One month into the season, David Price hasn’t exactly been the pitcher that the Red Sox had hoped he would be.
The 30 year-old ace boasts a 3.17 career ERA in his nine years in the league. It’s part of the reason that the Sox signed him to a seven year, $217 million contract last December. At 6.14, his ERA so far this year is nearly double his career mark.
The Sox’ “number two” starter Clay Buchholz has been absolutely atrocious to the surprise of no one. He’s 0-3 with a 6.51 ERA and if you weren’t sick of him before this year then you definitely are now.
Carson Smith, who many anticipated would be Boston’s best middle reliever in 2016, hasn’t seen any action yet after suffering an injury back in Spring Training.
Via Boston Herald, he’s expected to be activated again on Tuesday, although John Farrell plans on easing him into the lineup:
“We’ve got to be mindful that Carson comes back to us with a limited rehab (stint), so we’ve got to be careful on his frequency of use,” Farrell said. “It’s not being ruled out that we would go with an extra pitcher for the short term.”
Eduardo Rodriguez, who many hoped would develop into a number two or three starter, has also started the season on the DL with a knee injury. He’ll likely need a couple more rehab starts in Pawtucket before he’s ready to make a comeback.
Pablo Sandoval has been twice the disaster that anyone could have expected. After showing up to Spring Training with a gut even bigger than his contract, Panda made a brief appearance this year before mysteriously landing himself on the DL for the remainder of the season. And by brief appearance I mean he played in only three games and still managed to lose a battle with his belt on live television.
Despite all of these unfortunate events, the Red Sox find themselves in first place in the AL East after winning seven of their last eight including a sweep of the Yankees this past weekend.
Why? Well, first of all they’re hitting the shit out of the ball. Just like we all anticipated, this team doesn’t have any issues offensively. They’re second in all of Major League Baseball in team batting average, third in runs, second in hits, first in doubles, fourth in triples, third in on-base percentage, and fifth in slugging percentage.
They’re also first in stolen bases, which wasn’t a strong point for them last year. They finished 2015 with 71 steals. With 22 after the first month, they’re on pace to nearly double that total.
As far as the pitching, guys who weren’t expected to step up have managed to produce some solid outings.
It’s also worth mentioning that David Price hasn’t been quite as bad as his ERA indicates. He’s still 4-0 and matched his career high for strikeouts with 14 against the Braves on April 26th.
Rick Porcello has apparently returned to 2014 form and has been the undisputed ace thus far. After a rough 2015, he’s started this year with a 5-0 record and a 2.76 ERA.
Steven Wright is only 2-2 but leads the team with a 1.37 ERA.
The bullpen so far has been inconsistent but should improve once guys get healthy. Craig Kimbrel is beginning to settle in as the dominant closer that he’s been for years.
So can the Sox keep up their recent success? I say yes, for the simple fact that they’re only going to get better once Rodriguez and Smith return to the lineup. We also have to keep in mind that David Price isn’t going to be mediocre all season. April is historically his worst month, so I see nothing but improvement from him the rest of the way.
Knowing that the team isn’t at full strength, there’s no reason not to be encouraged by what we’ve seen so far. Combine that with the weakness of the American League, and it looks like the Red Sox might be playing meaningful baseball all summer for the first time in three years.
Follow Jack Bardsley on Twitter @BostonsBigFour
Pedroia/Bogaerts (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports via bosoxinjection.com)
Kimbrel (Elise Amendola/AP Photo via MassLive.com)