Oct
01

10/1-10/3 Series Preview: Boston Red Sox

By

Last three days on the job. (Jared Wickerham/Getty)

Important late-season series between the Yankees and Red Sox are nothing new, but this one has nothing to do with the standings between the two clubs. New York is tied atop the AL East and locked in a tight race with the Orioles while Boston is buried in last place, 20-something games out of first.

What Have They Done Lately?

Lay down for Baltimore, mostly. The Red Sox just got swept in a three-game series in Camden Yards that was so pathetic is appeared as though they were trying to lose. Maybe they were. Boston has lost five straight and nine of their last ten. At 69-90 (-51 run differential), they have the third worst record in the league and have secured the franchises first 90-loss season since 1966.

Offense

(Jared Wickerham/Getty)

The 4.6 runs per game average looks solid, but most of the damage was done a long time ago. David Ortiz (166 wRC+) and Will Middlebrooks (121 wRC+) are on the DL while Adrian Gonzalez (114 wRC+) is in Los Angeles and Kelly Shoppach (96 wRC+) is in Flushing. Since the big trade with the Dodgers, a span of 33 team games, the Red Sox have averaged just 3.4 runs per game. That’s unfathomably bad.

Among the players still on the roster, the best is Dustin Pedroia (111 wRC+) and I don’t think it’s particularly close. Cody Ross (114 wRC+) actually has better numbers, but I’m sure we’d all rather see him up in a big spot than Pedroia. At least I would. Pretty easily too. Jacoby Ellsbury (88 wRC+) has had a miserable and injury-plagued year, but he can still be dangerous. Jarrod Saltalamacchia (97 wRC+) hits homers and nothing else, plus both Scott Podsednik (83 wRC+) and Ryan Lavarnway (25 wRC+) get regular at-bats as well.

The rest of the lineup is a collection of retreads, has-beens, and never-wases. Pedro Ciriaco (88 wRC+) has killed the Yankees this season but done little else at the plate. James Loney (66 wRC+) and Mauro Gomez (93 wRC+) split time at first while Jose Iglesias (17 wRC+) and Mike Aviles (73 wRC+) do the same at short. Daniel Nava (103 wRC+) has had a nice-half year, and the rest of the active position player crop includes outfielders Ryan Kalish and Che-Hsuan Lin, infielders Ivan DeJesus Jr. and Danny Valencia, and third catcher Guillermo Quiroz.

Pitching Matchups

Monday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. RHP Clay Buchholz
One of the few bright spots in this disaster of a second half for the Red Sox has been Buchholz. The 28-year-old right-hander has pitched to a 4.22 ERA (4.46 FIP) in 187.2 innings overall, but that is broken down into a 5.53 ERA (5.20 FIP) in the first half (86.1 IP) and a 3.11 ERA (3.47 FIP) in the second half (101.1 IP). Buchholz still doesn’t miss as many bats as his stuff says he should (6.09 K/9 and 16.1 K% with no improvement in the second half), but he limits walks (2.97 BB/9 and 7.9 BB%) and gets ground balls (48.0%). He uses a low-to-mid-90s four-seamer and an upper-80s cutter to set up his low-80s changeup and upper-70s curveball. Buchholz has one of the best changeups in baseball, a pitch that anecdotally gives the Yankees fits. They tagged him for six runs in six innings (including five homers) back in April, but that was a different pitcher.

(Jim Rogash/Getty)

Tuesday: RHP Ivan Nova vs. LHP Jon Lester
It’s not quite a Ricky Romero disaster season, but this will be the final start of Lester’s worst season as a full-time big leaguer. He’s set new career worsts in ERA (4.94), FIP (4.14), strikeout rate (7.41 K/9 and 19.3 K%), and homerun rate (1.12 HR/9) while maintaining his usually strong walk (3.01 BB/9 and 7.9 BB%) and ground ball (48.8%) numbers. Lester is a three-fastball (low-90s four-seamer, low-90s sinker, upper-80s cutter) pitcher who backs them up with a mid-80s changeup and mid-70s curveball. The Yankees have seen both the good and bad versions of the 28-year-old left-hander this year and throughout recent seasons. There’s no secret here.

