I’ve really put off writing about this because I’ve been ignoring the truth: the Red Sox are not the contenders we thought they were.
Now don’t get me wrong, this team has been stellar and they have the best record in baseball. They have nothing to be ashamed of, but the issue comes back to what it has been the past two seasons if not longer: a red-hot offense can only take a team so far. The Sox offense which has been led by JD Martinez and Mookie Betts is batting a collective 0.267 with a 0.792 OPS with 120 homers and 416 RBI’s (prior to the July 1st game with the Yankees). This offense has been borderline unstoppable for more than a game or two considering their averaging 5.2 runs per game. The main struggle for this team has been left-handed pitching which they addressed by adding Steve Pearce who went 2-4 in his Red Sox debut. So, all things considered, this Sox offense is looking great as JBJ begins to heat up behind a red-hot Betts and Martinez, but the pitching is making this so much more difficult than it has to be.
The Red Sox starters have been sub-par at best, and for who the staff is made up of that is concerning. Chris Sale is the exception, dominant as ever with a 2.44 ERA and a 0.888 WHIP, and somehow he is 8-4… The most runs he has given up this season is 7 to the Astros which isn’t what you want to see, but at least against a good team. Other than that all of his losses have been relatively close games that the offense didn’t quite perform up to standards in. Outside of Sale, the numbers are truly underwhelming. Not another starter and only 5 other active pitchers have an ERA below 3.00 giving the team a hefty 3.50 ERA. Being considers a “Big 3” team in the AL alongside the Yankees and Astros who have a 3.43 and a 2.83 ERA respectfully, you’re not where you want or need to be. Especially when you’re big name free agent from 2 seasons ago can’t throw in those big games against another Big 3 team or gives up 8 runs in a key start for the division lead.
Going into a 7-game series against the Astros or Yankees this October the Red Sox are not in a great spot. Chris Sale and Rick Porcello are the only pitchers I would feel comfortable starting in those games, and other than that you have Davey Tingle Fingers, E-Rod, BJ, or Steven Wright. Not exactly the stellar staff one would hope for. The Red Sox desperately need to trade for both a starter and a reliever prior to the deadline in order to have a shot this season.
Since Marcus Stroman, J.A. Happ, and Chris Archer are likely off the table due to the AL East proximity, I would like to see the Sox pursue either Cole Hamels or Patrick Corbin. Both men could provide that quality starter, but Cole Hamels gives that successful playoff experience this team lacks in the rotation. Hamels contract this year is $23 million and he has a team option next season the Rangers likely wouldn’t use so they should trade him for a low price if the timing is right by the Sox to maximize his worth. Brad Brach is the guy I want to see coming out of the bullpen this October. Trading for him may be difficult because he is in the AL East, but the payoff would be worth it. Finally having a consistent reliever to bridge the gap between a 6 inning start to Kimbrel is my wildest fantasy currently.
The true bottom line is the Red Sox can expect another ALDS exit if their pitching is not addressed. They need another reliable arm out of the rotation and pen in order to combat a possible slowed offense come October. With a month to go until the deadline, the Sox have some options and its time to see Dombrowski make this year work so that all of Boston isn’t depressed watching Houston win another World Series.