March/April: Red Sox discussion, observations and trend tracking...AKA It's not all about the Benjamins

They are going to need Story to hit, and get sufficient offense out Duran/Rafaela/Grissom…lot of question marks over 162.
Clearly true, but at least after this series one doesn't have to squint to see how this team could make a legitimate playoff push if things do go right. I still think it's way more likely that they end up on the outside looking in, but despite the lack of FA signings I'm more optimistic now than I was a month ago.
 

thepriceisright

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I know it's super early, but perhaps the biggest upgrade this season is Bailey for Bush.

Pitch selection is different. Velocity is up. Interesting.
This honestly might have been the best thing to see this first series. Bello, for example, got killed last year when he used his 4-seamer, but he seemed to continue going to it regardless. Don't think he threw any on Thursday.
 

RS2004foreever

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They are going to need Story to hit, and get sufficient offense out Duran/Rafaela/Grissom…lot of question marks over 162.
Boston may struggle at times scoring runs. A significant portion of the lineup has a year or less of experience. Casas was very good last year, but players sometimes struggle in their second year as the league adjusts. We don't really know what we have with Story at this point either and though O'Neill has looked great he is to some degree an unknown as well.
Career Plate Appearances
Rafaela - 101
Abreu - 83
Valdez - 149
Wong - 480
Grissom - 597
Casas - 597
Duran - 715
 

chawson

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I know it's super early, but perhaps the biggest upgrade this season is Bailey for Bush.

Pitch selection is different. Velocity is up. Interesting.
It’s almost like they did do something to address the rotation.

This team’s been really fun to watch this series — against a really solid M’s team — and already seems to have a lot of character and camaraderie. I’m excited for Grissom to get healthy and join them, though I also want more Manu!

One question I’m paying attention to is just how monstrous is the bat of Tyler O’Neill. Is he like a Renfroe/Duvall type or is he better than that? I’m cautiously optimistic he’s better.
 

Fishy1

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It’s almost like they did do something to address the rotation.

This team’s been really fun to watch this series — against a really solid M’s team — and already seems to have a lot of character and camaraderie. I’m excited for Grissom to get healthy and join them, though I also want more Manu!

One question I’m paying attention to is just how monstrous is the bat of Tyler O’Neill. Is he like a Renfroe/Duvall type or is he better than that? I’m cautiously optimistic he’s better.
His last couple partial seasons, his numbers were suppressed some by a BABIP sub .290. I'd think he can do a sight better than that given his speed. Question is if he'll be healthy all year. I doubt we get 2021 O'Neill, but if that's in the cards, giddy up.
 

Fishy1

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Boston may struggle at times scoring runs. A significant portion of the lineup has a year or less of experience. Casas was very good last year, but players sometimes struggle in their second year as the league adjusts. We don't really know what we have with Story at this point either and though O'Neill has looked great he is to some degree an unknown as well.
Career Plate Appearances
Rafaela - 101
Abreu - 83
Valdez - 149
Wong - 480
Grissom - 597
Casas - 597
Duran - 715
Is the sophomore slump thing purely anecdotal, or is there any evidence for it out in the world? I can't seem to find any. Some arguments that it's mostly BABIP regression in many famous cases of great rookie seasons.

Here's last year's rookies and their BABIP's:

80292

Plenty of room for regression here, especially from Wilyer. I could easily see Valdez and Rafaela posting BABIPs around .330 though, given how hard they hit the ball. Casas and Yoshida are just about where I'd expect them to be. That said, any or all of these guys could see their BABIP tank. Luck, fielding, these play a role.

And for good measure, Grissom:
80293

And Wong:

80294

Definitely some room for regression, depending on these guy's "true" BABIP talent. Grissom is a guy with excellent bat to ball skills -- maybe his true BABIP is around .340. Wong, on the other hand... a .341 BABIP producing a .235 batting average has to mostly just be the fact that he strikes out at a Dalbecian rate.
 

tims4wins

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Unbelievable start from the rotation. Night and day from last year.

I do have one slight concern that those 4 starts only yielded 22 IP despite the phenomenal results. It's obviously only the first series of the year, so we should expect that to change over the course of the year. But when the starters are pitching that well, the Sox are going to need them going 6+ innings. Otherwise the meh and bad starts will yield even fewer innings, and tax the bullpen even more.
 

