Maybe the Red Sox are good?

PrometheusWakefield

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We knew they were going to hit. JD Martinez, Rafael Devers, Xander Boegarts looks like a legit middle of the order. Frenchy Cordero, Christian Vasquez, and Alex Verdugo seem like solid offensive contributors and maybe Dalbec too. It's a deep lineup. I'm not sure if we have an answer at second base yet and I think we need another top of the order hitter with Verdugo. But after 397 plate appearances the offense has produced a line of .277/.332/.479 with 15 HR and 5 SB. That represents the second best offense in the American League so far (to the Astros).

The pitching seemed a crapshoot, and if you're going into a season with the pitching looking like a crapshoot you figure it's more likely to end up a catastrophe than something good. But the starting pitching has been better than expected and the bullpen has been excellent. Boston relievers have a 2.85 FIP and are striking out 10.1 batters per 9 innings. That starts with Barnes at the top, who looks like more of a shut down closer this year, Garret Whitlock seems like a revelation, Houck looks like he's going to contribute somewhere, and then with Andrise, Ottovino, Sawamura and I believe in Darwinson Hernandez, it's a bullpen with depth and quality capable of eating innings and limiting the exposure of the back end of the rotation.

Can the rotation be good enough? We had lots of reasons to believe Eovaldi would be good this year and so far he has been. I have confidence in Edro's ability if he stays healthy. That's two. I don't think we want opposing batters to get a third look at any of our other starters. I think Pivetta and Richards in particular are the kinds of pitchers that could benefit from limited exposure and I suspect that's why Chaim brought them in. In 2019, Red Sox SPs threw 802 innings and Red Sox RPs threw 665 innings. I could easily see the 2021 Red Sox reversing those numbers.

If Sale comes back strong, if the bullpen stays as good as it has been, if we can find a solution at second base, if Edro stays healthy... maybe this team could actually win this division?
 

joe dokes

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We knew they were going to hit. JD Martinez, Rafael Devers, Xander Boegarts looks like a legit middle of the order. Frenchy Cordero, Christian Vasquez, and Alex Verdugo seem like solid offensive contributors and maybe Dalbec too. It's a deep lineup. I'm not sure if we have an answer at second base yet and I think we need another top of the order hitter with Verdugo. But after 397 plate appearances the offense has produced a line of .277/.332/.479 with 15 HR and 5 SB. That represents the second best offense in the American League so far (to the Astros).

The pitching seemed a crapshoot, and if you're going into a season with the pitching looking like a crapshoot you figure it's more likely to end up a catastrophe than something good. But the starting pitching has been better than expected and the bullpen has been excellent. Boston relievers have a 2.85 FIP and are striking out 10.1 batters per 9 innings. That starts with Barnes at the top, who looks like more of a shut down closer this year, Garret Whitlock seems like a revelation, Houck looks like he's going to contribute somewhere, and then with Andrise, Ottovino, Sawamura and I believe in Darwinson Hernandez, it's a bullpen with depth and quality capable of eating innings and limiting the exposure of the back end of the rotation.

Can the rotation be good enough? We had lots of reasons to believe Eovaldi would be good this year and so far he has been. I have confidence in Edro's ability if he stays healthy. That's two. I don't think we want opposing batters to get a third look at any of our other starters. I think Pivetta and Richards in particular are the kinds of pitchers that could benefit from limited exposure and I suspect that's why Chaim brought them in. In 2019, Red Sox SPs threw 802 innings and Red Sox RPs threw 665 innings. I could easily see the 2021 Red Sox reversing those numbers.

If Sale comes back strong, if the bullpen stays as good as it has been, if we can find a solution at second base, if Edro stays healthy... maybe this team could actually win this division?
For me, the gross "quality" of the rotation is separate from "how much better it is from last year." It's hard to believe, but I think there's a tendency to underestimate how shitty the pitching was last year, so relative improvement for this year also gets underestimated. Imagine if they played a whole season with only 4 fielders. They'd give up a shitload of runs. Then the following year, they have 8 fielders. It would be impossible not to be better, even if they were 8 Hector Lopezes.**
If 5 starters throw 5 innings per start, that's 780 innings. Last year they didn't even have 5 starters that could do that.




