issuing more free passes (the staff’s K/BB ratio is down almost 10%) while also giving up more long balls (HR % per at bat is up almost 10%).
But I wouldn’t throw dust on the Fenway mound coffin quite yet…
Despite the notion that Sale and Porcello have been bad, they have not. They haven’t been as good as normal, but needless to say, their track records suggest they’ll improve. See also; Rodriguez, Eduardo.
You can also forget the notion that they sorely miss Joe Kelly, Steven Wright, and Craig Kimbrel. Ryan Brasier, Heath Hembree, Brandon Workman, and Matt Barnes have all been good out of the pen this season.
Of course, they miss Nathan Eovaldi but remember this is the Red Sox. In addition to expected improvements from Sale, Porcello, and Rodriguez, they can and will make a move for a starter and bullpen depth in about 8 weeks.
I am not a prophet. But if I were, I think this weekend’s series will go a long way toward determining the ’19 AL East standings. In October, we may very well look back at this weekend and say either “The Yankees buried them when they were down” or “Boston turned the corner”.
Did I miss something? Let me know.
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