Cassvt2023

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I'm thinking that with a young team like this one, starting out on a road trip on the West Coast could turn out to be a really good thing. The chemistry that they seem to have in the early going appears real, and that can certainly carry over. A lot of guys on here said that they wanted to have a team that is fun to watch play baseball and I think we've got that. Taking 2 out of 3 from A's and Angels seems like a very real possibility and would bode well coming back to Boston to celebrate the 2004 team and honor the Wakefields.
 

Fishy1

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Unbelievable start from the rotation. Night and day from last year.

I do have one slight concern that those 4 starts only yielded 22 IP despite the phenomenal results. It's obviously only the first series of the year, so we should expect that to change over the course of the year. But when the starters are pitching that well, the Sox are going to need them going 6+ innings. Otherwise the meh and bad starts will yield even fewer innings, and tax the bullpen even more.
Noted in the other thread, but some of this seems deliberate. Not a single one of the starters threw more than 84 pitches. Could have squeezed another inning out of each and every one of them but Cora opted not to. Probably just looking to protect their arms of this team's most wobbly asset, the starting pitching, in the early-going.

I'll add that this team has a lot of relievers to soak up innings, and guys like Bernardino, Kelly, Luetge, and Guerrero -- two of whom have been very good pitchers at the major league level -- down in AAA who can shuttle up and down if anyone goes down or if the bullpen gets thin. Campbell and Weissert both have options still, as does Winckowski, so if the pitching gets really worn out, they can come up in a pitch. (or did MLB change the rules to make that more difficult? google isn't turning anything up).

Team also hasn't had to use Chase Anderson yet.
 
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Rovin Romine

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Unbelievable start from the rotation. Night and day from last year.

I do have one slight concern that those 4 starts only yielded 22 IP despite the phenomenal results. It's obviously only the first series of the year, so we should expect that to change over the course of the year. But when the starters are pitching that well, the Sox are going to need them going 6+ innings. Otherwise the meh and bad starts will yield even fewer innings, and tax the bullpen even more.
First time through the rotation as you point out.

Comparing this year to prior years is going to be complicated when considering effectiveness. Sometimes you pull a guy early if they're struggling, etc., and we all know that these pitchers ran into various troubles in 2023 and could not go as deep as everyone would have liked. But in terms of arm strength, I think the prior year pitch counts suggest they all quite comfortably have another inning or two in them, even if they were now theoretically throwing "harder" in exchange through moving through lineups more efficiently (no walks).

Bello 2024 - pulled after 84 pitches.
2023 - 68, 82, 84, 87, 100, 107, 98, 97. . .

Pivetta 2024 - pulled 84 pitches.
2023 - 87, 83, 99, 100, 100, 94, 90, 98 . . .(And he has a multi year track record of this.)

Whitlock 2024 - pulled 81 pitches.
2023 - 85, 99, 81, 92, 97, 88, 92. . .(and that's punctuated with some IL stints)

Houck 2024?
2023 - 70, 74, 90, 96, 86, 96, 74. . .

Crawford 2024 - pulled 84 pitches.
2023 - all over the map as he was yoinked around. His July/Aug starts were in the 70s/80s (starter drought), and Sept. had 3 starts in the low 90s.
 

YTF

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Unbelievable start from the rotation. Night and day from last year.

I do have one slight concern that those 4 starts only yielded 22 IP despite the phenomenal results. It's obviously only the first series of the year, so we should expect that to change over the course of the year. But when the starters are pitching that well, the Sox are going to need them going 6+ innings. Otherwise the meh and bad starts will yield even fewer innings, and tax the bullpen even more.
These days innings pitched is usually dictated by the pitch count. The first couple of games 85-90 pitches is likely to be the absolute limit for most guys and some might not get that. One rough inning like Whitlock had yesterday can see you at half of your targeted pitch count after just a couple of innings. You're not wrong about needing guys to pitch into the 6th on a fairly regular basis and at times into the 7th and 8th to give the pen a break. Tough to do in the early going, but hopefully in the next few weeks we'll see pitchers pushing that 100 pitch mark.
 

tims4wins

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Noted in the other thread, but some of this seems deliberate. Not a single one of the starters threw more than 84 pitches. Could have squeezed another inning out of each and every one of them but Cora opted not to. Probably just looking to protect their arms in the early-going.
First time through the rotation as you point out.