**From the Great American Baseball Card Flipping Trading and BubbleGum Book:
Now, it is not necessary for me to declare that Hector Lopez was the worst fielding third baseman in the history of baseball. Everyone knows that. It is more or less a matter of public record. But I do feel called upon somehow to try to indicate, if only for the historical archivists among us, the sheer depths of his innovative barbarousness. Hector Lopez was a butcher. Pure and Simple. A butcher. His range was about one step to either side, his hands seemed to be made of concrete and his defensive attitude was so cavalier and arbitrary as to hardly constitute an attitude at all. Hector did not simply field a groundball, he attacked it. Like a farmer trying to kill a snake with a stick. And his mishandling of routine infield flies was the sort of which legends are made. Hector Lopez was not just a bad fielder for a third baseman. In fact, Hector Lopez was not just a bad fielder for a baseball player. Hector Lopez was, when every factor has been taken into consideration, a bad fielder for a human being. The stands are full of obnoxious leather-lunged cretins who insist they can play better than most major leaguers. Well, in Hector's case they could have been right. I would like to go on record right here and now as declaring Hector Lopez the all-time worst fielding major league ballplayer. That's quite a responsibility there, Hector, but I have every confidence you'll be able to live up to it.
 

azsoxpatsfan

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Like you said, we knew the offense would be good, so it’s no surprise that they’ve been awesome and there’s no reason to expect regression. The bullpen has been fantastic, and I don’t think there’s reason to expect huge regression there either (maybe a bit, but I expect them to be at least solid for the rest of the season). It really comes down to if we think the rotation is as good as it’s looked so far. I think Eovaldi and Eduardo should continue being great (health permitting), so it’s gonna come down to if pivetta, Perez, and Richards can be competitive. If they can consistently give 5-6 innings and fewer than 4 runs, I think the team could actually be extremely good
 

azsoxpatsfan

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Also, my younger brother and I were discussing the possibility that the Sox keep it up, the Rays have another good year, the Blue Jays live up to the hype after all their signing, and the Yankees come in 4th. Imagining the Yankees coming in 4th makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside
 

jmcc5400

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Pure eyeball test, but it feels like the defense may be better that we might have expected. Obviously, we don't have JBJr, Pedroia or Moreland out there, but the outfield defense has been passable, Arroyo has manned second base credibly and I feel Dalbec can be a good defensive first basemen.
 

BaseballJones

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Eovaldi has never been "great". At times he's been pretty good, and obviously in individual games or stretches he's been great. But he's not a great pitcher. His career era is 4.23, his career era+ is 97, and his career k/9 (despite electric stuff) is just 7.1. But he's clearly got the ability to be pretty good, which is good enough. Rodriguez is better than Eovaldi, or at least his career numbers suggest he is. 4.04 era, 113 era+, 9.1 k/9. So that's pretty good too.

But the rotation looks like it could have a couple of pretty good guys at the top, and more than serviceable guys filling out the rotation. You add Chris F-ing Sale to that (healthy) and suddenly the rotation could be a serious strength. And Houck has looked like the real deal and he could be added as well.
 

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Eovaldi has never been "great". At times he's been pretty good, and obviously in individual games or stretches he's been great. But he's not a great pitcher. His career era is 4.23, his career era+ is 97, and his career k/9 (despite electric stuff) is just 7.1. But he's clearly got the ability to be pretty good, which is good enough. Rodriguez is better than Eovaldi, or at least his career numbers suggest he is. 4.04 era, 113 era+, 9.1 k/9. So that's pretty good too.

But the rotation looks like it could have a couple of pretty good guys at the top, and more than serviceable guys filling out the rotation. You add Chris F-ing Sale to that (healthy) and suddenly the rotation could be a serious strength. And Houck has looked like the real deal and he could be added as well.
Yeah, Eovaldi has been wildly overrated his whole career because he throws gas. Consistently straight gas. He's a solid mid-rotation starter who gets hurt a lot. Nothing more.

