This is what good teams do. They rebound. Which is what happened after a couple of weeks where the Boston Red Sox struggled during a disappointing home stand against the Minnesota Twins and the Toronto Blue Jays.
After starting the season with an impressive 20-8 record, the team had recently slumped, winning only two games during a recent 10 game stretch. It has been a combination of poor hitting, defense and mostly starting pitching.
As significant as it is with the Red Sox winning the last five games on the road, the most telling piece has been the ability of key starters Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz to go deeper into games. Lester has done exactly what you want your ace stopper to do when a losing streak has occurred; stop it.
Lester’s last two starts, both wins by the 29-year-old lefty, have seen him give the Red Sox 16 innings with only nine hits and two runs. He has struck out 10 batters and more importantly has not walked one in his past two starts. When Lester doesn’t walk a batter this season, he has a 3-0 record.
Buchholz hasn’t had quite the same success in his last two starts, but he has still managed to pitch deep into games for Boston, giving the bullpen a bit of break. His last two starts have seen him give the Red Sox a total of 15 innings with only 10 hits and four runs.
Combined, Lester and Buchholz are 12-0 on the season and the Red Sox are 15-3 in starts that both pitchers have made this season. As good as that stat is, it also speaks to the fact that the Red Sox are 12-14 in games started by the other pitchers in the rotation.
If the Red Sox are going to have the opportunity to win the American League East this season, they will need to simply get more effective innings out of Ryan Dempster, John Lackey and Felix Doubront. Dempster’s last two outings have been his worst two since joining the Red Sox. He has last only 9.2 innings while giving up 15 hits and 11 runs. Given how well Dempster started the season, it has to be a slight concern for the Red Sox at this point.
Lackey has managed to keep the Red Sox in most of his starts, but the team is only 2-4 in games that he has pitched after today’s win. In Lackey’s last two starts before today, he had pitched 11.1 innings with 15 hits and six earned runs, numbers that will have to improve as the season moves forward.
Doubront’s struggles have continued even with Red Sox manager John Farrell and pitching coach Juan Nieves’ efforts to fix Doubront. The Red Sox will need more consistency out of Doubront in order to protect the bullpen.
The Red Sox now travel to take on the Chicago White Sox in a three-game series that will start Monday, hoping to continue the positive momentum.