Wednesday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka
Six years after being declared the world’s best pitcher not in MLB, Matsuzaka will be making his final start for the Red Sox in the final game of the season. The 32-year-old owns a 7.68 ERA (5.53 FIP) this year and a 4.47 ERA (4.34 FIP) during his big league career, hardly what Boston expected when they sunk nine figures into him. Dice-K has racked up the strikeouts this year (8.10 K/9 and 19.4 K%), but he still walks too many (3.95 BB/9 and 9.5 BB%) and doesn’t get enough ground balls (39.9%). His stuff is pretty much back to normal after Tommy John surgery, meaning a low-90s four-seamer, an upper-80s cutter, and an array for offspeed pitches: low-80s slider, low-80s changeup, mid-80s splitter. The Yankees have not seen Matsuzaka this year but have seen him enough in recent years to know that he’ll work himself into trouble.

(Jared Wickerham/Getty)

Bullpen Status
Well, if nothing else, closer Andrew Bailey (3.46 FIP) is well-rested following the Red Sox’s latest stretch of awfulness. Right-hander Junichi Tazawa (1.82 FIP) and left-hander Andrew Miller (3.18 FIP) form a pretty dominant setup tandem, though Vicente Padilla (3.98 FIP) and Craig Breslow (2.51 FIP) will see some late-inning time as well. After all the roster turnover and whatnot, the bullpen is the strength of this Boston team.

Working the middle innings are old friends Mark Melancon (4.70 FIP) and Al Aceves (4.21 FIP), ditto funky left-hander Rich Hill (2.84 FIP). Scott Atchison (2.51 FIP) has pitched well, Clayton Mortenson (4.46 FIP) less so. Daniel Bard (6.38 FIP) is a disaster, and the rest of the bullpen is filled out by September call-ups Pedro Beato and former Yankees draft pick Chris Carpenter. Given the enormity of this series, I imagine Joe Girardi‘s typical bullpen management is going out the window and he’ll use whoever he needs to use to win in all three games. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for usage details, then check out Over The Monster for the latest and greatest on the Red Sox.

Categories : Series Preview
  • DERP

    I honestly don’t think that Boston laid down for Baltimore. I just think they are really, really bad.

    • dkidd

      they are unbelievably bad. even if they were intentionally laying down against the o’s, how could you tell? look at the line-up they run out every day. it’s shocking. in 2008, i thought we we entering an era of red sox dominance. the smartest guys in the room got dumb real quick

      • Laz

        I really didn’t expect the sox to make it to the playoffs. They were so dependent upon Aceves who I expected to regress because he threw 120 innings out of the bullpen, he lost 10 games as the closer compared to papelbon losing 1 game last year. And Bard hadn’t been a starter in years, and he is going to pitch 180? They were too dependent upon moving 2 relievers to become starters.

        Their lineup is terrible because they lost Ortiz, Youk (Then Middlebrooks) , A-Gon That will make any lineup punchless.

    • Mandy Stankiewicz

      top-ten draft pick, is that a good reason to lay down?

    • DT

      Offensively they didn’t. they pestered them in 2 of their 3 games. But the thing is that they send up their 2 worst pitchers vs the Orioles. If it was Doubrant, Bucholz and Lester facing the Orioles, then they might have been able to take one game. Cook and Stewart are batting practice.

  • Bartolo’s Colon

    all i have to say is that joe maddon and the rays better remember last year. sure the red sox committed the worst collapse in baseball ever, but it was the yanks that let them in. im pretty certain that scott proctor pitched 17 innings that series, dellin betances started a game!!, and all of yankee universe was cheering when the rays beat the yanks. i hope they play the o’s tough, even if they are out of it by tomorrow morning. i am hoping for a nice case of regression this series with respect to pedro ciriaco’s batting average. and i really hope padilla doesn’t purposely hurt tex or any other yankees.

  • Kramerica Industries

    Naturally, the Red Sox two best pitchers didn’t face the Orioles, but will face the Yankees.

    Oh well. Blast those motherfuckers anyway.

  • Mike

    Anyone besides me think the Divisional game is nothing but a waste for the Yankees and O’s? Both Yankees and O’s are already in the playoffs, so why waste another day and game to determine a division winner? And yes I’m saying this even though the O’s would have an edge in the tiebreaker. If they did tie at the end, O’s should have the division (and if the Yankees had the tiebreaker, I would say they should).

    • Bartolo’s Colon

      i am with you. i’m not sure it is worth burning andy

    • Winter

      Because if you don’t then one team gets put in a win-or-go-home game, while the other goes straight to the DS. It’s not really fair to decide something that huge on tiebreaker stats, the only (semi-)fair way is to play a tiebreaker game.

