Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Red Sox Dominating Despite Little Value from Starting Pitchers

You may have noticed that the Red Sox are 12-2 so far in July. In doing so, they've passed the Yankees for the best record in the American League, and are only a half game worse than the Phillies for the best record in baseball. They now sit at 58-36, erasing all memories of a team that was 0-6, 2-10, and didn't go over .500 until the 41st game of the season.

What you may not have noticed is that their run this month has come with very little help from their starting pitching:

Josh Beckett 201.7121.013412200.7140.40.98.6
Tim Wakefield 105.8217.0291123101.8821.11.65.3
John Lackey 216.1414.7221022161.6361.21.29.8
Andrew Miller 217.9013.7181221132.1221.37.22.0
Jon Lester 000.004.0000150.250.02.311.3
Kyle Weiland 0013.504.0861222.

Josh Beckett has continued to be outstanding, and Jon Lester has pitched only 4 innings this month because of a lat injury. After those two, the Red Sox starting pitchers have a 7.11 ERA in 10 games - AND THEY'RE 8-2 IN THOSE GAMES! That's partial luck, of course. On Sunday, the Red Sox scored only 1 run, and won. On Monday, they gave up 10. It's hard to imagine them having a better record if they'd received more resonable starting pitching, but they might. In their two losses this month, they've scored 13 runs.

Fortunately for the Red Sox, it will get better. Josh Beckett showed no ill effects of the hyperextended knee that made him unable to appear in the All-Star game, pitching 8 shutout innings on Sunday. Jon Lester will return on Friday, and Clay Buchholz should return in August.

Other than that though? It's tough to get a read on John Lackey - those peripherals don't line up to a 6.14 ERA at all, but he's been hit hard all season. Every time he appears to be getting back on track, he takes a step backwards. The Red Sox have Kyle Weiland on the mound tonight, in what will likely be his last start before Lester takes his roster spot. Tim Wakefield turns 45 two weeks from today. After three very solid starts, Andrew Miller has been terrible in his last two, walking 9 and striking out nobody. At least 40% of their starts in August and September are going to come from this group.

Still, it's hard to be negative about a team that's winning just about every day. First of all, the bullpen has been excellent recently:

Alfredo Aceves 201.3213.7720380.7320.02.05.3
Dan Wheeler 203.009.0431170.5561.01.07.0
Matt Albers 100.008.35004111.080.04.311.9
Jonathan Papelbon 004.508.09412121.3751.12.313.5
Daniel Bard 000.007.7400290.7830.02.310.6
Franklin Morales 000.005.0100140.
Bobby Jenks 000.002.0100010.
Randy Williams 0013.502.03301220.04.59.0
Scott Atchison 004.502.0210111.

Bard hasn't given up a run since May 23, and is continuing to establish himself as one of the better relief pitchers in the game. The real story in the bullpen, though, is Alfredo Aceves. He's been the guy to pick up the slack when the starting picher gets knocked out early, or the game ends up going 16 innings. Because of the starters' struggles, Aceves has needed to be a workhorse this month, and he has delivered in a big way. It's tough to imagine why the Yankees let Aceves go. Sure, maybe he's a bit of a headcase, and he has an injury history, but he wasn't even a free agent - he was still under team control, and the Yankees simply decided not to offer him arbitration. On a $650,000 salary, Aceves is arguably the difference between the Red Sox being ahead of the Yankees and behind them.

Enough about the pitching though:

Dustin Pedroia 706125606950.4100.4860.803
Jacoby Ellsbury 655823424690.3970.4460.741
Kevin Youkilis 6152195025120.3650.4590.577
Darnell McDonald 28236202460.2610.3930.609
Josh Reddick 4539102135110.2560.3330.590
David Ortiz 504194029110.2200.3600.463
Carl Crawford 552000000.4000.4000.400
Jarrod Saltalamacchia 38327012590.2190.3160.469
Adrian Gonzalez 6555154019130.2730.3850.400
Marco Scutaro 5750110037100.2200.3160.400
Yamaico Navarro 21194101240.2110.2860.421
Jason Varitek 23204400260.2000.2730.400
Drew Sutton 751000210.2000.4290.200
J.D. Drew 45386200690.1580.2670.211
Andrew Miller 220000020.0000.0000.000
Tim Wakefield 220000020.0000.0000.000
Josh Beckett 330000010.0000.0000.000
Team Total 58750514234426711110.2810.3740.519

Led by Dustin Pedroia, the Sox have scored 98 runs in their 14 games this month, four times scoring double digits. The Red Sox team OPS of .893 this month would put them 9th best *player* in the American League this season. What makes it so incredible is their depth - despite an "average: month so far from Adrian Gonzalez, they have enough other big bats to pick up the slack. Even the oft-maligned catching due of Saltalamachhia and Varitek has produced some pop in spite of low batting averages. Hitting like that will cover a LOT of flaws in the run prevention department.

Tables made with TABLEIZER.

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