Having said that, the thought of our trade deadline acquisition being Chris Sale excites the crap out of me.
 

YTF

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Like you said, we knew the offense would be good, so it’s no surprise that they’ve been awesome and there’s no reason to expect regression. The bullpen has been fantastic, and I don’t think there’s reason to expect huge regression there either (maybe a bit, but I expect them to be at least solid for the rest of the season). It really comes down to if we think the rotation is as good as it’s looked so far. I think Eovaldi and Eduardo should continue being great (health permitting), so it’s gonna come down to if pivetta, Perez, and Richards can be competitive. If they can consistently give 5-6 innings and fewer than 4 runs, I think the team could actually be extremely good
It might be a bit much to expect that from all three, but it's a comfort to know that Tanner Houck looks to be ready to assume a starting role if/when he's called on to replace one of them due to injury or performance. Cora has gone on the record as say that if Houck is on the roster he'll be in the rotation, so the confidence in him is there. I'm really hoping that Pivetta is one of those, "a change in scenery will do him good" players and it's hard not to root for Richards given his early successes before injuries began to pile up. Either way, I hope that as the season moves forward this pitching staff (and where to find innings for everyone) becomes one of those "good problems" that managers sometimes refer to.
 

YTF

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Yeah, Eovaldi has been wildly overrated his whole career because he throws gas. Consistently straight gas. He's a solid mid-rotation starter who gets hurt a lot. Nothing more.

Having said that, the thought of our trade deadline acquisition being Chris Sale excites the crap out of me.
A big IF, but add to this IF everyone on the staff stays healthy and continues to contribute there may be an expendable arm at the deadline to help plug any other gaps that may present themselves.
 

OurF'ingCity

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Seems like the pitching staff this year could be what Cherington wanted, but didn't get, with the 2015 "He's the Ace" group - 5 or 6 okay-to-good pitchers that are all interchangeable and fairly steady such that, ideally, you know roughly what you are going to get on any given day. If everything works out well, of course, EdRo should be better than just "good" but there is a lot of potential for variance there. Not having a true top-of-the-line "ace" in the DeGrom/Cole mold is not as bad when the rest of the rotation through #5 all give you consistently average to above-average results.

The bullpen is much the same - they don't have an obvious "star" (although Barnes is pitching like one at the moment) but ideally they have enough guys who can give you decent-to-very-good performance such that Cora can plug-and-play to some degree based on matchups, who is pitching the best at any given time, etc.

Of course, this could all be derailed by bad injury luck, or just some of the Sox pitchers getting shittier as the year wears on, but you can see where the path is to have a solid rotation throughout the year (bigger question as to whether this "no one great but no one bad" approach to pitching works in the postseason, but I think most Sox fans would view making the postseason at all this year as a pretty successful season, given the circumstances).

P.S. This thread scares the crap out of me from a potential jinx perspective.
 

Merkle's Boner

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It might be a bit much to expect that from all three, but it's a comfort to know that Tanner Houck looks to be ready to assume a starting role if/when he's called on to replace one of them due to injury or performance. Cora has gone on the record as say that if Houck is on the roster he'll be in the rotation, so the confidence in him is there. I'm really hoping that Pivetta is one of those, "a change in scenery will do him good" players and it's hard not to root for Richards given his early successes before injuries began to pile up. Either way, I hope that as the season moves forward this pitching staff (and where to find innings for everyone) becomes one of those "good problems" that managers sometimes refer to.
Along these lines, I think the decision of when to yank one of those three and give Houck a shot in the rotation is going to be a really important factor. How quickly does Cora move away from one of them (most likely Perez or Richards IMO) for the young arm.
 