      • Mike

        Be honest Winter, would you be saying this if the Yankees had the tiebreaker over the O’s (Head to head, division, whatever)

        • Laz

          He should be. It’s not fair to bump the team to a 1 game playoff if they both had the same record. With simple probability and fair teams it would give the teams a huge disadvantage. Don’t feel like running the #’s but they have a greater than 50% lower chance of making it to the championship series. It all comes down to if they have the tiebreaker game the Yankees have to win 1 of the 2 one game flips they have. With your idea they have to win the one game tiebreaker. Head vs Head record is meaningless, because some teams acquired players or lost players to injuries at different times. I am more concerned with the overall win/loss record.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      Couldn’t disagree more. Something that significant should never be determined that way. They’d have the same record. Play a game.

      • Mike

        But both are already in the playoffs, so why waste a day and game in what’s already a very tight schedule?

        • http://www.twitter.com/brandonholley B-Rando

          IMO- the “playoffs” is now a tainted term. For the 2 losers of the WC play-in game, that’s hardly a postseason worth remembering. The playoffs begin (IMO) after these WC play-ins. The difference between going straight to the DS and having to deal with these WC games is TREMENDOUS.

        • Laz

          Because you would now have a greater than 50% lower chance of making it to the ALCS with it just bumping them to wc. That is a terrible bump for 2 teams with the same record.

        • Laz

          Also factor in that even the worst teams in baseball win 1/3 of their games, and the best teams still lose 1/3 of their games. If they have 1 game for division then 1 for wildcard is good chance yankees/O’s win 1 and advance, compared to facing whoever. 1 game to decide the whole season. If O’s or Yankees were a better team it would show in W/L record.

  • dkidd

    something’s going to happen. and it’s not gonna be like they called it back in danang

    • dkidd

      edit: nha trang

      /no one cares

  • Mike

    If Tuesday’s game gets rained out and they play a DH on Wednesday, maybe it makes sense to put Kuroda against Lester and Nova against Dice-K.

    • JAG

      Neither one inspires too much confidence right at the moment. Kuroda’s been fading his last two or three starts, and Nova blew up his last two as well. I’d agree that it makes more sense to orient them that way, but to be frank, all four pitchers are pitching pretty badly so I doubt it makes much difference.

      • Mike

        Well that’s true but I’d easily take Kuroda over Nova so it gives the Yankees a better chance at winning a day/night DH, at least based on a pitching matchup.

        I guess it depends on how tonight’s game goes as well as Orioles/Rays game.

    • mannyGeee

      I suppose this is on the assumption Yanks win tonight and the O’s drop two games in St Pete. Otherwise I think Nova has worn out his welcome all together and I would honestly rather have Freddy or Lowe go out there… At least they possess they opportunity to stumble their way into a few quality innings.

      Nova is not fooling ANYONE right now. Not saying he sucks and we should cut him, but he needs an adjustment if some sort. Not the position you want to be in on game 162 when it matters.

      • JAG

        Now I think that’s a little harsh. I agree that Nova’s been really bad the last few games, but Lowe and Garcia? Do you remember Garcia’s last start? Does Lowe even remember his?

        I’d be happier with Nova starting and both Lowe and Garcia ready to go with Nova on the shortest leash imaginable. If the game is important, it will be too important to let him try to work his way out of any possible trouble.

  • jjyank

    If the caption to that picture is correct, Rooting For U.S. Steel will owe me a beer :D

    • Rooting for U.S. Steel

      “Boston has lost five straight and nine of their last ten. At 69-90 (-51 run differential), they have the third worst record in the league and have secured the franchises first 90-loss season since 1966.”

      Sigh.

      Lager, ale, porter or stout?

    • MannyGeee

      Alternate Captions include:

      “Hey you, pretzel guy… Any way you can get me an application??”

      “Anyone know which way back to Japan? That way?? OK, thanks Larry…”

  • your mom

    If we ever needed a sweep, the time is now muthafuckas!!!

  • tipsie

    the way the 2nd half (and the last week) has gone, it’s hard to envision a (much needed) three game sweep; at this point, I’m anticipating a one game playoff for the division on Thursday, with the loser playing the Athletics on Friday

    pretty sad that Nova is actually going to start tomorrow

  • Bo Knows

    Over/under how many times Padilla hits/throws at Teix during the series….my guess is at least twice

    • Yank The Frank

      I bet he aims for his calf. The prick.

