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.