Boston… You have a problem
Remember back in March when writers and fans were raving about the impeccable pitching depth that the Red Sox had? Ben Reiter, in his “Spring Postcard” for Boston, wrote, “they’ve got what has to be the deepest starting pitching corps in the majors. After the set-in-stone top four of Josh Beckett, Matsuzaka, Lester and Wakefield, they’ll have the luxury of choosing from new additions Brad Penny and John Smoltz, as well as Justin Masterson and Clay Buchholz“. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, their pitching depth has virtually disappeared, which is bad news considering their recent 6 game losing streak (4 to the Yankees), 8-14 record after the All-Star break, 6.5 game deficit in the AL East, and tie in the Wild Card standings. So let’s break down the rotation.
The top spot in the rotation is still owned by Josh Beckett. Beckett is having another great year for the Sox, going 13-4 with a 3.12 ERA, a 1.13 WHIP, and a 3.39 K/BB. The Sox have not lost anything in their number one. Same goes for their number 2 (number 3 in March), John Lester. The 25 year old is 9-7 with a 3.67 ERA, a 1.27 WHIP, and a 3.59 K/BB. He is having another solid season for the Sox. After number two, things get a little dicey for the Sox. Tim Wakefield, questionable All-Star, was 11-3 with a 4.31 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in 17 starts, landed on the 15 day DL with a lower back strain. Matsuzaka has been abysmal this season with an 8.23 ERA and 2.20 WHIP in 8 starts. He is on the 60 day DL with a shoulder injury. So what used to be a solid top 4 is now a solid top 2 with question marks all the way down. Brad Penny, who was supposed to be in competition for the 5 slot, is not pitching up to snuff. His ERA is at a miserable 5.20, and his WHIP is at 1.48. These are clearly not number 3 type stats. Clay Buchholz, one of the Sox top prospects, isn’t pitching very well himself. His ERA is above 5 as well (5.33) and his WHIP is up in the stratosphere (1.97). He, like Penny, was supposed to be in the conversation for the 5th starter. The fifth starter now is Junichi Tazawa, who has only pitched 1.2 IP in the majors this year. He gave up 2 runs, 4 hits, and a game-winning HR in the outing. John Smoltz has been DFA’d after pitching rather terribly (8.32 ERA and 1.70 WHIP through 8 starts). The other potential number 5, Justin Masterson, was traded to the Indians in exchange for Victor Martinez, which has not turned out so badly for the Red Sox so far.
So what can they do now? Even with Wakefield coming off the DL soon, they will still have 2 spots that will be in no way secure. They can look for a waiver deal. According to MLBTR, Arroyo and Harang have cleared waivers, but they are so insanely overpaid. As for internal solutions, Michael Bowden has been pitching well in AAA. He has a 3.40 ERA in 20 starts. I guess we’ll see what happens, but the Red Sox certainly need to sure up their rotation if they want to make the playoffs.