There are no two ways about it: It was a good week for John Farrell. For me? It was a little bit worse.
Yesterday I ensured the Red Sox would lose by writing the lineups post as if the Sox had already won the game they were to play. Chris Sale was pitching in Philadelphia. Would could go wrong?
Everything, as it turned out. I should have known. This was a full-on Pedro Special, like the time Martinez he struck out 17 Rays only to lose, 1-0, to Steve Trachsel, in dueling complete games at Fenway Park. I was in the bleachers for that one. It wasn’t the best of times.
Nor was yesterday, but there’s not a lot Farrell can do to pull team out of a funk into which I put it. I mean, he could get them to score a single g-d run off of Philly’s Nick Pivetta, whoever he is, but short of that I’m happy to take the L.
Take that one off Farrell’s ledger and the week looks pretty great:
Here are the recent numbers:
- Red Sox record: 37-29
- 2nd place in the AL East, two games behind the Yankees
- Last 7 days: 5-2
- Last 10 games: 6-4
- What we’re criticizing him for today, if anything: Letting me jinx his team via my first amendment freedom
- Validity of criticism: 1/11
- Danger Points reduced: 2
For all the crap we give Farrell for questionable bullpen choices, he had a great week on that front, and it is nice to be able to praise him after some really wonderful performances by the relievers in the team’s back-to-back extra inning wins versus Philly at Fenway.
In Monday’s game, Rick Porcello gave up 4 runs in the first inning and 5 runs over 6 innings; the Sox would win 6-5 in 11 after the bullpen (Joe Kelly, Craig Kimbrel, Robby Scott, Matt Barnes) went 5 scoreless innings of their own. On Tuesday, David Price gave up 3 runs in the first 6 innings, and the Sox would win 4-3 in 12 after another 6 scoreless from Scott, Blaine Boyer, Kimbrel and Heath Hembree.
Farrell doesn’t pitch anymore, of course, so there’s not necessarily a 1:1 relationship between what the relievers do and how Farrell prepped them. This is another way of saying that players play and managers manage. If we forget this adage in the bad times, and Farrell is blamed for when players are bad, we should do him the solid of remembering it now.
It’s not just this week, either. The bullpen has been great, despite being nominally depleted all season with the absences of Carson Smith and Tyler Thornburg, the latter of whom is now out for good. Boston’s pitching staff has the fifth-lowest ERA of any in baseball, and the bullpen is even better, ranking second in the majors behind only Cleveland. If the team has survived slumps and injuries to its starters, this is how.
I can’t overlook this, especially not this week, and for that reason, Farrell is safer than he was last week. Two Danger Points removed and he’s at comfortable 3 of 11 heading into this weekend’s showdown with the MLB-best Astros. This will be a real test, for sure, especially without Chris Sale. I believe the Sox, and Farrell, can pass it. Will they? Tune in next week to find out!
Or just watch the games.