Sale is the hardest of the pitchers to write about, because so much of what he’s doing says he should be doing a lot better than he actually is. But then I watch the games, and I’m not surprised that he isn’t doing better. It’s a weird split in the stream, so to speak.
On the one hand, Sale is still nasty. He’s getting strikeouts by the bushel, and isn’t walking an exorbitant amount of players. He’s also keeping guys off base for the most part, a 1.101 WHIP is not the end of the world. But he’s been hurt by the long ball. 30 of his 61 earned runs have come via a home run trot. If it’s not a home run, odds are, Sale is actually pitching just fine!
But why so many home runs? It’s probably the diminished velocity on his pitches, and being held to limits. Maybe this changes. It’s hard to tell.
Grade - C. He’s pitching below expectations... but at the same time, he’s not. I think accounting for normal HR rates, Sale is probably closer to being acceptable.
Just as Andrew Benintendi changed his grade with a last second cram session, Price has changed his grade by forgetting to study for the big test.
To this point in the year, Price had been in the discussion for ace of the staff, by merit of being the stopper of losing streaks, and the continuer of winning streaks. His peripherals were good, and we were seeing more strikeouts than we’ve ever seen out of Price. Arguably, Price was having his best season.
Then the suck came.
Over his last three starts, his ERA has risen from 3.16 to 3.86. That’s a big “Yikes” from me. He has time to turn it around, but one more bad start, and he may be in the 4s. And you know what they say about starting pitching with a 4+ ERA in Boston...
Grade - B. His grade was an A- until the most recent starts. He can still get back there if he works for his grade.
Where Price has struggled, Rodriguez has slowly become a mini ace in his own right. In July, against competition that includes the Dodgers, Rays, and Yankees, E-Rod has 2.03 ERA. In July, Rodriguez has been the rock of the staff, where David Price has found himself unable to continue carrying the load.
He’s done it by being more efficient with his pitches. For a while, this was the only complaint with Rodriguez. Until this point, he’d only be lasting five innings per game. Now he’s been going into the sixth and seventh innings far more often, and that is huge for the bullpen.
Grade - A-. Hard to argue with E-Rod surpassing expectations by a considerable amount.
I have the sad looking at his numbers. I don’t want to write about them.
He’s just been bad in every respect this season. He’s an impending free agent. I do not think the Red Sox will be bringing him back.
Grade - F. I don’t like saying someone has failed but what else can you say about a pitcher making 20 million a year with an ERA above 5? That’s the epitome of failure.
This is a list of remaining players who don’t get a blurb, but I wanted to rank:
Mitch Moreland - C. He’s a huge power threat that the Red Sox have missed a bit. Chavis has played well in his stead, but it would be cool to have them both, you know?
Marco Hernandez - B+. He’s had too little time in the majors to give anything higher, but when he has played, he’s made an impact for sure.
Sam Travis - C. He’s performing about as well as you could expect or hope a 4th+ string first baseman will.
Ryan Brasier - D. Sometimes lightning strikes twice. Sometimes though, and this is more often the truth, regression will hit, and it will hit hard.
Marcus Walden - C+. He has had his struggles since his strong start, but he has done well with the 50+ (wait, that many?) innings he’s received.
Brandon Workman - A. He’s our relief ace. If not for the walks total, he’d be an A+, easy.
Colten Brewer - D. Sorry, Dave, this one just didn’t work out like you’d hope, I think. Maybe next year.
Matt Barnes - B. Not his fault he’s always overworked and put into bad situations. Has had a lot of really strong games that get overlooked because of his high ERA.
Heath Hembree - B-. I still can’t believe he’s here. When he’s been up, he’s pitched well enough to succeed, and that’s really all the team needs.
Nate Eovaldi / Andrew Cashner / Darwinzon Hernandez - Incomplete. Eovaldi needs to be healthy before I can grade him in good conscience. Cashner is just too new to Boston. Wouldn’t make sense to grade him already. Hernandez looks great early, but it’s a small sample size.
It’s hard to grade a deadline in which we do nothing, but I’ll try. The Red Sox clearly and desperately needed a pen arm, and several cheap ones were available on the market. They acquired zero of them. Nearly every top contender around the Red Sox got significantly better (except the Yankees), while the Red Sox kind of just watched it happen.
I want to use a high school and college analogy here. In high school, a D is enough to pass. It shows the basest amount of effort. This is acceptable when the courses don’t mean anything at all, and have little bearing on anything (like in high school!), but once you get to college, and are in the process of working toward something more tangible and real, a D will not cut it.
In this respect, a D is both a pass and a fail. And that’s what makes a D so frustrating. Because you were close. Maybe check a few more boxes, maybe answer one more question right... instead, you are left with the grim reminder that you were just a little short.
So that’s what I’m choosing to grade this deadline as. It gets a Grade of D, because it’s entirely possible that doing nothing is the right move, but the methods to get to this answer were unsatisfactory.
I take less issue with the result in this case, and more issue with the statement accompanying the lack of a result. Maybe others disagree about this grade and will wish to contest it.
But this grade is final, and there are no makeups. You don’t get a do-over in baseball, and the grading period is closed. Except for Andrew Benintendi. He’s such a cool cat.
What do you think? Where would you grade the players?