YTF

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Along these lines, I think the decision of when to yank one of those three and give Houck a shot in the rotation is going to be a really important factor. How quickly does Cora move away from one of them (most likely Perez or Richards IMO) for the young arm.
As long as they are winning the leash will be slightly longer for the other two, but I don't think it's going to be real long. That said, injuries often have a way of sorting these things out.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Along these lines, I think the decision of when to yank one of those three and give Houck a shot in the rotation is going to be a really important factor. How quickly does Cora move away from one of them (most likely Perez or Richards IMO) for the young arm.
I've felt all along that unless one of those guys is either hurt or just disastrously bad (like Richards' first start bad every time out), Houck probably won't become a regular in the rotation before Memorial Day. Ideally it wouldn't happen until the second half. A second half rotation with Houck and Sale taking regular turns behind ERod and Eovaldi would be tremendous.
 

johnnywayback

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Why were they bad last year? There was a lot of talent on the team, so what went wrong? I'd say, in declining order of significance:

1. Starting pitchers got hurt and we had absolutely zero acceptable depth.
2. JD Martinez, Rafael Devers, and Andrew Benintendi underperformed.
3. There was a general sense of disarray -- bad defense, bad baserunning, mediocre effort in general.
4. Not a lot of flexibility on the roster -- difficult to adjust when players were slumping.

So far, we've had good luck with the pitchers' health, and we have better depth if and when that changes. Martinez and Devers seem like themselves, and while it's too soon to know what we'll get out of Cordero/Renfroe, it can't be worse than what Benintendi gave us. Cora's back, and you can see a difference in the team's resilience. And the roster is all flexibility.

Lots and lots can go wrong, but it sure seems like they've addressed the big reasons why the team played so far below its talent level, so I think there's reason to hope that even with some regression, the improvement is real and sustainable.
 

LoweTek

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Why were they bad last year? There was a lot of talent on the team, so what went wrong? I'd say, in declining order of significance:

1. Starting pitchers got hurt and we had absolutely zero acceptable depth.
2. JD Martinez, Rafael Devers, and Andrew Benintendi underperformed.
3. There was a general sense of disarray -- bad defense, bad baserunning, mediocre effort in general.
4. Not a lot of flexibility on the roster -- difficult to adjust when players were slumping.
5. Bad managing. There I said it.

I was in disbelief when several folks on this board were talking negatively about the Cora rehire. Cora is clearly a difference maker. He's a very good in game manager. He delegates well. And most importantly the players love him and respond to his ever present positivity. When you stick with guys through performance issues (within limits) they will run through walls for you. Cora knows this well and practices it. Devers is like a different player as is Martinez.

There really is no comparison to the manager situation last year. Quite frankly, I think the Red Sox made it clear to Cora when he went out and was let go due to the suspension, it was his job to take once his suspension ended.

I hope he is changing some of the doubting minds present at the time he was rehired.

Point of note. The Red Sox are three games ahead in the loss column of all the other East Division teams. They have the fewest losses in the AL. I know. It's early, SSS, etc., etc. But it sure is a nice surprise after the opening series sweep.

I'm in.
 

Yo La Tengo

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I heard one of the announcers say the Red Sox won 2/3rds (not positive of that number) of their games last year when their starter pitched 5 innings. That just didn't happen very often.

Even with some poor performances, the Sox offense was pretty good last year (in AL, top 3 OPS, top 6 HRs, top 5 runs, best batting average). The pitching, especially the starting pitching, was really bad.

If Eovaldi and ERod stay healthy, and if Pivetta can be a functional #5, and if some bullpen pieces grow into their roles, and if Houck can fill in for Richards if he struggles, and if Chris Sale can contribute meaningful innings, the Sox could be a good team.

(If all of those other things happen, they might stay competitive, with any contributions from Sale pushing them higher.)
 

InsideTheParker

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5. Bad managing. There I said it.

I was in disbelief when several folks on this board were talking negatively about the Cora rehire. Cora is clearly a difference maker. He's a very good in game manager. He delegates well. And most importantly the players love him and respond to his ever present positivity. When you stick with guys through performance issues (within limits) they will run through walls for you. Cora knows this well and practices it. Devers is like a different player as is Martinez.

There really is no comparison to the manager situation last year. Quite frankly, I think the Red Sox made it clear to Cora when he went out and was let go due to the suspension, it was his job to take once his suspension ended.

