The Boston Red Sox have had great output out of some players but there needs to be a little more from a few players
When we think of players that have underwhelmed this season, the first name on the list is Pablo Sandoval. Pablo is in year three of a five year deal paying him $19 million dollars annually. His time in Boston is all but up if it wasn’t beforehand. He can’t hit, he can’t field, he can’t hack it in Beantown anymore. The Red Sox have younger, smarter, better players to handle the hot corner. Still, who needs to show up in the second half?
No Sox pitcher has more to prove than Rick Porcello. Porcello is the reigning Cy Young Award Winner from 2016 posting a 22 – 4 record with a 3.15 ERA and had 189 strike outs in 223 innings of work. It was the most wins, strike outs, and innings pitched in his entire career. Porcello currently sits with a 4 – 11 record with a 4.75 ERA with 109 K’s in 119 1/3rd innings pitched.
Porcello hasn’t always gotten the run support which hasn’t helped but that isn’t going to give him a complete pass. RP has consistently gotten himself into trouble by allowing a plethora of hits and runs in multiple games. RP gave up more than eight hits and four runs only once last year. How does that compare to last season?
Porcello has given up five runs or more in four starts this season including a span of three straight from June 7th through June 17th. Porcello’s 4th loss this season came on May 1st in comparison to last season which didn’t come until September 14th when he had already won 20 games. Porcello needs to build upon the last start that he had where he allowed only one earned run and struck out seven batters. It was the first time that Porcello allowed less than two earned runs in over two months. He last did it on May 6th.
Few players have been able to replicate what Matt Barnes can do when he’s pitching at Fenway Park. Just about anyone who has no Major League experience can do what Barnes does away from home however. At home, Barnes has a stellar 0.95 ERA with 27 strike outs in 19 innings of work. His 5.91 ERA with 14 walks, 22 strike outs, and 14 earned runs in 21 1/3rd innings pitched.
Barnes needs to find consistently more frequently if he’s going to be trusted as the main 8th inning man. Prior to his suspension for almost hitting Manny Machado, he was locked on as the main man to pitch before Sox closer Craig Kimbrel. The Red Sox need to be able to count on him for more than just home games and pitching only at night when he has a 2.17 ERA. In day games? He’s got a 7.15 ERA.
There is no room for a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type pitcher in the bullpen. Not when the Sox are in a very important place in the season right now. Barnes has struggled against some divisional opponents including the Yankees and Blue Jays. It’d certainly be nice for him to figure out how to pitch more efficiently and effectively especially with the Yankees coming into town for four games followed by the, you guessed it, the Blue Jays.
When the Sox added Hanley Ramirez to the roster prior to the 2015 season, they were expecting to get a left field / third baseman hybrid. The outfielder project failed and he hasn’t had to play 3rd base as the Sox added the Panda to man the position. Hanley quickly shifted to being a 1st baseman last season while spending some time as the designated hitter.
The project panned out last season when he had the protection of David Ortiz in the line up. Opposing pitchers are now not as intimidated to pitch to Han Ram as he’s swinging at just about anything. He needs to be more patient at the dish. While he does have the ability to hit home runs, he’s not doing it consistently enough to just him do as he pleases. Consistency and a great second half would be nice to see from him.
Hanley currently this season has a .261/13/34 putting him on pace for just 26 homers and 68 RBI’s which is a far cry from his season last year when he posted .286/30/111. We probably won’t see that again, including next season. The major concern right now is Ramirez’s shoulders which are not 100%. Shutting him down for the rest of the season isn’t the answer. Hanley’s presence will be clutch come playoff time.
Putting pressure on the new guys is never the answer but one thing Andrew Benintendi can’t afford is another off month. The younger is currently slashing .279/12/51 which isn’t bad but we need to see a little bit more from him going forward. He’s got the talent and has the ability to do more. He’s a great fielder as evident by his limited number of errors, just three in 81 games so far.
As the projected front runner for the Rookie of the Year Award before the season started, that projection has quickly fallen to 2nd place only to Aaron Judge who is on pace to breaking all records as a rookie with the Yankees. While Benintendi is two years younger, it’s hard to deny what Judge has been able to do thus far. AB needs to raise his average to above .300 and it’d be nice to see him get in the 20/20 club by seasons end.
If Benintendi can build upon his nice June and July output, the Sox can rest assured in being a contender for not only the American League East but also for making a deep run into the playoffs. He’s made some adjustments and is only a tick or two away from being right where he needs to be. We’ll keep eyes on him tomorrow night as the Yankees come into town for a four game series.
Photo Credit – Michael Ainsworth – Associated Press