It's July 26th, and the Red Sox are currently 13-6 this month. You can't ask for much better during one month of baseball, however, in the bigger scheme of things, it's not good enough. The Red Sox are still 2.5 games behind the Orioles, and cannot take advantage of bad matchups to gain ground.
After a promising 2 game sweep of the Giants, the Sox split a 4 game series with the lowly Minnesota Twins. The AL worst, 37-61, Minnesota Twins. Through the first 2 games of the series the Sox scored just 3 runs, and couldn't manage a run with the bases loaded and 0 outs in the 9th. Red Sox pitching allowed 34 runs over the 4 games, an average of 8.5 a game. This series will no doubt come back to haunt them if the race for the playoffs is close.
Last night, the Sox opened a series with the Detroit Tigers, and dropped the first game despite a good performance by Drew Pomeranz. Going 6 innings with 4 hits and 2 runs, he undoubtedly improved upon his first start in Boston. However, the offense was unable to get anything going, and the bullpen was unable to hold Detroit at just 2 runs.
I think I speak for most when I say I was very curious to see how Kelly would pitch coming out of the pen, given his velocity. Unsurprisingly, Kelly came out firing, hitting 99, 100 and even 101 on the radar gun. Unfortunately, unless your name is Aroldis Chapman, speed isn't everything when it's your only weapon. Justin Upton lead off the 7th inning with a triple to the triangle in centerfield, and would later score on a single by McCann. Buchholz would come on for the 8th and 9th and gave up another run on a Victor Martinez single.
The 2-1 loss to the Twins, and last night's loss are the reasons that Red Sox fans should start to worry about this team. This team has an inability to win any low scoring game in which they need to rely on the bullpen, or a clutch offensive performance. We all know this is the best offense in the league, but it only seems to work when they're putting up 8 runs a night against a bad pitcher. It doesn't seem to click when the bases are loaded with no one out and the meat of their order coming up in the bottom of the 9th.
We've seen nights where the pitching hasn't been spectacular, but the offense has been their to bail them out and the Sox still get a win. What about the other way around? How many times has the offense been cold on a particular night, but the pitching is lights out and the Sox steal one? The answer is in Mazz' tweet above; not many.
Baseball season is very long, and on certain nights, the offense just isnt going to be there. Most teams are going to lose a lot of games this way, but it is almost a death sentence for the 2016 Red Sox. As I said before, the offense has the ability to bail out the pitching, but not vice versa. Starters just aren't going deep enough, and we have almost come to expect 2-3 runs from our bullpen whenever they need to pitch more than a couple innings. There needs to be a balance. The Red Sox need to be able to win, at least a few games, when the offense is having an off night.
If the Red Sox make the playoffs, or even the play-in game, they are going to need to rely on pitching. Look at the 2013 ALCS with the Tigers for example. The Red Sox lost the first game 1-0 and won game 3 1-0. There is almost no chance that this rotation and bullpen would be able to hold a playoff team to 1 run, nevermind 0 runs like the combination of Lackey, Breslow, Tazawa and Uehara did. You will see great pitching and are going to struggle offensively in the playoffs, this team is not built to win that way.
As currently constituted, the Red Sox are .5 games ahead of the Blue Jays for a Wild Card spot. So far, Dombrowski has made the necessary moves to keep this team in the race, an encouraging sign for anyone that wants it to stay that way. Even with Ziegler's dominant performances, and Kimbrel's return coming soon, the Sox desperately need another bullpen arm. With the trade deadline 5 days away, and the phone's ringing off the hook, I would be surprised if there wasn't another move before August 1st.
By Matt Watts