The Boston Red Sox started their second series of the young 2014 MLB season against their bitter rivals, the New York Yankees, on Tuesday night. Things did not go well for the defending World Series champions.
Even with Red Sox ace Jon Lester on the bump, the Yankees jumped out to a big lead, getting two runs in the first and another couple of runners across in the third. Boston answered to a certain degree in the fourth win back-to-back solo homers from David Ortiz and Mike Napoli, but the Yankees responded quickly with a big fifth inning that ran Lester out of the game.
Lester had by far his worst outing of the season as he lasted just 4.2 innings, allowing 11 hits, walking four, and giving up eight runs (three earned). He had been rock-steady in his previous four outings for the Red Sox, but his struggles on Tuesday night just added to what has been an ailing rotation for Boston to start this season.
Outside of Lester, the starting pitching for this team has been a real issue. Coming into the eventual 9-3 loss on Tuesday night to the Yankees, the Red Sox had the sixth-worst ERA among starting rotations in baseball at 4.53. The struggles go deeper than that, too. Boston’s starters also have the seventh-worst WHIP in baseball at 1.45, have allowed the third-most home runs on the year at 17, and have the fifth-worst opposing OPS at .792.
The troubling thing about the struggles for the Red Sox rotation is the fact that it’s not just one guy bringing down their overall stats. John Lackey, Felix Doubront, Jake Peavy and Clay Buchholz all have WHIPs over 1.45 on the year and they all, save for Peavy, have ERAs over 5.00 right now.
Buchholz has by far been the worst. In his four starts, he’s averaging just 4.2 innings and only 82.5 pitches per outing. His ERA also sits at an astronomical 7.71 with an equally astronomical 1.93 WHIP to accompany that. The Red Sox were banking on him being back to the form that he was in at the start of last year and he’s been the polar opposite. Meanwhile Lackey has regressed from last year, Doubront has shown his inexperience and Peavy has hardly inspired confidence.
Despite the bad outing on Tuesday night against New York, there’s likely no need to worry about Lester. Sometimes your stuff and/or command just isn’t there on a given night, which seemed to be the case.
As the Red Sox currently sit in the cellar of the AL East, they’re going to need more than just Lester to be reliable as a starter. Sure, the bats have been quiet for the Red Sox as well, but that’s a lot less of a problem if they can stifle the bats of their opponents. That hasn’t been happening, which is largely why they sit struggling at the bottom of the division right now.