  • Darren

    Goddamn it, this is exciting. We’ve basically had a month of (almost) playoff baseball. Gotta love it.

    For letting the steroid disaster flourish, Bud Selig is going to go go a fiery pit of hell where George Steinbrenner is going to poke and prod him with Steve Howe’s trident. However, Satan will give him a Miller Lite at the end of the day as a reward for implementing the new wild card system.

    • DCBX

      +1 for Big Stein chasing Selig around hell with a pitchfork (not a trident!)

      • Darren

        I was just thinking of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels “Ruprecht, put down your trident!”

        Awesome, awesome movie….

        • Sweet Dick Willie

          “I killed a guy with a trident.”

        • Robinson Tilapia

          I remember seeing that and “The Naked Gun” back to back days in theaters in the 80′s. Both were amongst the hardest I’d ever laughed at the time.

          The table scene with Martin, the fork with a cork to it, and “excuse me, may I go to the bathroom” is one of the best ever.

          • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

            ^^^that scene.

  • Yank The Frank

    It will be interesting to see the effort the Sox put forth. If they do knock the Yanks out of 1st will that mean another year of Bobby V. or if they give meh effort will it be the final nail for Valentine? I think like most second division clubs at seasons end, that if you get to them early they won’t put up much of a fight.

  • chriskeo

    Why not start Phelps over Nova? He has been a lot better [than Nova] in his last couple outings.

    • Yank The Frank

      It makes sense to start Nova but keep him on a very short leash with Phelps behind him. Your choices are Nova Phelps or Freddy.

  • http://www.twitter.com/brandonholley B-Rando

    I have a hard time believing the Sox won’t do everything in their power to ensure the Yanks finish 2nd. The O’s may have beat them last year to let the Rays in, but they clearly showed no signs of life against them.

    Against the Yanks, they have a chance to shape the race in the AL East, just by showing up to some small degree.

    We need the Rays to do their part and play the O’s tough, I have a feeling we’re going to need some help to get the division.

    • Sweet Dick Willie

      I have a feeling we’re going to need some help to get the division.

      Actually, the Yankees control their own destiny (as do the O’s).

      • http://www.twitter.com/brandonholley B-Rando

        Agreed. I was referring to the fact I feel like the Sox are not going to just lie down and let the Yanks take all 3, in that case, we will need some help from the Rays.

  • Laz

    I really think that Phelps should be starting in nova’s place. He hasn’t started in awhile, but they should still be able to get 5 innings of quality ball compared to what nova has been giving up. He had one good outing since the dl, and now 2 terrible outtings. I’m not giving up on him by any means, it is just that they need to win every game they can for the rest of the season, and a 7.05 era since the a/s break really doesn’t instill confidence. Shut him down for the season, something is not clicking with him. Have him get ready for 2013, they can’t afford to waste games because they are afraid of hurting someone’s feelings.

    • Chilango

      If it was anyone but the Sox, who can’t hit for shit, Nova would not get the nod. I think it’s OK to start him on a very short leash. Like one extra base hit, and get Phelps up.

      • Laz

        Doesn’t matter, they NEED to win these 3 games to guarantee at least a playoff for the division.

  • JimboSlice

    I’m saying the Sox take 2 out of 3.

    I also think the O’s take 2 out of 3 from the Rays.

    • Chris

      Oof. Let’s hope you’re wrong.

  • FIPster Doofus

    I have a bad feeling about this series. If only Cook and Doubront were starting.

    • Squints

      hell to that if yanks are gonna be in the playoffs they need to show they can beat the best on the sox even if they are having an off year. once the post season starts its gonna be nothing but front line pitching.

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

    No Pedroia or Ellsbury in the lineup tonight.

    • steves

      Thanks Bobby V! Plus Phelps starts tomorrow over Nova. Finally, Yanks are cutting to the chase.

    • Laz

      Odd, but maybe they want to give a last few looks at some of the pieces they have, so they know who they want make a move for. Or they really want that draft pick.

  • WHIPunk

    Ahhh Phelps starting instead of Nova! Interesting…

  • Zack

    Lester pitched like crap in his start and “won” because we let him. And Dice K..please.
    If the Yanks lose,it will be because we beat ourselves.

    • Yank The Frank

      Beating ourselves is not always a bad thing…

  • http://www.fenwayticketking.com Fenway Ticket King

    Hopefully they can step it up this season. Last year was absolutely horrendous.