Comparing this year to prior years is going to be complicated when considering effectiveness. Sometimes you pull a guy early if they're struggling, etc., and we all know that these pitchers ran into various troubles in 2023 and could not go as deep as everyone would have liked. But in terms of arm strength, I think the prior year pitch counts suggest they all quite comfortably have another inning or two in them, even if they were now theoretically throwing "harder" in exchange through moving through lineups more efficiently (no walks).

Bello 2024 - pulled after 84 pitches.
2023 - 68, 82, 84, 87, 100, 107, 98, 97. . .

Pivetta 2024 - pulled 84 pitches.
2023 - 87, 83, 99, 100, 100, 94, 90, 98 . . .(And he has a multi year track record of this.)

Whitlock 2024 - pulled 81 pitches.
2023 - 85, 99, 81, 92, 97, 88, 92. . .(and that's punctuated with some IL stints)

Houck 2024?
2023 - 70, 74, 90, 96, 86, 96, 74. . .

Crawford 2024 - pulled 84 pitches.
2023 - all over the map as he was yoinked around. His July/Aug starts were in the 70s/80s (starter drought), and Sept. had 3 starts in the low 90s.
Agreed with both these takes, which is why I wrote that the Sox are going to need them to go deeper - deliberately in the future tense.

Edit: this one too. I would assume generally that when you only walk 1 guy in 22 innings that pitch counts will be on the lower side too. More mediocre or worse starts will lead to more pitches per inning and thus fewer innings.
These days innings pitched is usually dictated by the pitch count. The first couple of games 85-90 pitches is likely to be the absolute limit for most guys and some might not get that. One rough inning like Whitlock had yesterday can see you at half of your targeted pitch count after just a couple of innings. You're not wrong about needing guys to pitch into the 6th on a fairly regular basis and at times into the 7th and 8th to give the pen a break. Tough to do in the early going, but hopefully in the next few weeks we'll see pitchers pushing that 100 pitch mark.
 

sezwho

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Noted in the other thread, but some of this seems deliberate. Not a single one of the starters threw more than 84 pitches. Could have squeezed another inning out of each and every one of them but Cora opted not to. Probably just looking to protect their arms in the early-going.
Yeah, this seems deliberate. These arms are going through the ringer over the next months and none of them have iron man track records

Seconded on the rotation throwing great balls of fire already. Would loooove to end up looking like a fair weather negative Nelly….go Breslow!
 

Rovin Romine

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I know it's super early, but perhaps the biggest upgrade this season is Bailey for Bush.

Pitch selection is different. Velocity is up. Interesting.
So. . .this makes me wonder a bit about Varitek. I don't know anything about the Cora/Bush/Varitek dynamic as opposed to the Cora/Bailey/Varitek dynamic. But it seems that the approach is very different, and the results are much more competitive/positive in terms of both the individual starter outings, and thus, the chance to win games.

I'm not saying Tek should be jettisoned or anything like that, because I'm not exactly sure what his role was/is in terms of pitch selection strategy in the big picture or pitching tactics for each individual team/batter, nor where he stood on any issue. And, most importantly, whatever it was, he (and Cora) absolutely get credit for adopting/implementing this new plan/approach.

It just makes me wonder why it didn't happen sooner.
 

Rovin Romine

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Agreed with both these takes, which is why I wrote that the Sox are going to need them to go deeper - deliberately in the future tense.
I knew you would - I just thought I'd try to put some numbers on it for the general conversation.

Edit PS: I forgot to include a mention about the improved defense in addition to the low walks - that will help push them deeper than they went in 2023.
 

Sin Duda

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So. . .this makes me wonder a bit about Varitek. I don't know anything about the Cora/Bush/Varitek dynamic as opposed to the Cora/Bailey/Varitek dynamic. But it seems that the approach is very different, and the results are much more competitive/positive in terms of both the individual starter outings, and thus, the chance to win games.

I'm not saying Tek should be jettisoned or anything like that, because I'm not exactly sure what his role was/is in terms of pitch selection strategy in the big picture or pitching tactics for each individual team/batter, nor where he stood on any issue. And, most importantly, whatever it was, he (and Cora) absolutely get credit for adopting/implementing this new plan/approach.

It just makes me wonder why it didn't happen sooner.
Maybe it was Bush's responsibility to set the plan and Tek's to execute it.
 

