By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Red Sox have played five real baseball games this season. They’ve won just one of them. It hasn’t been great.
And while there are issues to be found up and down the roster, starting pitching has clearly been problem No. 1 for the team thus far. And problem No. 2. And No. 3. And four and five.
After David Price allowed four earned runs over his six innings in Boston’s 7-0 loss in Oakland on Monday night, the Red Sox have officially seen one start apiece from all five members of their starting rotation. The results have been grisly.
Together, the five-man unit of Chris Sale, Nathan Eovaldi, Rick Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez and Price have combined to put forth these numbers:
.351 batting average against
24 strikeouts, 13 walks
11 home runs allowed
In terms of where that stands in Major League Baseball, as you might expect, it’s not very good.
Red Sox starters rank dead last in ERA and dead last in WHIP. They’ve given up the most homers, despite only pitching the 19th-most innings. According to ESPN (per Elias), the 2019 Red Sox are now tied with the 1978 Blue Jays and 1955 Braves for the most home runs allowed by starters through five games.
Likewise, Red Sox starters are tied for the third-most walks, despite only pitching 21 innings.
The ERA ranking is particularly grim. The Sox rank 30th with an 11.14 ERA, which is almost two runs worse than the 29th-ranked Rangers at 9.35. The Diamondbacks rank 28th with an 8.88 ERA, and the next-highest mark in the bigs is St. Louis at 6.46.
Now, of course, this was a rotation that was lauded all spring long as perhaps being the best in baseball. And surely, this level of struggle will not last long. There’s simply too much talent and experience in that group. And there’s a reason that five-game sample sizes are not considered particularly valuable in terms of overall evaluation.
Nevertheless, this was not the way anyone in the Red Sox organization wanted to begin the year. And on Tuesday night in Oakland, in front of literally hundreds of fans, the Red Sox will turn to Sale to stem the tide and give the Red Sox a solid start for the first time this season.