The Red Sox, as a team, have not really been rolling of late. This is obviously not the same as saying they’ve been bad nor is it even really complaining about their recent performance. They are still winning more than they are losing and they are keeping pace with a Yankees team whose talent level we are constantly reminded of by national and local media alike. Boston is, quite simply, one of the best teams in baseball even when they are frustrating. Right now, they are frustrating, and that almost entirely comes down to the offense. This is certainly not the 2017 Red Sox where it felt like every night was a disaster waiting to happen at the plate. This lineup has the potential to mash night in and night out. That being said, they’ve been wildly inconsistent of late. As I said, they’ve still been playing well of late, and that’s because the Red Sox rotation is on an absolute roll right now and is looking like one of the elite groups in all of baseball.
It’s been clear since the start of this season that this rotation had the potential to be special, and while they’ve shown flashes it’s taken some time for everything to come together. Of course, a big part of that was Drew Pomeranz struggling every time he took the mound. Still, this recent run is not just Steven Wright being much better than Pomeranz. It’s an entire group effort, and the result has been one of the best rotations in baseball both for the year and over this recent stretch. Below is a table looking at where the team ranks in ERA- and FIP- over the entire season, the last 30 days and the last 14 days. All data comes from Fangraphs. As a note, ERA- and FIP- are both park-neutral statistics.
Red Sox Rotation Ranks
|Timeframe||ERA- Rank||FIP- Rank|
|Timeframe||ERA- Rank||FIP- Rank|
So, uh, yeah. This is amazing. Really, they’ve been great all year long, but their recent performance has really taken them to a new level. Honestly, there’s not a ton more to say about this, though I thought it deserved some recognition. It is worth looking into the contributors, who have been everyone.
Chris Sale had a little bit of a bump in the row in late-May/early-June, but he’s recovered to look as dominant as ever in his last couple outings. Overall he’s still a clear All-Star. David Price has been incredible since his video game “controversy” reached its peak, showing off his best and most consistent command since joining the Red Sox. Steven Wright threw almost 25 consecutive innings without allowing a run, and has allowed just one run over 20 2⁄3 innings since joining the rotation. Eduardo Rodriguez tends to draw attention to his lack of efficiency, but in the midst of all that he has been dominant. Like Price, he’s allowed more than two runs just once in his last seven outings and he’s allowed more than three runs just twice all year long. Rick Porcello has been the worst pitcher of late, and even he has allowed three or fewer runs in four of his last six outings.
That’s a really amazing run being put forth by these pitchers, and while it’s probably not going to keep up to quite this extent there’s nothing that looks inherently unsustainable. As you can see from the table above, the FIP rankings at least back up the rotation being truly elite. On an individual basis, there isn’t a pitcher who shouldn’t be able to keep this up besides Wright, and it’s really impossible to predict a sure outcome for a knuckleballer. Overall, they are simply keeping their team in every game, which has been huge with the offense scuffling compared to their early-season explosion. Since May 28, a 20-game run, Boston starters have allowed two earned runs or fewer in 15 games. That’s amazing.
Leading up to the season, I said a lot that the best possible version of this Red Sox team included them being carried by their starting pitching. Part of that was me underrating the offense, but part of it was seeing the immense potential for everyone in this rotation. Wright substituting this well for Pomeranz was surely not something I saw coming, but again, nothing we’re seeing from the rest of the rotation looks too crazy. Even if you want to take out the knuckleballer, this rotation is one of the best one through four in all of baseball, and even if it’s not quite as effective over the next two weeks as it was for the last two, it’s going to keep the team in games all year. When Boston makes the postseason and potentially beats the Yankees in this division race, the rotation is going to be the separating factor.