Rovin Romine

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Maybe it was Bush's responsibility to set the plan and Tek's to execute it.
Quite possibly - maybe even very possibly. (I'd love it if anyone could point out some reporting on that sort of thing - I'm curious.)

Interestingly, I was never really down on Bush at any point, despite mocking the mound visits in the game threads, since those never seemed to help right an outing going wrong. I think because a lot of the pitching woes seemed more execution-related, as opposed to strategically unsound. Also, the org generally said the (bland but) right things regarding pitching - throw strikes, get ahead, don't walk batters, etc. And they embraced analytics to an extent, so I more or less figured they were getting "a lot" out of the pitchers overall.

Success stories like 2023 Winckowski, late-2023 Pivetta, and LA-Brasier suggested that if the pitchers revamped their pitches or added a pitch, they could drastically improve. But that's not easy, and apart from something like that, the "natural" stuff guys had, like Pivetta's FB/curve, Bello's sinker/change, Crawford's mixed bag, and Houck's FB/slider, suggested Bush had already tapped them out and they were stalling on developing/polishing a 3rd pitch for starter variety (as it is commonly argued starters need.)

So it's fascinating to see these guys come in and play to their strengths and immediately be successful against a legit ML lineup in their home park. I'm very curious to know the why and how of this difference. And if it can be sustained.



As a side point, I hope Faste and his hitting-coach crew are as nervous as a bunch of long-tailed cats in a room full of rocking chairs. (Only because I think that's quite possibly motivating.) But imagine if someone found a way to make MLB-Yoshida more like Japan-Yoshida.
 

absintheofmalaise

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Noted in the other thread, but some of this seems deliberate. Not a single one of the starters threw more than 84 pitches. Could have squeezed another inning out of each and every one of them but Cora opted not to. Probably just looking to protect their arms of this team's most wobbly asset, the starting pitching, in the early-going.

I'll add that this team has a lot of relievers to soak up innings, and guys like Bernardino, Kelly, Luetge, and Guerrero -- two of whom have been very good pitchers at the major league level -- down in AAA who can shuttle up and down if anyone goes down or if the bullpen gets thin. Campbell and Weissert both have options still, as does Winckowski, so if the pitching gets really worn out, they can come up in a pitch. (or did MLB change the rules to make that more difficult? google isn't turning anything up).

Team also hasn't had to use Chase Anderson yet.
It also gives Cora and Bailey a good opportunity to see how their various relievers perform and slot into roles.
 

CR67dream

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Cora has been pretty clear of late that what they feel they need out of the rotation is an average of 5 innings a start, and he said that if they get that "We'll be playing baseball in October". He also said that there will be days starters will have to get their five in when they're not at their best. It's obvious they have a blueprint.

I do agree that longer outings will be a necessity, and the farther over that five inning threshold the better with a reasonable pitch count, but it seems like the plan is to not hesitate to lean on the bridge guys like Winck, Campbell, Weissert, and Slaten to pile up innings, come in fresh, and throw filth. Will it continue to work? I don't know, but other than Joely, relief pitching has been pretty dominant, and the Sox may be better served with this philosophy rather than riding a tired starter. There's also the fact that all of these pitchers throw pitches that put a tremendous amount of stress on their arms, so I'm pretty sure limiting that is factored in.

Anyway, it's a brave new world for Red Sox pitching, and really pitching in general, and it's going to be fascinating to see how things unfold.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Unbelievable start from the rotation. Night and day from last year.

I do have one slight concern that those 4 starts only yielded 22 IP despite the phenomenal results. It's obviously only the first series of the year, so we should expect that to change over the course of the year. But when the starters are pitching that well, the Sox are going to need them going 6+ innings. Otherwise the meh and bad starts will yield even fewer innings, and tax the bullpen even more.
I saw something Cora said over the weekend when asked about the Phillies leaving in a struggling Aaron Nola to get touched up for 7 runs, and Cora said that sometimes that has to happen to not overtax the pen and that he wants his starters to go at least 5 every time. I'm curious to see if that will hold when someone has one of those "meh" or "bad" starts. If say Crawford gets touched up in the second inning and faces 8-9 batters and gives up 4-5 runs, does he get hooked or does he go back out for the third (and fourth and fifth)? Do they risk falling too far behind just to prevent the pen from having to cover 6 inning instead of 3-4? The tendency used to be get a struggling starter out before he does too much damage, and maybe that changes a bit. I've long thought that the concerns about Houck's 3rd time through the order problem was a lack of experience because he'd get pulled too quickly. Maybe that will change now.

