Sunday's game was extremely tough to watch as a Red Sox fan. We have seen this team consistently mash the cover off of the baseball, yet the Red Sox were held to seven (!) runs in their three games against the Cleveland Indians. Ultimately, the Red Sox starting pitchers could not pitch effectively and deep into ball games, the offense could not win a close game for them, and the bullpen could not keep them within shouting distance.
Nevertheless, as much as I don't think John Farrell should be the manager of this team, he was spot on in his postgame press conference. This series should not deter the Red Sox and their fans as to just how much they improved in 2016. Lets give some grades to these Red Sox players....
2016 Pitching Stats: 35 GS, 17-9, 3.99 ERA, 230 IP, 228 K, 50 BB
The ace. The $217 million man. In David Price's first year as the top man in the Red Sox rotation, he lost his spot and performed so poorly, there were rumors as to if he would even pitch a Game Five if Boston were to force one in the ALDS against Cleveland. If you took out David Price's ERA from the stats mentioned above, then you would be pretty happy with his first season in Boston. Price led the league in games started and innings pitched, but he also led in hits at 227. With relinquishing almost a hit per inning pitched, Price never settled in and could not fix his woes in the postseason, lasting only 3.1 innings before being yanked in a Game Two loss in Cleveland. Because of Price's massive contract and his relationship with President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski, it is clear that he is not going to be dealt this offseason. I want to give Price a failing grade, but he did eat innings and, with this bullpen, that was huge.
Final Grade: D
2016 Pitching Stats: 33 GS, 22-4, 3.15 ERA, 223 IP, 189 K, 32 BB
Rick Porcello had a masterful 2016 campaign, especially after how much he struggled in 2015 in his first season with the Boston Red Sox. Porcello is gaining some serious recognition around the league, and may even be the frontrunner for the American League Cy Young award. Porcello assumed the role of stopping slumps and starting winning streaks, especially if he was pitching at Fenway Park. Now, I hate to give you the bad news, but Porcello is not this good. However, he is also not as bad as he looked in 2015. He is somewhere in the middle. I would not be surprised if we see Porcello post a 3.5-3.7 ERA next season, while winning 15 games. Nevertheless, this was a phenomenal season by Porcello and I hope he gets the award(s) that he deserves.
Final Grade: A
2016 Pitching Stats: 24 GS, 13-6, 3.33 ERA, 156.2 IP, 127 K, 57 BB
Yeah! Remember this guy? The knuckleballer that many were arguing should have started as the American League starting pitcher for this year's All-Star Game? The guy that was leading the American League, and all of baseball, for that matter, in earned run average for a large chunk of this season? Steven Wright injured his shoulder while pinch running on a Red Sox' trip to the West Coast and never returned. Many have questioned John Farrell's decision to use Wright and not someone more accustomed to running the bases, such as Drew Pomeanz. However, many are also questioning Wright's baseball IQ as he was taking a massive lead and his physical toughness. Its hard to give Wright a grade because he was virtually nonexistent for a large chunk of the second half. However, I think Wright should be held accountable for really hurting this team's starting rotation. He has to be smarter on the base paths, regardless of what Farrell decides to do.
Final Grade: B-
2016 Pitching Stats: 20 GS, 3-7, 4.71 ERA, 107 IP, 100 K, 40 BB
Similar to Steven Wright, Eduardo Rodriguez spent a lot of the 2016 season injured or on the Disabled List. E-Rod struggled early in the season, and many people point to Rodriguez tipping his pitches. However, Rodriguez fixed this issue and showed that he has what it takes to be a top-end of the rotation guy. Rodriguez features an above-average changeup and a 96+ MPH fastball; however, in order to be a successful MLB starting pitcher, one needs a third pitch. This offseason, I hope to see E-Rod take another step in the right direction and develop the slider/curveball/cutter that we saw at a very limited basis in 2016.
Final Grade: C+
2016 Pitching Stats: 30 GS, 11-12, 3.32 ERA, 170.2 IP, 186 K, 65 BB
A complete and utter disappointment. The Red Sox traded their top pitching prospect, Anderson Espinoza, to the San Diego Padres for a battered and broken Drew Pomeranz. The MLB offered to rescind the trade, yet Dombrowski wanted to keep Pomeranz in an effort to make some noise in the postseason. Pomeranz dealt with some forearm discomfort for an unknown amount of time during the 2016 season and it showed when he landed in Boston. In 13 starts with the Red Sox, Pomeranz had a 3-5 record and a 4.59 ERA. For a top pitching prospect, that isn't going to cut it. There are rumors that Pomeranz may be used solely in the bullpen next season, which he has done before in San Diego and Oakland. We also saw this out of Pomeranz in the Red Sox' brief stint in this year's postseason. Nonetheless, Pomeranz did nothing to help this team, and did more harm than good.
Final Grade: F
2016 Pitching Stats: 57 G, 3.40 ERA, 83 K, 30 BB, 31-33 SV OPP
Craig Kimbrel had a bizarre first season with the Boston Red Sox. At times, it looked as if Kimbrel was the most dominant pitcher in all of baseball. Kimbrel went down with a knee injury mid-season, but when he returned he looked like a new man. He was throwing 2-3 MPH slower than usual, but Kimbrel was around the strike zone and not walking as many people. However, towards the end of the season, Kimbrel again imploded. Most notably, Kimbrel could not record an out and had to be pulled after four straight walks against the New York Yankees while trying to win the AL East crown for the Red Sox in The Bronx. With that being said, Kimbrel only blew two saves and, in my opinion, did not hurt this team as much as everyone thinks. Next season, I hope to see Kimbrel return to form as one of the best closers in all of baseball.
Final Grade: C+
The Other Guys:
Clay Buchholz: C+
Buchholz had an absolutely horrendous start to the regular season. However, towards the end of the season, Buchholz embraced his role in the bullpen and even started Game Three of the ALDS. With a $12 million option next season, don't be surprised to see Buchholz back with this team.
Brad Ziegler: A
Ziegler came in and did everything that was asked of him. Its not his fault that Farrell misused him and now he most likely won't be back with the team.
Matt Barnes: C+
Barnes wasn't bad, but he wasn't all that good either. Barnes blew some games and gave up some home runs, but it is hard for him to assume a role that he simply isn't ready/built for.
Everyone Else: C
Meh. Like Barnes, it was an up and down year. At times, this bullpen was lights out, especially when Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa were healthy and rolling, especially in the second half. Unfortunately, neither of those guys could stay healthy and we saw the result.
Be on the lookout for my final installment of the Red Sox' Report Card, featuring the coaching staff and management!