Let’s assume that over a 40-game period or so, a starting lineup had the following numbers (BA/OBP/SLG):
Not bad. Pretty darn good, in fact.
Let’s further assume that your six principal starters over that period posted these numbers (ERA/WHIP/BAA):
Obviously, these are the numbers of the Red Sox’ starting nine and starting six since June 1. That doesn’t look like a first-place team to me.
Like always — like in 2006, 2002, 2001, 2000, etc., etc., etc. — the
Boston Red Sox have somehow managed to not have enough starting
pitching to sustain a season-long hold on first place. With the
exception of Daisuke Matsuzaka (No. 2) and Kason Gabbard (No. 6, and
benefiting from a small sample size), the trio of Josh Beckett (1), Tim
Wakefield (4) and Julian Tavarez (5, not including tonight’s disaster) have not gotten the job done.
Since June 1, Matsuzaka — not Beckett — has been the ace of the staff.
Add to that the fact that the offense, too, is struggling. Although
individually, the numbers look solid, and their rate stats have not
changed much (.278/.360/.446 before June 1; .273/.355/.432 after), the
Sox have driven in 100 fewer runs in 400 fewer at-bats. Instead of
driving in .150 runs per at-bat, they’re driving in .125 — a .025
difference that translates to 75 runs (or more than seven lost wins)
over the course of a season.
I firmly believe that these numbers have to improve. Nine of the last
11 Sox losses have been by one run. Considering these are the same
players and the same manager who won an inordinate number of one-run
games early in the season, luck has to turn around. Josh Beckett is not
a 4-ERA pitcher. Curt Schilling will likely (hopefully) force Tavarez
out of the rotation and solidify the front end while Gabbard fortifies
the back. The lineup looks pretty good, and perhaps a solidification of the pitching will allow the hitters to relax a little more and get their clutchiness back.
But I also firmly belive this club needs a shot in the arm — or, more
accurately, a shot in the arms. They need another starter — a real
one, not Javier Vasquez or Jose Contreras. Is Oswalt available? I hope so because the Sox need to acquire him, or someone of his caliber, and if it costs Buchholz and Ellsbury with additional prospects, I might just pull that trigger. This team is too good otherwise to let languish, as happened at the deadline last year (and rightfully so, I’ll add. That was an entirely different situation).
We’ve 12 days and change left. Theo Epstein has less than two weeks to make this team play like a division leader again.