Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, June 10, 2014 at 7:00 PM
ESPN did not anticipate, when they scheduled a bunch of appearances for the defending World Champion Boston Red Sox in 2014, that the champs would have a worse record than the helpless Houston Astros in early June!
But, that’s what the standings showed by two-thousandths of a point after Monday Night’s action. Boston lost at Baltimore, in the first game of a three-game series that concludes tonight on ESPN, while Houston won at Arizona.
Thru Monday June 9
Houston .446 (29-36)
Boston .444 (28-35)
Because of publication deadlines, this TV preview is being written before Tuesday’s action. By the time you’re reading this, the Red Sox may be back in front of Houston in the AL picture, or further behind. You’ve got to give the Astros some credit for maturing quickly in the heat of battle and finding respectability sooner than had been anticipated. But, we’re still talking about teams who are seven games below the .500 mark. Boston was supposed to be at least a 90-win team, with a chance to do even better because of their championship pedigree.
Let’s run through our indicator stats for Wednesday’s Boston/Baltimore divisional showdown and see if we can figure out what went wrong for Boston.
Boston: 4.02 runs per game, .327 on-base, .375 slugging
Baltimore: 4.32 runs per game, .319 on-base, .416 slugging
Clearly there’s a problem right off the bat. Boston doesn’t have the worst offense in the American League, but is down near the bottom. No way that this offense was supposed to be so much worse than contenders. Baltimore, frankly, hasn’t been very good on offense either…yet they still are three-tenths of a run per game better. That’s a few runs per week. Boston ranks a respectable fifth in on-base percentage. That should be a specialty for a sabermetric team. Boston at its best would be up at the top of the AL. Slugging has been a disaster. The Red Sox rank #12 in the AL despite playing their home games in a great park for slugging! Only Seattle, Tampa Bay, and Kansas City have worse slugging percentages at the moment.
De La Rosa: 2.84 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 9.2 K-Rate
Wei-Yin Chen: 4.13 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 6.5 K-Rate
That’s Rubby De La Rosa, who you may remember as a Dodgers prospect. He’s only made two starts for Boston this season. Those numbers are a little misleading because he shut down slumping Tampa Bay over seven innings before getting hit pretty hard by Detroit last time out. The fact that De La Rosa is getting starts tells you more than his stats do. He wasn’t supposed to be in the rotation!
Here are the rotation pitchers who have been flailing for Boston:
Clay Buchholz: 7.02 ERA in 10 starts
Felix Doubront: 5.12 ERA in 9 starts
Jake Peavy: 4.76 ERA in 13 starts
Remember, this is a low-scoring year in baseball, so those numbers are even worse than they look at first glance. And, they’re pretty awful at first glance. It adds up to a composite ERA over 5.00 over 32 starts. Frankly, Boston could be even worse off than they already are.
Chen hasn’t been sharp this year, but it hasn’t hurt the team because he’s been getting run support. It’s a miracle he has a 6-2 won-lost record given those mediocre numbers (by low scoring 2014 standards) in front of an offense that’s largely been struggling. Chen’s been one of the luckiest rotation starters in the majors!
Where does that leave us with our Red Sox review? Punchless offense that draws some walks but can’t bash any more…starting rotation desperate for some consistency and depth…that’s going to keep them well out of the playoff picture and possibly below .500 all season. There’s time to recover. Just no signs yet of recovery!
JIM HURLEY is thinking about a team side pick here, or possibly the Over. There are many options to choose from on the busy Wednesday card. You can always purchase game day BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155.
Back with you Thursday to preview Game Four of the NBA Finals featuring the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat. Here’s our schedule for the next several days:
Thursday: NBA Finals Game 4
Friday: MLB Series Preview: Washington at St. Louis
Saturday: MLB game preview to be determined
Sunday: NBA Finals Game 5
Monday: MLB Series Preview: Kansas City at Detroit
Tuesday: NBA Finals Game 6
Your local newsstand is already full of preview publications for college and pro football. We’ll begin some gridiron gab very soon in the NOTEBOOK as well. Tonight, the focus is in the bases…WHERE DIAMOND GEMS await! Let’s go get the money!