Too Much Relief

6, 4, 6, 5, 6.1, 4.2, 6.

That’s not the combination to Theo Epstein’s locker in the executive gym at Fenway, or some sort of mathematical sequence representing the number of men the Red Sox typically leave on base in the first three innings of any given game.  Rather, it’s the distance our starting pitching has gone,  (beginning with yesterday) all the way back to Josh Beckett’s last start prior to the break against the Texas Rangers.  Looking at the inverse, this means that (forget the natural rest given to the staff by the ASB) the relief corps has pitched 3, 5, 3, 3, 5.1, 3.1, and 2 innings, for a total of 24.2 over seven games (an average of 3.5 innings per game).

There’s not much point in simplistically multiplying this trend of innings-load by the number of remaining games, but the simple fact is that, as we all know from watching recent contests, the starting staff is not doing the job.  They are not going deep into games, they are barely reaching the "quality start" level in general, at least by statistical definition.  This will have a direct and negative effect on the team going forward, unless patterns shift.  Hideki Okajima has pitched in 41 games, Papelbon 33, Lopez 35, Snyder 29, Donnelly 27 prior to getting hurt.  Manny Delcarmen has made 12 appearances, and 11 in less than a month since his recall.  And though the ‘pen has been basically fantastic, the expectations need to be lowered if they continue to be taxed, to be relied upon to keep games within reach because either the starters fail or the bats sag.  For this fan, the most worrisome aspect of the second half is this extension of the relief corps due to starting pitching mediocrity.  If this pattern of 5-6 inning starts doesn’t abate, I sense trouble coming.  I trust Theo understands this as well.  If there is one move that can be made not involving Roy Oswalt, let it be for an extra arm for the bullpen.

6 comments… add one
  • indeed we saw the effect such a pattern took and has taken on the Yanks’ bullpen. I really do feel that if the Sox have to worry about anything it is the pitching, the loss of Schilling, the inconsistency of Wake and the gradual transformation of Julian Tavarez into…Julian Tavarez, will put a strain on the pen. I think the hitting will and is coming around with Manny due for an insane second half.
    here’s an idea to improve the bullpen: unload Lugo for salary relief and a bullpen arm. Go ahead with Cora and short for the rest of the season. Hey, you’ve been the best team in baseball with Lugo being awful, and you have a lot left on his salary. WHy not try to kill two birds with one stone?

    Nick-YF July 15, 2007, 12:22 pm
  • The problem is, who the hell is going to take Julio Lugo unless the Sox pick up 80% of his remaining contract? It’s a lot of money for a pinch-runner.

    AndrewYF July 15, 2007, 12:41 pm
  • The last two weeks gives some hope that Lugo might be over a hump. If he keeps hitting just a tad, the Sox don’t need to move him, they need to find an arm for something less than an everyday player. They have a deep minor league system – there’s been talk of Lidge, and if he could be had for WMP + one high-grade prospect (not named Clay or Jacoby), that’s a go. I wonder how high Houston’s price has climbed? Probably VERY.

    SF July 15, 2007, 1:21 pm
  • wilymo’s not exactly trade bait sf…i mean he plays like bait smells, but you better sweeten the pot if you want lidge…maybe with clay or jacoby

    dc July 16, 2007, 12:36 am
  • No kidding, dc. I agree – there are, however, a lot of very good prospects in the Sox org. not named Clay or Jacoby. Hell, give them a couple of guys. The Sox have a deep minor league system.

    SF July 16, 2007, 6:36 am
  • i was just goofing on you with my first comment sf…i know you’d hate to part with your favorite player, wilymo ;)
    anyway, i’m not sure i’ve been close enough to the discussion to understand houston’s motivation for a deal…and you’re right, from what i understand, the sox are loaded in the minor leagues…no need to give up a top guy…
    what’s troubling [for sox fans anyway], and i’ve seen this echo througout some of you commentary is their recent prolonged stuggles after the torrid start…freakishly, they’re starting to look like the yankees…shaky rotation, overworked bullpen, injuries [esp. pitching], misfortune [i hate to use the word luck], untimely hitting, key players in slumps, and so on…i know this worries you, but remember this, these are not the 78 yankees…i do see them making some noise, but they are currently 1 game over .500, 9 away from the sox, and 8 out of the wild card…i’m not exactly brimming with confidence…

    dc July 16, 2007, 8:47 am

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