The Red Sox getting out of the gate well has come despite some cold starts.
Coming off a 93-loss season last year, the Boston Red Sox already look much better in 2013, having won five of their first nine games. However, not everything is clicking on all cylinders yet, and some of the team’s coldest starts of the season will continue as the year progresses.
Despite early optimism, there are also points of concern. Looking at statistics and trends, there are some early struggles that won’t be fully corrected as the season goes on.
Less than two weeks into the season is a small sample to gauge, but contrasting these starts with existing evidence gives a good idea of what to expect moving forward.
Click through to see what cold starts won’t warm up with the temperatures as the season plays out in Boston.
Carp has been a forgotten man so far this season in Boston.
Carp, an outfielder and first baseman, was acquired this past offseason from the Seattle Mariners to provide bench depth and to hopefully replicate the promising .791 OPS he had in 2011 in 79 major league games.
Thus far in 2013, he’s gone hitless in two pinch-hit at-bats. It’s a good indicator he will likely struggle for playing time and find it difficult to gain the momentum needed to put together a solid season.
He was leapfrogged in spring training by rookie outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. With Mike Napoli entrenched as the starter at first base, and designated hitter David Ortiz scheduled to return from the disabled list in the near future, he figures to get few starting opportunities.
Carp is even slipping down Boston’s bench depth chart. Outfielder Daniel Nava, who also learned first base during spring training, is off to a scorching start with a 1.467 OPS. It appears he’s in line to get the lion’s share of playing time off the bench for the foreseeable future.
Through little fault of his own, Carp’s playing time should continue to be limited and keep him out in the cold as the season forges ahead.
Production has been a little light out of Boston's fourth spot in the lineup.
The cleanup spot is one of the most important positions in a lineup and often reserved for a team’s best hitter.
So far, Boston has had very little production from their four-hole.
In their first nine games, their cleanup hitters have combined for just eight hits and two home runs in 38 at-bats with 12 strikeouts and one walk.
The lack of production can be traced to designated hitter David Ortiz and his 401 career major league home runs starting the season on the disabled list.
Although Boston’s cleanup hitters will get better as the season wears on, they will have a hard time replicating last season’s cumulative .281 batting average, 27 home runs and .827 OPS.
Ortiz is expected back soon, but he is 37 and has played in just one game since last July 16. His advancing age and lengthy layoff could make it difficult for him to quickly rediscover the timing that contributed to the .321 batting average and 1.026 OPS he had in 90 games last year.
Signs are pointing for a prolonged cold spell from Boston’s cleanup hitters in 2013.
Hanrahan has been an adventure in the ninth innings.
Unfortunately, the 31-year-old right-hander has gotten off to a rough start this season. After blowing a two-run lead in Wednesday’s loss to the Baltimore Orioles, his ERA stands at 11.57 after 4.2 innings.
A closer look at the numbers suggest Hanrahan can expect his cold start to continue.
Although he saved 40 games and had a 2.72 ERA last year for the Pittsburgh Pirates, his 1.2 home runs and 5.4 walks allowed per nine innings were his highest marks since his rookie season in 2007.
According to ESPN.com’s box scores, he’s averaged 19 pitches per inning over his first five appearances, with just 59 percent being strikes. This suggests a lack of control and command, which are not desirable traits for a closer.
Hanrahan may rack up some saves this season, but is likely to have a good number of adventurous outings and prove his cold start is no fluke.
Statistics via Baseball-Reference