I hope he is changing some of the doubting minds present at the time he was rehired.

Point of note. The Red Sox are three games ahead in the loss column of all the other East Division teams. They have the fewest losses in the AL. I know. It's early, SSS, etc., etc. But it sure is a nice surprise after the opening series sweep.

I'm in.
What he said.^^^^^^^^^^
 

The Gray Eagle

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Last year's pitching "depth" was unimaginably terrible. This year we seem to have actual viable major league pitchers even at the end of the roster.
That wasn't the case last year.
Godley, Springs, Covey, Kickham, Walden, Hart, and Hall combined to throw 116 innings last year, and went 1-13 with a 9.49 ERA.
Seriously. I've never seen anything like that before.
 

Don Buddin's GS

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To LoweTek's point about managing, Gammo tweeted this observation about the 1st game of today's twinbill:

View: https://twitter.com/pgammo/status/1382437919332446224


Alex Cora puts Kike Hernandez in center and moves Alex Verdugo to left in bottom of the 7th of the doubleheader opener. With two out and Jake Cave, Luis Arraez hits a line drive to left, Verdugo makes a spectacular diving catch. Game over.
 

joe dokes

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To LoweTek's point about managing, Gammo tweeted this observation about the 1st game of today's twinbill:

View: https://twitter.com/pgammo/status/1382437919332446224


Alex Cora puts Kike Hernandez in center and moves Alex Verdugo to left in bottom of the 7th of the doubleheader opener. With two out and Jake Cave, Luis Arraez hits a line drive to left, Verdugo makes a spectacular diving catch. Game over.
I thought this was fake -- no incomprehensibility -- until I got to the Jake Cave mystery. Glad to see gammo still at it.
 

Heating up in the bullpen

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To LoweTek's point about managing, Gammo tweeted this observation about the 1st game of today's twinbill:

View: https://twitter.com/pgammo/status/1382437919332446224


Alex Cora puts Kike Hernandez in center and moves Alex Verdugo to left in bottom of the 7th of the doubleheader opener. With two out and Jake Cave, Luis Arraez hits a line drive to left, Verdugo makes a spectacular diving catch. Game over.
Cora's been saying since ST that even when Kiké sits, he'll be going in for defense in the late innings of close games, as he considers him both their best CF and best 2B.
 

DeadlySplitter

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No chance they go over.

The "deadline" additions, if they want to go aggressive, are Jarren Duran, Chris Sale and *maybe* Connor Seabold.
 

patinorange

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They definitely have something cooking. If Sale comes back to anything approaching form, then we may really have something cooking.
Good vibes and a hint of the 2013 type "we can't lose" attitude.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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If they take off and get on pace for 90+ wins I’m hopeful they’ll spend over the limit and go for it.
If they take off? They're on pace for 121 wins already. Spend spend spend! Get up to 125 win pace.

/sarcasm

Absent injuries, I'm not sure what the team should be buying at the deadline. Obviously it's three months away and things could change, but I don't think there's something significant to upgrade, that they don't already have in the pipeline (Sale, Duran, Houck, maybe Seabold), that would be worth sacrificing any long term assets. This isn't 2004. They're not desperate to break a long drought. This is a team at the early stages of an upswing. I'd expect upgrades around the margins if the team is in the hunt in July (maybe another reliever), but nothing earth-shattering or cap-breaking.
 

lexrageorge

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In defense of Ron Roenicke, I really don't think there's enough bad that can be said about the 2020 starting pitching for the Red Sox. Going by the number of games started:

Martin Perez (12): Currently the 4/5 starter on the Red Sox, which seems about right.
Nate Eovaldi (9): Solid season in 2020. Currently #2.
Zack Godley (7): Currently on a minor league deal with the Brewers.
Chris Mazza (6): Spare part relief pitcher for the Rays
Ryan Weber (5): 7 HR's allowed in 19 innings as a starter. In AAA; could be on a shuttle if the team needs bullpen help.
Colten Brewer (4): Was acquired to be a part of the Sox pen in 2019; 6.91 ERA as a starter before he got hurt. Got shelled in spring training and is now in Worcester.
Tanner Houck (3): One bright spot.
Kyle Hart (3): Career minor leaguer prior to 2020; back in the minors. 4 HR's allowed in 11 innings.
Mike Kickham (2): Another career minor leaguer, now in the Dodgers' system.
Nick Pivetta (2): A potential steal at last season's trade deadline.
Andrew Triggs (2): A waiver wire pickup so the Sox could actually pencil in a starting pitcher some games in September. Out of baseball.
Matt Hall (1): AAA reliever

