When it comes to slow starts, I believe I am a patient person. Because they occur early, early slumps are easy to overlook. Even though the same slump could occur in July, no one is surprised because some players may have been hitting well up to that point. Mike Napoli should be allowed time to get out of his two-month-long slump. He was known for being streaky and could quickly go from having to carry an offense to going through tough times. Boston seems to be seeing the fruits of his perseverance.
As I mentioned, I believe I am patient. We are now close to June. We have to face the facts and accept what is happening with this club, not hope that things will change. Since spring training, the problems with the starting rotation have been exposed and documented. The cliche used was that the team had “five aces,” though in reality they had collected a group of solid middle-of-the-rotation guys. They have all failed to perform, regardless of their name. The hard question is: Why? Every person has a different reason.
Clay Buchholz has been inconsistent throughout his career. While he is pitching well, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if he gets lit up in his next appearance. His career has been plagued by inconsistency from start to finish. There are no signs that this is changing. I find Rick Porcello’s struggles more surprising than anyone else. Although it is obvious that Porcello moved from Detroit’s pitcher-friendly park to Fenway, his two worst starts were at Fenway to Orioles or Angels, it doesn’t mean that he can’t struggle. Porcello is very focused on maintaining his sinker, and when he struggles to pitch, that pitch stays up. To get him back on track, it should only take a few minutes to clean that sinker. Wade Miley might have made a significant improvement since he came over from the National League. His command and performance have improved. Although he won’t be an all-star pitcher, I believe he will be a good starter going forward.
If I had to, I’d continue to support these three pitchers moving forward. Three other pitchers have started for the Sox this season: Justin Masterson and Steven Wright.
Here is where my patience runs out.
Masterson is currently disabled due to a shoulder injury. However, this was more to allow him some rest. Masterson did not perform well in most of his starts. He showed mediocre stuff, and mediocre control. He and the club would benefit greatly from a permanent move to the bullpen. He would be able to concentrate less on how long his outings are and more on his ability to regain his form and confidence. This would allow Matt Barnes, the outstanding pitcher, to pitch longer and more meaningful innings in late games.
Wright has done an admirable job in filling in for the Sox this season, but that’s all he really is: a fill-in. It is dangerous to rely on Wright every fifth day. I don’t think they feel comfortable with that.
Kelly’s problems are something that should be addressed in the minor leagues. Although the stuff is obvious, his poor command and poor pitch selection are what have cost him. It is now possible to ask how much influence his former St. Louis Yadier molina catcher had on his success. Molina is an exceptional game caller and influencer on his pitchers, so his absence is cause for concern. Kelly’s ability to learn the art and skill of pitching is clearly lacking. These things could be taught to him in Pawtucket, which would help his development.
Henry Owens was the only pitcher who took batting practice on Tuesday afternoon. This is bunting practice for a possible NL game. Kelly pitched 1.2 innings, allowing seven earned runs. Owens pitched six innings, allowing only one earned run. Eduardo Rodriguez pitched one day ahead of Owens. He has also been spotted bunting this year. If Kelly is demoted, these two would be the perfect pair to take his place.
Owens may not be ready to play in the big leagues, but he has some issues with command that I would like to see resolved. Rodriguez is close to being ready, as his command and other things have proven that he deserves a chance in the bigs. They are close to Kelly and Ben Cherington, Owens BP’s general manager. This is a sign of something.
These moves will not solve all the Red Sox’s problems. No. It doesn’t have the right to, fortunately in a division up for grabs. They just need to have a better chance of winning.