It will be interesting to watch.
 

Al Zarilla

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I just checked over on the Sons of Dave Valle, and they are really lamenting their team’s inability to hit. They are like “we’re supposed to be a really good team, maybe get all the way to the World Series, and we couldn’t even hit those Red Sox starters? They aren’t good. Look at their ERAs and FIPs from last year…mediocre to lousy. If their closer Jansen had been available Saturday night, we'd have lost 3 out of 4! Management got us no bats in the off-season. We better get some soon or at least before the trading deadline or we’ll be sitting in third place in September and no playoffs this year.”
 

CoffeeNerdness

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It did feel like they were a bat short. The crowd was loving the return of Haniger, but he's 33, had a .631 OPS last year, and hasn't had an above average season since '21 when he hit 39 HR.
 

Yelling At Clouds

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I have them pencilled in for the Annual Hunter Renfroe Trade later in the summer

(EDIT: ”them” meaning Seattle)
 
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The Gray Eagle

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It looked like both teams had well-hit balls that kind of died and turned into routine flyouts. The ball didn't seem to be carrying well sometimes.

Seattle's park definitely favors pitchers-- from baseball reference on last year's Mariners page:
Park Factors: (Over 100 favors batters, under 100 favors pitchers.)
Multi-year: Batting - 95, Pitching - 94
One-year: Batting - 95, Pitching - 94

Seattle has fantastic pitchers, and also play in a park that helps them, so it's not too surprising that we didn't score many runs there. When the team gets back to Fenway, I'd expect that our offense will score more runs but our pitching will allow more runs too.

For the rest of this trip:
Oakland's park was even more of a pitcher's park last year:
Park Factors: (Over 100 favors batters, under 100 favors pitchers.)
Multi-year: Batting - 92, Pitching - 95
One-year: Batting - 90, Pitching - 94

Their pitching staff is, um, let's say less highly regarded than Seattle's, so hopefully we'll score more runs there despite the ballpark.

Different story in Angels Park of Anaheim of Los Angeles of California:
Park Factors: (Over 100 favors batters, under 100 favors pitchers.)
Multi-year: Batting - 104, Pitching - 104
One-year: Batting - 104, Pitching - 105

Just a reminder of Coors Lite, aka Fenway Park, and how it played last year:
Park Factors: (Over 100 favors batters, under 100 favors pitchers.)
Multi-year: Batting - 106, Pitching - 106
One-year: Batting - 108, Pitching - 108
 

MikeM

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They are going to need Story to hit, and get sufficient offense out Duran/Rafaela/Grissom…lot of question marks over 162.
I don't think there is enough squinting i can do at this point to talk myself into the possibility of Story reversing the post-peak and free fall variety career arc we bought into. It hurts my brain to see us having to trot him out there as our 3/4 hitter.

Other then that though I've been pleasantly surprised to find myself more invested in watching this team play then I was expecting to be.
 

Fishy1

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I don't think there is enough squinting i can do at this point to talk myself into the possibility of Story reversing the post-peak and free fall variety career arc we bought into. It hurts my brain to see us having to trot him out there as our 3/4 hitter.

Other then that though I've been pleasantly surprised to find myself more invested in watching this team play then I was expecting to be.
He did rake this spring! Tough first 20 at-bats now that the year has begun, but I'm holding out hope.
 

nvalvo

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It did feel like they were a bat short. The crowd was loving the return of Haniger, but he's 33, had a .631 OPS last year, and hasn't had an above average season since '21 when he hit 39 HR.
He’s their Tyler O’Neill. Super talented hitter with a good approach and big pop, good defender in the corners and playable in CF, hurt all the time.
 

Cassvt2023

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This team has a chance to get off to a really good start to the season. If you look at their April schedule, these are the teams they'll face:

Oakland next 3 games. 2nd worst team in AL last year
LA Angels. 6 games in the month, 3 to finish road trip, 3 more at Fenway. Not expected to contend for anything with that roster.
Cleveland, 7 games. Good first series, but it was against the A's. Lineup isn't that strong
Pittsburgh, 3 games. Hot out of the gate against Marlins but still ultimately are the Pirates.
Chicago Cubs, 3 games. They're without their best pitcher (Steele) for at least a month
Baltimore, 3 games. The best team they'll play all month, but no Bradish for a while.

