Prior to Opening Day, Boston Red Sox fans were most excited to see what new acquisition J.D. Martinez can bring to the table. However, after four games, the starting rotation has been the bigger story.
Boston Red Sox fans traveled to bed happy on the eve of Easter Sunday, as their beloved team won 2-1 to wrap up a four-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Joe Kelly bounced back to record the save a night after closer Craig Kimbrel earned his second save in as many nights on Saturday; flawlessly mixing up his pitches to grab outs in a multitude of ways.
The highlight that stood out the most through the first four games of the season was the starting pitching. In the first contest on Thursday, ace Chris Sale threw a gem, pitching six innings and only giving up one hit with nine strikeouts. The Sox jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead, when Kelly entered the game to give up four earned runs in the eighth. The Rays ended up completing the comeback, and bested Boston, 6-4.
As frustrating as that was, the problems that occurred in those late innings are very fixable. Kelly’s command was off, as he surrendered three walks in the eighth, which helped set up the disastrous inning that would follow. Normally, he’s someone that the organization can rely on.
Price made everything right
On the following night, former Tampa ace David Price pitched just as well, if not better, recording a line of seven innings, four hits, and five strikeouts. the Red Sox snuck by 1-0, giving manager Alex Cora his first win. He received a lot of backlash from the Boston media about his decision to not use Kimbrel in the first game, but covered it up by utilizing him in the second matchup.
Even inconsistent Rick Porcello did his job on Sunday night, pitching 5 1/3 innings, and gave up six hits on one earned run and four strikeouts. The bullpen was again able to stave off a feisty Rays team in the end, and Kimbrel had another flawless ninth.
And then on Easter Sunday, Hector Velazquez continued the stellar run by Red Sox starters, pitching 5 2/3, giving up only one run and striking out five. Boston bested the Rays 2-1, and won the first season series, 3-1.
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Granted, all four of these games were against a middling MLB team. Nonetheless, it’s comforting to see a staff that had more questions than answers before Opening Day have some solid performances right off the bat.
According to Baseball-Reference, the Boston Red Sox starting pitching has a 1.69 ERA so far, and Porcello and Velazquez are the only ones to have given up a run.
The other sub-plot to come out of this positive mini-stretch is a rejuvenated Price. Rarely did he look like the injured second option of the past couple of years. If he continues to show the same poise for the next six months, then his contract might not look as bad as it does.
While it’s way too early to predict what trajectory Price will go in the upcoming months, it is a step in the right direction.
As fellow FanSided writer Connor Friend stated in his past article about Boston’s first win, Price has a shot at receiving the Comeback Player of the Year award.
As for Porcello and Sale, they both need to not run out of gas by September like last year. It will be interesting to see how Cora manages their innings going forward.
Over-pitching starters has been an issue in today’s MLB, so hopefully the new manager can find out their limits before it’s too late.