The Boston Red Sox have only played 42 games of their 162-game 2023 slate, but it’s safe to say that it has already been quite a hectic roller coaster ride. The Sox got off to a fairly slow start, went on an eight-game win streak, only to follow that up by losing six of their next seven games to pretty much erase all the progress they had made.
In a nutshell, this is pretty much what was expected of the Sox heading into the season. They have a decent lineup, but their worrisome group of pitchers would determine the fate of this team. On some nights, the pitching staff delivers, and it looks like the Sox could be a true playoff contender. But on other nights, the lack of depth and star power is such a glaring hole that it’s surprising this team even has a 22-20 record.
As the pitching goes in the 2023 season, so do the Red Sox, and if you have any hope that this team can make something of this season, that is an extremely concerning development. The main reason for that is because as Boston has cooled off from their recent win streak, their pitching staff has once again been the main culprit for their struggles.
Red Sox pitching struggles prove this team is not playoff worthy
The last time we checked in on the Red Sox, it was fairly shocking to see just how well their pitching staff was performing. The lineup was hitting well, yes, but starters were limiting the amount of runs they were allowing, and the bullpen was protecting every lead they found themselves with. But in the blink of an eye, everything that was going well for the Sox here has quickly come crashing back down to earth.
During the Red Sox eight-game win streak, their pitching staff was giving up just 4.3 runs per game, which is a pretty solid average all things considered. But over their last seven games, that average has spiked up to 6.9 runs per game, which obviously isn’t good. And even worse, the struggles are coming from seemingly every pitcher Boston has.
To start the season, Boston’s bullpen was bailing out the starting rotation, but that isn’t even the case anymore. The Sox starting rotation is still arguably the worst in the majors, as none of their top six starters have an ERA below five currently. There are reasons for optimism, as Chris Sale has thrown at least six innings in each of his past three starts, while allowing just five total runs, but these spurts of optimism are usually short lived.
The real problem is the bullpen, which looked unreal early in the season, only to completely fall apart over the past week or so. The trio of Kenley Jansen, Josh Winckowski, and John Schreiber has been so effective, but each of these guys have had their struggles, which isn’t good because pretty much everyone else out of the bullpen has been awful this season.
Jansen has followed up his prestigious achievement of joining the 400-save club by blowing a pair of saves against the St. Louis Cardinals, causing his ERA to jump from 0.77 to 4.26. Winckowski also fell apart in one of those aforementioned losses to the Cardinals, giving up three runs over just two-thirds of an inning, and now Schreiber is likely headed to the injured list after being pulled from his relief appearance in Boston’s latest loss to the Seattle Mariners with a lat injury.
This isn’t particularly good, because again, everyone other than Chris Martin, who has been great over 11 appearances, has been awful. Richard Bleier has a 5.79 ERA, while Ryan Brasier, who was recently designated for assignment, had pitched in 20 games and posted a 7.29 ERA. Kaleb Ort, who is in Triple-A right now but might have to get called back up, has posted a 7.30 ERA over 12 appearances. Getting rid of Brasier is long overdue, but who will actually replace him?
There were so many question marks on Boston’s pitching staff entering the season, and those question marks have been exacerbated by injuries and poor pitching. It would be one thing if the injured guys had been effective, but for the most part, they haven’t. There aren’t any clear reinforcements coming on to help this group out, aside from maybe Garrett Whitlock.
That is just what the Red Sox are, though. Nobody should have been under the false pretense that they were going to be a championship contender this season, and while their win streak was fun, it has proved to be a fluke rather than a statement that this team intended on actually winning this season. And based on everything we have seen so far, it looks like things are going to be getting worse before they get better anytime soon.