A strong 1st month can set the tone for the rest of the season.
 

simplicio

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I seem to recall a hot out of the gate Pirates team mauling us last year. Time for revenge!
 

CoffeeNerdness

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Jared Jones looked sensational in his debut. If/when Skenes arrives their fortunes could turn quickly.
 

Rovin Romine

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This team has a chance to get off to a really good start to the season. If you look at their April schedule, these are the teams they'll face:

Oakland next 3 games. 2nd worst team in AL last year
LA Angels. 6 games in the month, 3 to finish road trip, 3 more at Fenway. Not expected to contend for anything with that roster.
Cleveland, 7 games. Good first series, but it was against the A's. Lineup isn't that strong
Pittsburgh, 3 games. Hot out of the gate against Marlins but still ultimately are the Pirates.
Chicago Cubs, 3 games. They're without their best pitcher (Steele) for at least a month
Baltimore, 3 games. The best team they'll play all month, but no Bradish for a while.

A strong 1st month can set the tone for the rest of the season.
I think their greatest chance to be relevant at the trade deadline involves crushing less competitive teams. Even if they split series (or win series) against more competitive teams what happens elsewhere will determine the season. (Meaning if they go roughly .500 against the AL East clubs, but go under .500 against weak opponents while the Birds or the Yanks go over .500. . .they're done.)

And in fact, that's what happened last year. They were the #6 team in the AL at the trade deadline. But even so, they constantly blew games against weaker opponents, while (mostly) hanging tough against more impressive opponents.

By the season's end, the worst teams in the AL (under .500) were: DET, CLE, LAA, CWS, KCR, OAK.
In the NL they were: SFG, PIT, NYM, WAS, STL, CRR.

This is what we did. * for teams that lost 100 games or more.

DET 5-1​
CLE 3-3​
LAA 3-4​
*CHW 2-4​
*KCR 5-2​
*OAK 4-2​
NL SFG 1-2​
PIT 0-3​
NYM 2-1​
WSN 1-2​
STL 0-3​
*CRR 1-2​


That's 27-29 of which it was 12-10 v. 100-loss teams.

I know some teams nose-dive at the end, but even with that sort of noise this is something to consider.

***

Anyway, YMMV, but in this context, splitting the opening Seattle series 2-2 is something of a disappointment to me. We could have easily been 3-1, which would have picked up the marginal win against a solid opponent. If we attribute it to bad luck or whatever. . .that's our ration for this road trip.

(We still need to crush Oakland, since everyone else among the AL competitors will.)
 

Benj4ever

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I think their greatest chance to be relevant at the trade deadline involves crushing less competitive teams. Even if they split series (or win series) against more competitive teams what happens elsewhere will determine the season. (Meaning if they go roughly .500 against the AL East clubs, but go under .500 against weak opponents while the Birds or the Yanks go over .500. . .they're done.)

And in fact, that's what happened last year. They were the #6 team in the AL at the trade deadline. But even so, they constantly blew games against weaker opponents, while (mostly) hanging tough against more impressive opponents.

By the season's end, the worst teams in the AL (under .500) were: DET, CLE, LAA, CWS, KCR, OAK.
In the NL they were: SFG, PIT, NYM, WAS, STL, CRR.

This is what we did. * for teams that lost 100 games or more.

DET 5-1​
CLE 3-3​
LAA 3-4​
*CHW 2-4​
*KCR 5-2​
*OAK 4-2​
NL SFG 1-2​
PIT 0-3​
NYM 2-1​
WSN 1-2​
STL 0-3​
*CRR 1-2​


That's 27-29 of which it was 12-10 v. 100-loss teams.

I know some teams nose-dive at the end, but even with that sort of noise this is something to consider.

***

Anyway, YMMV, but in this context, splitting the opening Seattle series 2-2 is something of a disappointment to me. We could have easily been 3-1, which would have picked up the marginal win against a solid opponent. If we attribute it to bad luck or whatever. . .that's our ration for this road trip.

(We still need to crush Oakland, since everyone else among the AL competitors will.)
Yes, we could have been 3-1 (if not for Reyes playing 3B in game 3 instead of Dalbec, and Rodriguez having made the team). But we could have been 0-4, if the starting pitching had really been as bad as predicted. If you had told me going into Seattle that we'd have gone 2-2, I would have jumped at the prospect...so, it's definitely a glass half-empty vs. half-full sort of thing.
 

