Boston Red Sox: Clay Buchholz and 5 Players Who Need to Play Better in May
The Red Sox have endured a terrible start to 2012. They started 1-5 and 4-10, and are now in a four-game skid. The offense hasn't been good—they've averaged fewer than three runs in their last six games—but the biggest reason for their struggles has been their pitching.
Their 5.38 ERA is the second-worst in the major leagues, they're last in earned runs and have shut out a team only once.
Boston has started May slowly, too, losing every game this month. If the Sox are to turn things around before it's too late, they need their best players to pick up their game.
At what point do we become concerned about Clay Buchholz? When he had poor performances at the beginning of the season, it could be chalked up to the fact he hadn't pitched since June with a back injury. But now he has made five starts and has been a disaster.
He has given up at least five runs in each of his five appearances, has allowed seven home runs and walked as many as he has struck out. His record is 3-1, which only proves again how useless wins are as a tool for evaluating pitchers.
Adrian Gonzalez's batting average looks decent—at .284, he's fourth on the team.
However, his OPS is only .752, he has 15 RBI and just two home runs in more than 100 at-bats. He has been especially poor of late, batting below the Mendoza line with no home runs and only three RBI.
You just expect Kevin Youkilis to produce at the plate. But that hasn't happened, and he has looked all out of sorts in the batter's box this season.
Even better performances of late have only raised his batting average to .219, and he has struck out four times as often as he has walked, which is the most shockingly un-Youkilis-like part of his season.
Clearly, injuries have had an effect in recent years and have forced him onto the 15-day DL with a lower back strain. He's eligible to return in about a week.
Getting off to a slow start in April has been a trend throughout Jon Lester's career, but he has always turned it around when the calendar flips to May. The Red Sox need him to do it again.
The Sox ace has been painfully inconsistent. He pitched a good game on Opening Day, went through a terrible run in the middle of April, then appeared to be coming out of it with seven shutout innings against the Chicago White Sox.
However, he's gone back again, with a lackluster performance against the Baltimore Orioles, a team he was 14-0 lifetime against with an ERA just above 2.00.
Josh Beckett was skipped in the rotation with a lat strain and replaced by Aaron Cook, who proceeded to give up six runs in 2.2 innings. There's no guarantee Beckett would have been much better.
Okay, at 2-3 with a 4.45 ERA, he hasn't been terrible, but he hasn't been nearly as good as he needs to be. He's only had one very good outing, a handful of mediocre ones and one absolute calamity.
The Red Sox will go as far as their pitching can carry them, and Beckett needs to be somewhere close to where he was last year.
Adam MacDonald is a Scottish journalism student at GCU. He has been a featured columnist for the Boston Red Sox since October 2010. You can follow him on Twitter, or tell him how awesome/terrible this article was, by clicking here.