Single-game openers:

Ryan Brasier (rehab), Austin Brice, Josh Osich (Cubs minor league), Robinson Leyer (Twins minor league).

That's 26 games out of 60 that were started by actual major league starting pitchers (includes Houck, who is in AAA).

The team's front office essentially declared 2020 to be a "gap year" before the season even started. So, while I agree Cora is a great manager for this team, it's hard to pin much blame on 2020 on the guy who never had the interim label removed from his job title.
 

BaseballJones

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Yeah it was easily the worst pitching staff I've ever seen on a major league roster. And even their best reliever - Barnes - was bad that year. It was a perfect storm of suck and it was without question the most miserable summer watching baseball in my life. And the Sox have had some bad teams in my lifetime, so this is saying something.
 

thehitcat

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I agree the pitching is better and I don't want to be the turd in the punchbowl here but I don't see a bullpen that is built for long term success. Essentially I don't see enough strike throwers. Barnes and Ottavino are fine. Darwinzon throws hard but he doesn't have great control. Taylor is someone who should get replaced but as they are against the limit and I don't think they'll go over they might need to hope he "figures it out" Brice throws strikes 2.5 K/BB career but tends to get hit alot and give up runs. Not someone you want in a high leverage situation. We don't know what we'll have when Brasier gets back, maybe he'll be 2018 good. Valdez might be what he was last year but more likely he's the nibbler we've seen this Spring. Andriese relies on his curve which means there will be days he doesn't have it and Whitlock is young. I'm thrilled with what he's done so far but I'm worried about what happens after folks have tape on him.

I like watching this team alot but this bullpen makes me think we're going to lose a number of games that our decent starters hand off and that will be frustrating over the course of the year.
 

RedOctober3829

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To those counting on Sale the second half of the year: don’t count on him. He’s currently throwing at 120-130 ft on flat ground. Most don’t expect him back until August and it usually takes 18 months to return to form. Anything they’d get from Sale this year is a bonus. 2022 is when we could see the old Sale.
 
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All true, and I still think the Sox finish at somewhere around 80-85 wins. However, Sawamura makes me feel better about the bullpen.

However it goes, I think they're going to be a fun team to watch and that's all I can ask for.
 

BaseballJones

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Sawamura and Whitlock are going to play big roles in this bullpen. Bloom is accumulating enough power arms that they can ride the hot hands. I think roles will change a lot as the season goes on.
I know we've only seen him in three appearances, but I'm blown away by Whitlock's changeup. Best changes I've ever seen in a Red Sox uniform are Pedro's, Koji's, and Foulke's. But Whitlock's has the same action as Pedro's and Koji's, down and away from lefties (Foulke's more just dropped straight down if I recall correctly). It's a devastating pitch. He struck out a guy yesterday on four straight changeups.

But unlike Koji and Foulke, Whitlock can come at hitters with a 95mph fastball too. I have no idea, based on what I've seen so far, why NY let this guy get away. He's incredibly impressive.