Cassvt2023

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Yes, we could have been 3-1 (if not for Reyes playing 3B in game 3 instead of Dalbec, and Rodriguez having made the team). But we could have been 0-4, if the starting pitching had really been as bad as predicted. If you had told me going into Seattle that we'd have gone 2-2, I would have jumped at the prospect...so, it's definitely a glass half-empty vs. half-full sort of thing.
We split against an 88 win team last year with a really good rotation and didn't have our best hitter for our 2 losses, and yes, we let one slip away. Now just take care of business against these next 2 lesser teams, and head to the home opener with some confidence that our pitching just may be way better than most pundits and many on here predicted. I like this team so far.
 

Rovin Romine

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Yes, we could have been 3-1 (if not for Reyes playing 3B in game 3 instead of Dalbec, and Rodriguez having made the team). But we could have been 0-4, if the starting pitching had really been as bad as predicted. If you had told me going into Seattle that we'd have gone 2-2, I would have jumped at the prospect...so, it's definitely a glass half-empty vs. half-full sort of thing.
It's not really though, unless you're only talking about subjective expectations. You may have personally be surprised that the pitching would be excellent. (I think you are far from alone in that boat.) But does that really matter? In the real world, at the end of the day, the pitching was excellent.

Game 1: we took the lead and kept it.
Game 2: we lost 0-1 in a classic pitching duel. Coin-flip. We'll win some of those and lose some.
Game 3: we blew a 3-1 lead in the 10th. Not quite a coin-flip. We should be winning most of the time in that situation.
Game 4: we took the lead and kept it.

That's two wins, a shoulda-won, and a coin-flip. We could have easily gone 4-0 based on what the players did on the field. 3-1 seems like the middle outcome here. It's also the pythag for 14 RS/10 RA.

But 2-2 overall is not a disaster when facing 3 excellent SP in a short series - as long as close-losses do not become a pattern.
 

Rovin Romine

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We split against an 88 win team last year with a really good rotation and didn't have our best hitter for our 2 losses, and yes, we let one slip away. Now just take care of business against these next 2 lesser teams, and head to the home opener with some confidence that our pitching just may be way better than most pundits and many on here predicted. I like this team so far.
Yep. It's time to ignore the pundits and look at what's actually going on.

I keep forgetting to add that the defense looks very much improved - and that's even with our #2 choice for 2B. Regardless of the final record, I think they're going to be far less frustrating to watch than they were last year.
 

Cassvt2023

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Yep. It's time to ignore the pundits and look at what's actually going on.

I keep forgetting to add that the defense looks very much improved - and that's even with our #2 choice for 2B. Regardless of the final record, I think they're going to be far less frustrating to watch than they were last year.
Yes, that will help the pitchers stay away from prolonged innings. A lot have mentioned how Story stabilizes SS, and Rafaela in CF and Duran in LF is much stronger than Duran/CF Yoshida/LF, but how about Tyler O'Neill out there? a two time GG, his bat has started hot, and he has already made some great plays on defense. Please stay helthy, TO!
 

BaseballJones

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Yes, we could have been 3-1 (if not for Reyes playing 3B in game 3 instead of Dalbec, and Rodriguez having made the team). But we could have been 0-4, if the starting pitching had really been as bad as predicted. If you had told me going into Seattle that we'd have gone 2-2, I would have jumped at the prospect...so, it's definitely a glass half-empty vs. half-full sort of thing.
I’m perfectly happy with 2-2 in Seattle. Solid start.
 

The Gray Eagle

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This honestly might have been the best thing to see this first series. Bello, for example, got killed last year when he used his 4-seamer, but he seemed to continue going to it regardless. Don't think he threw any on Thursday.
The Glob has some quotes about Bello and his 4-seam fastball:
https://www.bostonglobe.com/2024/03/30/sports/red-sox-brayan-bello/

