The Red Sox are having a tough time of it this season. They are 9-20 sitting last in the AL East. They are ninth in the AL in runs scored per game at 4.59 (we are 2 spots back at 4.50) and dead last in the AL in runs allowed per game at 6.03 (we are eighth at 4.50). With Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez out for the season, I don’t see things getting better in a hurry.
I sent off some questions to Matt Collins manager at Over the Monster, SB’s Red Sox blog and he was nice enough to send some answers.
Starting pitching seems to be the Red Sox biggest problem to this point of the season? Any chance that it might improve?
The Red Sox haven’t really been good at anything, but yes the starting pitching is easily the biggest issue. They just simply don’t have major-league talent. As far as improvement goes, I guess that depends on how you want to look at it. There’s certainly no savior coming. Chris Sale is out until the middle of next year and Eduardo Rodriguez isn’t coming back this year. There aren’t really any top prospects ready to come up except for maybe Tanner Houck, and even he is seen by most as being a late-inning reliever rather than a starter. That said, there is some chance to improve simply because it can’t get any worse.
On that line, can you give us a quick scouting report on the starting pitching we are likely to see?
Game one they have Kyle Hart going. He is the closest thing they have had to a prospect to come up and join the team, though he wasn’t all that heralded. He’s a nice story as a former 19th round pick who dominated the minors, but the stuff just doesn’t look major-league quality. He’s sort of your stereotypical “crafty” lefty who doesn’t have big velocity but throws a bunch of pitches that are all pretty solid. He’s struggled to start his career, and he really needs to be on the edges of the zone or else he’s going to shelled by pretty much any lineup.
Nathan Eovaldi is going for the second game. He’s the ace of the staff, so that tells you all you need to know about this staff. That said, I think he’s better than his numbers this year show. He’s known for his big velocity as his fastball sits around 98 most of the time, but the real key is how his secondaries work. If he’s locating his cutter, curveball and splitter, or at least two of those three, then he’ll be great. If not, you’ll see a lot of doubles and homers.
The finale is a special Johnny Wholestaff appearance, which has been quite common this year. The bullpen game will probably be started by Colten Brewer, who’s actually been pretty solid in three inning appearances, but whatever comes after that figures to be ugly.
How’s our old friend Kevin Pillar doing? Has he driven you to drink by chasing pitches well off the plate yet? You getting the highlight reel catches?
Pillar has actually been one of the few bright spots on the roster, and it hasn’t really been the defense. He has been good with the glove, but with Jackie Bradley Jr. already in Boston it’s been mostly in the corners. But at the plate he’s been much better than expected. A big part of that is because he’s been able to play mostly against lefties, but with Andrew Benintendi out he’s in an everyday role and still hitting as well as he ever has. He could be traded this week, though.
Rafael Devers is having a rough start to the season, both offensively and defensively, what’s going on with him?
Devers has had a rough start, but it’s not all that concerning to me. He looked to be swinging his way out of it last week. He’s a free-swinger, so when he’s going bad it tends to spiral quickly. But he also digs himself out of it quickly with a few good games. He’s still one of the most talented young hitters in the game. Defensively, there are still questions but I am one of the more optimistic people with respect to his glove. He makes a lot of errors and that’s certainly a major problem, but to me they seem to be on the mental side like pausing too long before a throw or misjudging short hops rather than just physically not being able to hold down the position.
How are Red Sox fans feeling about the Mookie Betts deal. Alex Verdugo looks like he’s going to be a terrific player for years to come.
Still bad! Turns out when you trade the best player the franchise has seen since Ted Williams who also happens to be wildly likable and charismatic, people don’t love it. That said, Verdugo has not seemed to be affected by the pressure of essentially replacing Betts. I still have my questions about him, but he looks like a solid four-win player for a long time. It’s not Betts, but it’s very good.
What do you think of Ron Roenicke as manager? Strengths? Weaknesses?
Roenicke has been sort of the punching bag around Boston with this season going into the toilet, which is both part of the deal with being a manager and also unfair. I’ve been perplexed by some of his decisions here and there, but at the end of the day this roster is just bad. That’s it. Nothing the manager does could have made this a playoff team. That said, Roenicke was seen as a one-year stopover even before this season got started, and nothing that has happened this season would make one think differently.
Are you expecting any moves at the trade deadline?
Well, they already made one in trading Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree to the Phillies, but I would expect more, too. There just aren’t many clear sellers this year, so the Red Sox can take advantage there. Pretty much everyone will be on the table, with J.D. Martinez being the biggest name that has some likelihood of being dealt. But guys like Pillar, Matt Barnes, Mitch Moreland, Jackie Bradley Jr. and others could be on the table as well.
Thanks for this Matt.