The last-place Boston Red Sox gave the boot to pitching coach Juan Nieves today. This may or may not have been warranted, depending on whether you think it’s Nieves’s fault that the team put together a lousy rotation of bad free-agent pitchers and needs someone to blame. Either way, Boston’s rotation is horrifying.
The team flirted with re-signing Jon Lester in the offseason before letting him go because he’s aging and expensive, and instead ended up with Wade Miley, Rick Porcello, and Justin Masterson. Clay Buchholz remained to slouch around leaving grease stains everywhere and Joe Kelly, whom the the team picked up in a trade last year, took a spot. Miley, Porcello, and Masterson have all at various times been effective enough and even good; they’re all worth taking a chance on to fill out a pennant contender’s rotation. They cannot be that rotation, however, unless you want that rotation to suck.
The numbers align with common sense here. Through 28 games, the Red Sox’s starters have a 5.14 ERA, worst in the league. Miley has a 7.15 ERA and they’re still running him out there even though he’s stopped striking anyone out and his walk rate has more than doubled since his last good season, in 2012. Here’s what Wade Miley looks like:
Look at the fear in his eyes. He knows he’s in over his head. His willingness to keep on battling anyway would be charming if it weren’t for the fact that opponents are slugging .833 against his sinker. I can’t focus on anything but how much this guy sucks. Why, Wade? I want to like you.
If it were just him, you’d shrug, but the entire staff is full of guys like this, who you remember being sort of good a few years ago but actually aren’t anymore. Take Justin Masterson. Goddamn, man. Not that long ago, he was an appealing, imposing pitcher with a potent fastball. Now, his four-seamer floats up to the plate at 88.8 mph. It’s depressing to watch.
The “ace” of this crew is Clay Buchholz, who really can’t have three acceptable starts in a row no matter how many gross lubricants he slathers on the ball. This isn’t a joke. Look at his 2014. Only once did he string three quality starts together. He’s the no. 1 guy this season.
One glimmer of hope comes from behind the plate. The team called up catcher Blake Swihart on May 2 after Ryan Hanigan went on the DL. Coincidence or not, Miley had his longest start of the season that day against the Yankees with three earned runs over seven innings (though Boston still lost). A few days later, Porcello pitched seven shutout innings against the Rays. It’s something, maybe.
The Red Sox built a bad rotation full of semi-promising and formerly good but now bad pitchers, and then fired someone when he couldn’t make them pitch as if they were much better than they actually are. It wasn’t your fault, Juan.
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