Quick. What Red Sox pitcher led the team in strikeouts-per-inning in 1986?
If you answered Roger Clemens, that year’s Cy Young and MVP winner after his 24-4 masterpiece of a season, you’d be wrong. The answer is Bruce Hurst, who struck out 8.6 per 9 innings to Clemens’ 8.4.
What makes Hurst’s hiring today as a special instructor for the Red Sox more encouraging is his unique status as one of the few left-handed starters to find success in Fenway Park. In the six seasons from 1983-88, Hurst outperformed the league and team ERAs in Fenway four times, and outperformed the league average five times. In 1983 and 1986-88, he actually pitched better at Fenway than on the road.
1983 was Hurst’s first full-time season in the bigs, and after 1988 he left for San Diego. During that time, he posted a 3.89 ERA at Fenway, compared to a team average of 4.18 and a league average of 4.56.
Why is this important? The answer is after the jump.
Hurst’s job is to scout and work with minor leaguers, granted, but the more time Jon Lester can spend with Hurst this spring training, the better.