As I begin writing this, it's the end of the third, and the Red Sox trail 9-0.
The rest of this game is not worth my time, or your time, or the time of any Red Sox fans who happen to be watching it. In fact, these first three innings weren't either.
I say this knowing full-well this Red Sox lineup is capable of scoring 15 runs, regardless of what's happened in these first few innings (as I type, they've put two on the board in the fourth). But that doesn't matter. That they still have a chance to win this one game, however small or large that chance might be (spoiler: microscopic) isn't really all that important. If they do, I'll be back to tell that tale, but the reality will still be this: the Red Sox are attempting to contend with a three-man rotation in a five-man rotation league. They've been doing so for two months now (well, three, but it's been completely clear for two), and still seem unwilling to take even relatively minor actions to fix that problem.
Eduardo Rodriguez is broken. This is not surprising. Little more than a week before it became clear he would make his 2016 debut, he suffered a setback in his rehab stint in Pawtucket. The Sox slapped a brace on his knee, called it a fix, and hoped against hope that it would actually prove to be one when Rodriguez took the mound.
It has not turned out as they hoped. Not at all. Nine runs in under three innings. It's the worst outing we've seen from Rodriguez yet, but sadly, not too terribly out-of-line with what might have been expected. When your outings range from unfortunate to disaster, the degree of the disaster loses meaning.
The sad fact is that, at this point, starting Clay Buchholz makes more sense than starting Rodriguez. Buchholz is bad, but I could have told you that based on the year of the calendar. He takes a long time to get right after injury, making this bad year pretty easy to predict, and unlikely to vanish with a month off and some retooling. Rodriguez, on the other hand? Who knows. He was very likely rushed back, and that's very likely a big part of the problem. Sit him down, get him right, and bring him back, be it in August, September, or even 2017. Whatever it takes, it's a lot better than throwing him to the wolves right now.
Whatever the Red Sox do with Rodriguez and the rotation going forward, what they've failed to do is the story of today, and really, this past month in general. The reaction time of the front office has been glacial. They've thrown games away, and possibly crushed the confidence of a very talented young lefty. I don't know that I would charge Dave Dombrowski and company with negligence in terms of offseason roster construction--yes, I would have liked a Doug Fister addition, but there were a lot of bodies already in-line and hard to simply jettison for no value. But since the early season results were in, the silence in the face of so many brutal performances has been deafening.
The Red Sox need bodies in the rotation, and really, they need more than one. I expect they'll probably go ahead and give Aaron Wilkerson a go, which is nice because he's an easy guy to root. But if he doesn't work out, it feels foolish to expect them to respond to that even though a successful Wilkerson alone still wouldn't be enough. The Red Sox have done seemingly everything they can except provide their rotation with any of the meaningful help it so desperately needs. Instead, they've thrown guys like Sean O'Sullivan and retreads in the form of Joe Kelly Part 4 and Clay Buchholz Part I-Don't-Care-to-Count at the problem as if five scoreless bullpen innings or a good start against Triple-A hitters was actually significant.
The Red Sox' horrible run through June can in many ways be chalked up to baseball being baseball. Good teams play poorly for stretches, variance works in funny ways, and a small negative run differential turns into a huge deficit in the standings
In many ways, but not all. This, and the situation in left field? Throwing away two games in five to horrific starting pitching and leaving a spot in the lineup to guys who were never even expected to see the 40-man in 2016? These are the things that will kill a baseball team nine times out of ten. That one time in ten? When the Red Sox were scoring 10 runs every other night.
Enough is enough. The problems are obvious. The answers need not be spectacular. They simply have to be better. As every single game the rest of this season must be better than this circus.