Boston Red Sox: It’s time to shake up the starting rotation

Garrett Richards #43 of the Boston Red Sox (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Garrett Richards #43 of the Boston Red Sox (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Currently in the middle on an ill-timed five game losing streak, it’s clear that something has to change for the Boston Red Sox.

They’ve stumbled out of the gate in the second half of the season, and have watched their once solid lead of the AL East evaporate into thin air. With the Tampa Bay Rays now leading the pack and the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays waiting to pounce, the Sox need to switch things up if they want to maintain their current playoff trajectory.

Boston’s recent cold stretch has resulted due to each aspect of the team struggling. In the last seven games, the Red Sox lineup has only managed to score five runs once, failing to even reach that threshold in every other game. The bullpen also has continued to be inconsistent, looking capable some games and then completely throwing away other contests, such as a recent 9-5 loss against the Rays.

But the starting rotation has developed into the most glaring issue as of late. They have been slowing down from their hot start to the season, and have really fallen apart recently. Over the last 11 games, Boston has only seen their starters reach five innings three times.

The rotation has been a big reason for Boston’s season long success, so it’s only fitting that when their struggles have amplified, so have the team’s as a whole. With the trade deadline in the rearview mirror, there aren’t many options left to improve the rotation, but it’s clear something has to be done sooner rather than later.

What can the Boston Red Sox do to fix their rotation?

Luckily for Boston, they have two pitchers situated in Worcester that can come up and help shore up the rotation in Chris Sale and Tanner Houck. It will require two current starters to be thrown into the bullpen for the time being, but that shouldn’t be an issue.

Of the five current starters, Nathan Eovaldi is a lock to stay in the rotation. Eovaldi has done a superb job at leading the rotation this season, and earned himself an All-Star spot in the process. He struggled in his most recent start against Tampa, but he still sports a respectable 3.71 ERA, and has easily been the Boston Red Sox best starter so far this season.

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After that it gets a little bit more difficult. Nick Pivetta has struggled lately, but he’s still been much more competent than some of his peers. He’s given up at least three runs in five of his last six starts, but the one he didn’t was a magnificent seven inning outing on the fourth of July that helped Boston pick up a win.

Martin Perez hasn’t been great all season long, but his consistency will probably help him keep a spot too. He’s only had two starts over the last two months where he didn’t give up a run, but he typically is able to limit the damage and keep the team in games.

That leaves Garrett Richards and Eduardo Rodriguez as the two odd men out. Richards has looked downright awful since the MLB’s mandate on sticky substances, and has been a rare miss by general manager Chaim Bloom in free agency so far. And after missing all of last season due to complications from COVID, Rodriguez just hasn’t looked right all season long.

Both starters have ERA’s over five, with Richards 5.21 being a bit better than Rodriguez’s 5.60. Honestly, it’s somewhat surprising Boston is this successful despite sporting two starters with ERA’s over five, but that’s the beauty of baseball.

It will be a tough move, but it’s time to get these two guys out of the rotation. It’s beyond me why Houck isn’t currently on the roster, as he sports a pretty 2.45 ERA in just six games of action. He has been fantastic in his last two starts, and he probably would have qualified for a pair of wins had he not been deterred by a rain delay or pitching in a shortened seven inning double header game.

Houck should be recalled in short time, and while he should provide a spark to Boston’s rotation, he’s not even the best possible option to help out. That would Chris Sale.

The Boston Red Sox took a huge risk not moving for a pitcher at the trade deadline, and so far it’s backfired in quite spectacular fashion. They are banking on Sale coming back and pitching like his old self when he returns, and that’s a huge risk. Sale hasn’t pitched in a major league game in two years, and they are essentially going to need him to return and be the ace he once was.

Next. Sox need Sale and Schwarber to return soon. dark

It would have been a safer move to pick up a pitcher at the deadline, as there were certainly a ton of options out there. Instead, Boston is going to be relying on Sale and Houck to come back and save this rotation.

Sale is set to make one more start in Worcester before returning, while Houck will hopefully be called up in the next few days. After their AL East competitors reloaded at the deadline, the Boston Red Sox can’t settle for mediocrity anymore. In order to get back on track, they need to fix up their rotation before they lose anymore ground in the playoff race, or else they may find themselves on the outside of the playoff race looking in.