What’s wrong with the Boston Red Sox

Is it Chris Sale, the Red Sox's offense?

By on April 23, 2019

The Red Sox are in a position no one expected them to be after winning a total of 119 games last season, including postseason play. Through 23 games, the team is 9-14, six games behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East.

The main problem for the Red Sox is their starting pitching. The starting pitching’s ERA is 5.68, the worst since 1931 and the second worst in the MLB according to ESPN.com.

Red Sox ace Chris Sale is not living up to expectations He has finished in the top five in the AL Cy Young for five consecutive seasons, but he is not having that type of year so far. This is the worst Sale has ever pitched in his nine year MLB career.

After giving up four runs in five innings in the team’s 8-0 loss to the New York Yankees on Wednesday, Arpil 17, Sale’s record dropped to 0-4 on the year and his ERA to 7.43. He had a total of four losses in 27 starts last season.

“I just flat-out stink right now,” Sale said after the game. “I don’t know what it is. When you’re going good, it’s good. When you’re going bad, it’s pretty bad.”

For me, the issue with Sale is that he doesn’t have much confidence in his fastball. He only threw his fastball 35.5 percent of the time in his start vs the Yankees.

When he did throw his fastball, it was not effective. The Yankees went 5-8 versus Sale on his four-seamer when they saw it.

Sale threw his slider 49.5 percent of time versus the Yankees, the highest rate of his career, according to ESPN.com. He had much more success with his slider, as Yankees batters went 1-8 with three strikeouts.

I would like, going forward, for Sale to establish his fastball early in the count. This will allow Sale to use his slider as his pitch to put hitters away with two strikes, where it’s lethal.

The Red Sox offense hasn’t been any better than the pitching staff. Though their offense ranks 20th in the MLB, a drop off from last season where they were the best team in baseball.

The offense is struggling because their best player, Mookie Betts has got off to a poor start. He is batting .244 through 23 games, and had only one hit in 15 plate appearances versus the team’s two series versus the Baltimore Orioles and Yankees.

Betts is starting to get frustrated with how he is playing.

“Basically, what I’m doing is unacceptable,” Betts said after the teams 8-1 loss to the Orioles on Monday, April 15. “I have to figure out a way to get something done and help the team.”

I would like for Betts to be more aggressive earlier in the count. Betts has seen over 350 pitches this season, and out of 193 players who have seen over 200 pitches this season, he has swung at the eighth fewest pitches in the league, according to Baseball Prospectus.

Good news for Red Sox fans is that Betts is starting to snap out of his slump. In the three game series versus the Rays this weekend, Betts had six hits in 12 plate appearances. He will look to carry this momentum when the team begins its 10 game homestand on Tuesday versus the Detroit Tigers

Betts is not the only person to blame for teams struggles on offense to start the season. The Red Sox are not getting any production from any of their second basemen.

Dustin Pedroia, Eduardo Nunez and Brock Holt are a combined 10-80 with no home runs and six RBIs. All three are currently on the injured list, so Tzu-Wei Lin will be the starting second baseman going forward.

Outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. needs to step up his offense. He is batting .141 and has only nine hits and two RBIs in 71 plate appearances. If Bradley continues to struggle, manager Alex Cora should consider benching him.

These players all bat at the bottom of the order. The team will need all four to set up their play because you can’t rely on your top players every night to give you offense.

This has resulted in the Red Sox having the third worst run differential in the league at -41, according to ESPN.com. Only the Miami Marlins and Baltimore Orioles have a worse run differential than the Red Sox.

Even though the Red Sox are not off to the start they want to, there is no need to panic.

The New York Mets got off to a hot start last year winning 12 of their first 15 games, but finished second to last in the National League East with a 77-85 record. The Los Angeles Dodgers got off to their worst start in franchise history at 16-26, but finished the season at 92-71.

The team responded well after getting swept by the Yankees during the week. The team won three consecutive games this weekend versus the Rays, improving its record to 9-13 before dropping Tuesday’s game to the Tigers.

The Red Sox should be back to their winning ways during their 10-game homestand against the Tigers, Rays and Oakland Athletics.

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