EDIT: If we count his spring training innings, so far he's pitched 15.1 innings, allowing 11 h, 1 r, 0 bb, and has struck out 21 guys. That's a 0.59 era, 0.72 whip, and a 12.3 k/9.
 

joe dokes

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In defense of Ron Roenicke, I really don't think there's enough bad that can be said about the 2020 starting pitching for the Red Sox. Going by the number of games started:

Martin Perez (12): Currently the 4/5 starter on the Red Sox, which seems about right.
Nate Eovaldi (9): Solid season in 2020. Currently #2.
Zack Godley (7): Currently on a minor league deal with the Brewers.
Chris Mazza (6): Spare part relief pitcher for the Rays
Ryan Weber (5): 7 HR's allowed in 19 innings as a starter. In AAA; could be on a shuttle if the team needs bullpen help.
Colten Brewer (4): Was acquired to be a part of the Sox pen in 2019; 6.91 ERA as a starter before he got hurt. Got shelled in spring training and is now in Worcester.
Tanner Houck (3): One bright spot.
Kyle Hart (3): Career minor leaguer prior to 2020; back in the minors. 4 HR's allowed in 11 innings.
Mike Kickham (2): Another career minor leaguer, now in the Dodgers' system.
Nick Pivetta (2): A potential steal at last season's trade deadline.
Andrew Triggs (2): A waiver wire pickup so the Sox could actually pencil in a starting pitcher some games in September. Out of baseball.
Matt Hall (1): AAA reliever

Single-game openers:

Ryan Brasier (rehab), Austin Brice, Josh Osich (Cubs minor league), Robinson Leyer (Twins minor league).

That's 26 games out of 60 that were started by actual major league starting pitchers (includes Houck, who is in AAA).

The team's front office essentially declared 2020 to be a "gap year" before the season even started. So, while I agree Cora is a great manager for this team, it's hard to pin much blame on 2020 on the guy who never had the interim label removed from his job title.
To further the point, they were 7-5 after Houck and Pivetta joined the rotation.
 

RoDaddy

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If we still look good mid-season, we'll likely have overpay for a leadoff man - and someone with speed since there's not much on this team
 

bosockboy

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To those counting on Sale the second half of the year: don’t count on him. He’s currently throwing at 120-130 ft on flat ground. Most don’t expect him back until August and it usually takes 18 months to return to form. Anything they’d get from Sale this year is a bonus. 2022 is when we could see the old Sale.
I’d think they might use Sale as an opener and a 2-3 inning reliever down the stretch.
 

Tuff Ghost

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SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
516
Pivetta’s fastball velocity is up 2mph and is at a career high. His improved performance is likely not a mirage. He’s better than Houck.
I'm not convinced that Pivetta is better than Houck. Pivetta has been hit somewhat hard and has an xERA of 4.62 so far, so he has been a little lucky with his 3.27 actual ERA.

He's been below average in basically every Statcast measurement so far:
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It is interesting to see him throwing his slider more than his curveball this year. His curveball has elite movement and his slider is closer to average, but maybe the slider is tunneling better with his 4-seamer.

Curveball:
- 2020 Usage: 24.5%
- 2021 Usage: 15.0%
- Vertical movement vs league ave 2021: +8.2"
- Horizontal movement vs league ave 2021: +1.7"

Slider:
- 2020 Usage: 20.0%
- 2021 Usage: 33.2%
- Vertical movement vs league ave 2021: -0.1"
- Horizontal movement vs league ave 2021: +0.7"

The fastball velocity jump is great, though. He's throwing 94.9 mph vs. 92.8 mph last year. He does not have an elite spin rate on it (2342 rpm, 75th among qualified pitchers), but with a pretty good active spin rate (95.6%) he gets above average vertical movement (+1.5"), giving the deceptive feeling of a rising fastball due to it not dropping as much as expected.

He's pounding the fastballs up in the zone.
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Regardless of who turns out better (my bet is on Houck), it's nice to see some pretty good turns through the rotation so far this year. The team pitching xwOBA of .305 is 8th in MLB. Last year they were 28th with an xwOBA of .351 (!).
 

NJ_Sox_Fan

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SoSH Member
Jan 2, 2006
7,113
NJ
Assuming they are still doing well come deadline time, and assuming that Sale is not going to be back and throwing 7+ innings, hopefully there is a SP out there to be had that they can acquire without breaking the prospect bank.

If you can get to the playoffs with ERod/SP acquired/Eovaldi/Pivetta or Houck and some innings from Sale - whether he is an opener, or added to what could be an excellent pen, I think they match up very well with anyone.