BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Red Sox have some work to do in the second half of the season. It starts with addressing their pitching staff.
The Red Sox hit the All-Star break at 49-41, fresh off a three-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers. Their season has seesawed since their 3-8 start, and they sit a whopping nine games back of the New York Yankees in the AL East. They are just two games out of the final AL Wild Card spot, with the Cleveland Indians and Oakland Athletics ahead of them.
The biggest issue for the Red Sox so far has been their bullpen, which is expected to be Dave Dombrowski’s focus ahead of the July 31 trade deadline. The Athletic’s Steve Buckley joined Dan Roche on WBZ-TV’s Sports Final on Sunday night to discuss Boston’s season so far, and said if the team doesn’t address their needs in the bullpen, the next three months won’t really matter.
“You really do have to fall back on the bullpen. It’s not Mets bad, but it’s bad for a team contending,” said Buckley. “There are teams with bad bullpens that are called non-contending teams. For a team to be coming off a championship season and to be in contention, I think first place is kind of out the window right now. You’re talking about beating out three or four other teams for the Wild Card right now. They have to address that bullpen otherwise it’s a waste of time.”
It’s not that Boston relievers have been ineffective this season, but it’s how much they’ve been called upon the first three months. Matt Barnes is on pace to make a career-high 72 appearances, while Ryan Brasier has already surpassed his innings total of last season. If their starting pitchers — namely Chris Sale and Rick Porcello — don’t start giving Alex Cora more than five innings in their starts, Buckley says picking up a reliever or two won’t solve all of Boston’s woes.
“Porcello got a win the other day but gave up six runs. Sale has been awful his last 3-4 starts. I know [David] Price won his 150th game today and has been hitting corners like he always does, but you do need Sale and Porcello –bullpen or no bullpen — to bring their games up. Otherwise it doesn’t make any difference,” said Buckley. “We did see Sale right the ship for a while. He wasn’t winning games, because that’s the way that’s happening, but we did see a stretch where he was back to his old game. Suddenly, he’s not that guy that he became, and that’s a concern. Porcello is always going to be a riddle because he doesn’t throw 103 MPH and his stuff has to be fine. He’s a really good pitcher and very well prepared, but when he’s not on, you have trouble.”
Other than Sale and Porcello, who else needs to step up on the roster after the All-Star break? Buck and Rochie broke it all down (with things getting a little heated at the end) on Sports Final and Sports Final OT!