By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Red Sox have the third-highest payroll in Major League Baseball. The Boston Red Sox are staffed with sage baseball minds up and down the front office. The Boston Red Sox are an organization that knows how to build a champion.
Combining all of those factors, it’s frankly unbelievable and inexcusable for the Red Sox’ pitching situation to be in the place that it is in right now.
That’s been evident for three straight days now, and it’s not going to improve on Tuesday night, either.
On Saturday, Chaim Bloom’s lone real addition to the starting rotation took the mound against the worst team in baseball; Martin Perez gave up five runs (four earned) in five innings of work.
A day later, it was Ryan Weber getting the start; he couldn’t make it out of the fourth inning, getting stung for six earned runs on six hits and three walks. He had zero strikeouts in the outing.
That was merely the appetizer, though, for Monday evening, when Red Sox fans tuned in to the 7:30 p.m. start and immediately pondered, “… who?”
The “who” was Josh Osich, a 31-year-old left-hander with a 5.56 ERA and 1.455 WHIP over the past three seasons for the Giants and White Sox. The Red Sox claimed him off waivers during the offseason, hoping to have found a diamond in the rough.
Whether they get that gem cannot be answered after one appearance, but the early returns weren’t encouraging. After getting out of the first inning (thanks to two unorthodox outs), Osich opened up the second inning by walking the leadoff man (who had crushed a “foul ball” home run) and then giving up a 434-foot bomb to Michael Conforto. Osich would get out of the inning without further damage, but that ended the evening for the “opener.”
That’s when manager Ron Roenicke went to … Jeffrey Springs, a fellow who no doubt had those same Red Sox fans yelling, “Wait … WHO?!”
Springs is a 27-year-old lefty who had a 6.40 ERA and a 1.887 WHIP last year, walking 23 batters in just 32.1 innings of work. Bloom acquired Springs in exchange for Sam Travis back in January, after the Rangers had designated him for assignment.
Springs surrendered a one-out single to Amed Rosario before giving up arguably the most violent home run in the history of baseball. See for yourself:
Since the start of 2019, @Pete_Alonso20 has hit three HR at 115+ mph.
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) July 28, 2020
Dennis Eckersley said it best: “Ohh … Oh my! Ohh … that was ridiculous.”
That ball came off the bat at 116.3 mph, and it’s fortunate for humanity that live fans were not seated atop the Monster, because that could have been a very damaging blast.
With that rocket of a homer, the Mets led 4-0 while the one-two punch of Osich and Springs had combined to record just seven outs.
And things didn’t improve in the fourth, which Springs opened by giving up a double to Wilson Ramos and issuing a walk to Robinson Cano. Dominic Smith — batting eighth for New York — then sent a ball into the bullpen to make it a 7-0 lead for the Mets.
The game was all but over.
Zack Godley entered for the Red Sox after that and was, against all odds, tremendously effective. Godley, who had an ERA near 6 last year and couldn’t make the Tigers this year, pitched four shutout innings with seven strikeouts for Boston. It was his highest strikeout total in one appearance since April 11 of last year. But it was too late for such a performance to matter, as the 7-0 hole proved to be too deep for the Red Sox’ offense to climb all the way back.
Anyone hoping for relief on Tuesday night won’t get it, as it will be the inimitable Matt Hall getting the start for the Red Sox. Hall spent his first two big league seasons with Detroit, where he had a 9.48 ERA and a 2.074 WHIP across 21 big league appearances. Last year at the Triple-A level, he had a 5.30 ERA and a 1.535 WHIP.
Those aren’t numbers that typically warrant major league employment, let alone a starting gig in the fifth game of the season. Yet for the Red Sox, these days it seems the only qualification to start games it the possession of a hat, a glove, and a good attitude.
Put everything together, and the Red Sox have a team ERA of 5.50, which ranks 10th in the American League. Even despite Nathan Eovaldi’s solid showing on Opening Day, their starters have a 6.75 ERA, which ranks 13th in the AL. Opponents are hitting .293 off Boston starters, the fourth-highest mark in the AL. The bullpen’s collective ERA of 4.19 ranks 10th in the AL.
In a 162-game season, perhaps it could all be spun as being “early.” Yet in a season where each game is the equivalent of 2.7 games in a regular schedule, the Red Sox are now 1-3, and they’re sending Matt Hall out to the hill to try to beat the Mets on Tuesday. The next day in Queens, the Red Sox will get Eovaldi back on the bump … only to be opposed by Jacob deGrom. Perez will get the ball on Thursday before the Red Sox head over to the Bronx to face the formidable Yankees lineup with the bottom three members of their “rotation” getting the starts.
It’s not at all hyperbolic to look at that picture and say that Boston’s season may effectively be over by Sunday night.
Obviously, losing Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez hurt the rotation badly. But Sale’s injury took place in the spring, when there was still time to make some prudent big league moves. Instead, Bloom and Co. have been scouring the very bottom of baseball’s bargain bins to try to get lucky. Through four games, the strategy looks to be nothing short of disastrous.