Good signs in Boston

Good signs in Boston

Good signs in Boston

So, when you get a plethora of injured outfielders, a pitcher who would rather golf than pitch sometimes and a rookie who is threatening to take over third base, what do you have? Well, the Boston Red Sox of course. 2012 has started out the same way for Boston that 2011 did, slow. The expectations of last year were perhaps much greater as the acquisitions of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez were supposed to be monumental, but only Gonzalez has produced as Crawford remains injured. With the way the AL East has been going, Baltimore and Tampa Bay are going nowhere else but up. Who would have thought going into mid-May that the Red Sox would be battling the New York Yankees to get out of the cellar? Not me certainly.

The one thing that has plagued Boston so far is what has hurt many teams, pitching. The Red Sox pitching staff sits at 28th overall in ERA at 4.89. Jon Lester leads the Sox in ERA at 3.71 and WHIP at 1.27 while Clay Buchholz leads the team in wins with four. Ouch. There's been a bit of deflation in the Red Sox's rotation, especially after last September when it was very apparent. Josh Beckett and Jon Lester have been struggling and with Clay Buchholz returning from an injury, Boston will need more dependability from the fourth and fifth guys. However, Daniel Bard (3-4, 4.30 ERA) has been having problems coming from a set-up man role to a starter and Felix Doubront (4-1, 4.46 ERA) has been shaky at best. Fortunately (well I say this lightly) for Red Sox fans, Daisuke Matsuzaka is scheduled to make two more rehab starts so he may be back sooner than later. The closer role has been an absolute mess. Andrew Bailey, the man who could literally shatter his shoulder opening a car door, has been lost for the season. In his place, Bobby Valentine decided Alfredo Aceves was the best fit. Aceves, who was probably Boston's most reliable relief guy last season, seemed like a perfect match for the role. However, it was just flat out ugly. Aceves started off shaky and throughout the season has calmed down a bit. Despite his 5.74 ERA, Aceves has seven saves and will try to improve in this temporary role. The rest of the bullpen is a bit more stable, but Vicente Padilla and Franklin Morales continue to struggle with their command.

Offensively, Boston has been demolishing the ball. In their past 10 games, the Red Sox have gone 6-4 with two close games that resulted in losses to Kansas City. They do however have a two game split with the Rays and then head to Philadelphia. Tough games are a part of any team's season, but lately, Boston has been turning it around and Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz have been a huge part of it. The rookie, Will Middlebrooks, has been pulling more than his weight and has earned serious consideration to take over third, even when Kevin Youkilis comes back. There have been rumors that Boston is considering even trading Youkilis for starting pitching, particularly left handers. In the 12 games that Middlebrooks has played, he's already hit four home runs and has 14 RBIs. Regardless, Boston has been seeing the ball extremely well, ranking 2nd in runs (194), 3rd in batting average (.276), 5th in on base percentage (.339) and 4th in slugging percentage (.460). David Ortiz is currently leading the team in every offensive category (he's currently batting .353). Ryan Sweeney, who has become one of Boston's best acquisitions this season, is doing very well, hitting .319 with 12 RBIs and 13 doubles. Boston has always been a power house team and the injuries of Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford seem to cause little concern as the Sox are getting the job done.

So what does this say for the rest of the season? Well, you can score 134 runs in a game, but if your pitching gives up 135, you're still going to lose. The bullpen for Boston, aside from its little black marks, has been pretty solid. The starting rotation has been struggling hard and with very good outings recently from Jon Lester (a complete game against the Mariners) and Josh Beckett (shutting the M's out for 7 innings), it may be what the Red Sox need to bounce back. The Red Sox's bats have been tremendous and show no signs of slowing down. The season looks like it may be turning around for the Sox, but there are still a lot of games to play. I also get the distinct feeling we'll be hearing a lot more about Will Middlebrooks as this season progresses, and perhaps even talk of a Rookie of the Year Award race. What still lingers is the ache  of September 2011. That is a feeling every Red Sox player wants to get rid of, but in order to do so, they must play with full conviction to avoid another collapse.

Be sure to check out other great articles at MLB Recaps.

By The Baseball Page
Wednesday, 16 May 2012

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