The one pitch the righthander didn’t use, however, was his four-seam fastball.
Yet, of course, there’s a reason.
“I didn’t focus on throwing that pitch the other night,” Bello said through translator Carlos Villoria Benitez. “I feel like every time I’ve thrown that pitch, it’s getting hit. It’s not a pitch that I’m going to stop throwing. We’re just going to pick and choose when to throw it.”
So the plan is not to abandon it permanently and to probably use it more later in the season.
Bello went into last offseason focused on improving that pitch’s location. The club doesn’t envision that pitch being as dominant as his other stuff, but many of Bello’s pitches move east and west. If he could get a fastball that could raise hitters’ eye level, that would amplify the rest of his arsenal. Clearly, though, that pitch isn’t where it needs to be.
“He didn’t throw it a lot in spring training,” said manager Alex Cora. “That’s something that everybody knows the damage that was done on the four-seamer last year. Obviously, there are certain hitters where we will use it. As far as game planning it didn’t make sense using it [on Thursday]. It’s one of those, we’re trying to maximize our repertoire. He did an outstanding job using his other pitches and it was good.”
Throwing a fastball up in the zone isn’t easy, particularly for Bello, whose success derives from living down in the zone. For now, Bello will live with what has got him here. The four-seamer will have to wait.
“I think as of right now, I’m not focused on throwing it a lot,” said Bello. “Maybe in the future, in, say, one, two, or three months I might put it back into the fold a little bit. Obviously not as much as my changeup slider.”
 

chrisfont9

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Boston may struggle at times scoring runs. A significant portion of the lineup has a year or less of experience. Casas was very good last year, but players sometimes struggle in their second year as the league adjusts. We don't really know what we have with Story at this point either and though O'Neill has looked great he is to some degree an unknown as well.
Career Plate Appearances
Rafaela - 101
Abreu - 83
Valdez - 149
Wong - 480
Grissom - 597
Casas - 597
Duran - 715
If and when any regulars get hurt or otherwise we need more offense, the Sox are well positioned to pick up a veteran bat - plenty of $$ available, and rentals are fine given the bats coming up probably next year.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Has anybody else noticed the improved defense of Valdez? With his offensive ability it’s going to make the Grissom call difficult especially if Grissom struggles. I wish Valdez could add 4” in height and start working out at 1B and 3B.
 

rodderick

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Has anybody else noticed the improved defense of Valdez? With his offensive ability it’s going to make the Grissom call difficult especially if Grissom struggles. I wish Valdez could add 4” in height and start working out at 1B and 3B.
I do think Valdez has been a lot better defensively, but it's not like he's lighting it up at the plate. Swinging at air a ton.
 

simplicio

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Yeah, major kudos to Valdez on D. He's clearly been putting in work to improve there. He's not automatic but I think we've seen him doing stuff he wasn't capable of last year.
 

Cassvt2023

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I do think Valdez has been a lot better defensively, but it's not like he's lighting it up at the plate. Swinging at air a ton.
Agree on the D. He is making the plays that he should. As for the bat, it is nice to have a guy in the lower 3rd of the batting order who has the ability to hit one out of the park at any time. He only has around 150 MLB at bats with 7 HR. In 2022 he hit 28 across AA/AAA with a .918 OPS. He just turned 25 in late December.
 

rodderick

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Agree on the D. He is making the plays that he should. As for the bat, it is nice to have a guy in the lower 3rd of the batting order who has the ability to hit one out of the park at any time. He only has around 150 MLB at bats with 7 HR. In 2022 he hit 28 across AA/AAA with a .918 OPS. He just turned 25 in late December.
Sure, I think he has potential to be a solid bat, just don't think he's been good enough at the plate to justify not giving Grissom a ton of run, even with the improved D.
 

Fishy1

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Agreed that his defense has been solidly average-ish, and that's nice, but Valdez needs to calm down at the plate is my read.

He's swinging out of his shoes trying to crush every fastball that's thrown to him and swinging over the top of a lot of bad breaking pitches. This is a guy who took a walk nearly 18% of the time last year at AAA. He seems to take a long time to adjust at each level. When he first got promoted to AAA, he only walked 6.4% of the time, then that number steadily climbed in his exposure to that level.

He hasn't taken a walk yet this year and only walked 5.4% of the time in the bigs last year. Ceddane-ish numbers. I suspect his true talent level is around a 9-10% walk rate. If he wants to stick as a starting player, he needs to get there.

Not that my speculation, but I wonder if he's feeling some pressure to have a great month to make the battle for 2B a question. I mean, I would be. If he is, it'd behoove him to calm down rather than trying to send every pitch that comes his way 450 feet.
 
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