By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Despite an offense that has yet to fully click, the Boston Red Sox are currently the owners of a 6-1 record, tying them for the best such mark in the majors. Only the defending champion Houston Astros have matched that performance thus far.
Of course, facing the likes of Tampa Bay and Miami certainly has aided in Boston’s ability to build that record. But really, the results have come from an otherworldly week of pitching by the Red Sox’ staff.
As a team, the Red Sox currently lead MLB with a 2.09 ERA. The next-best teams are the Twins and Mets, both of whom have a 2.33 team ERA, followed by Houston at 2.47.
The Red Sox rank fourth in batting average against, at .198, and they’re second in WHIP, a 1.09.
But those numbers include the whole staff, and has already been documented, the Red Sox have had their fair share of struggles pitching in the eighth inning. If you isolate the numbers to just the starting rotation, Boston’s even better.
The Red Sox starters’ ERA thus far is 0.89, far and away the best in the league. The Dodgers’ starters rank second 1.99, followed by the Yankees at 2.06.
The Red Sox’ starters’ WHIP is at 0.95, the only rotation with a WHIP under 1. The Yankees are second at 1.07, followed by the Mets at 1.08 and Astros at 1.10.
(For the record, Red Sox relievers rank 18th in MLB in ERA and 20th in WHIP. In just AL rankings, they sit at eighth and 10th, respectively, in those categories.)
Unsurprisingly, Red Sox starters lead all of baseball in OPS against, at .507. Only two teams — the Twins at .513 and the Yankees at .560 — have a mark under .600.
And though the Sox starters may not be going as deep into games as they will in July, the unit still ranks second in innings pitched thus far with 42, 3.2 innings fewer than MLB leader Oakland. Those have been efficient innings, too; despite pitching the second-most innings, Red Sox starters rank 15th in MLB in total number of pitches thrown.
Obviously, it’s very early, and it’ll only take one or two bad starts to send the Red Sox’ rotation tumbling down some of these rankings. But so far, the group of Chris Sale (0.82 EA), David Price (0.00 ERA), Rick Porcello (1.69 ERA), Brian Johnson (1.50 ERA) and Hector Velazquez (1.59 ERA as a starter) has been better than anyone could have ever expected. Presumably, they’ll get a boost on Sunday, when Eduardo Rodriguez makes his first start of the year.
It helps, too, that the Red Sox are one of just two teams — along with Cleveland — to have not committed an error this season. As the old saying goes, pitching and defense wins ballgames. Thus far in 2018, the Red Sox are evidence of that.