This Article was initially featured on New England Sports Online.
Most seasons, grading the Red Sox would involve the starting nine, a couple of bench players, six starting pitchers, and maybe 4-5 bullpen guys. With all the injuries the Sox have been forced to endure, however, grading the team has become a little more complicated.
Nonetheless, I’ve tried to give the players who have seen significant action on the field grades..
Starting with the pitchers:
Scott Atchison: B-. He spent time in the minors early on, but has been a useful player out of the bullpen, eating up innings in big wins or losses.
He has not been very consistent, however, and as a result holds a hefty 4.26 ERA. He’s only given up three bombs this year, and his 1.23 WHIP is slightly misleading, as he tends to give up runs, and base runners, in bunches.
In all, he’s done what the team has asked him to do, and that’s the most you can ask from a journeyman like Atchison.
Daniel Bard: A-. He has been the best bullpen pitcher for this Red Sox team. He has a great 1.99 ERA while logging 41 innings with 44 strikeouts. On the downside, he has given up four home runs, a result of the velocity he throws, so he must fine-tune his location.
Clay Buchholz: A. Despite a recent hamstring injury, Clay Buchholz has been involved in Cy Young talks and was deserving of his All-Star selection. He is 10-4 with a 2.45 ERA. His 1.25 WHIP is not at all shabby, nor are his 64 strikeouts and .231 opposing average. How is that not impressive, and aren't you glad we still have this kid? Yes, you are.
Manny Delcarmen: B/B+. It does not seem like Manny deserves this grade based on his stats. His ERA is lofty at 4.59, he has walked 20 batters while only earning 20 strikeouts in 33 appearances, and his WHIP is 1.41.
However, a lot of these stats were skewed by his last two outings, during which he pitched through a forearm strain (allegedly) and was absolutely hammered. If he actually injured himself, and he’s able to return healthy, expect him to be a 7th/8th inning go-to guy, along with Daniel Bard.
Until the end of June, he was a stud of a pitcher in the pen.
John Lackey: B-/C+. Lackey has pitched some great games, but has really had troubles during day outings. Unfortunately, it seems that he’s always pitching in day games for the Sox. He has a decent 9-5 record with a 4.78 ERA.
Despite giving up 5-6 runs in some outings, he’ll still eat up 6-7 innings, pitching like the horse he truly is. However, he has had control issues (rare for Lackey), issuing 46 walks in 113 innings compared to 33 in 108 last year. He has pitched okay, but okay is not what we paid John Lackey $80 million to be.
Jon Lester: A. A Cy Young front runner, hoisting an 11-3 record and a sub 2.80 ERA. His WHIP sits at an astounding 1.09, and batters have only managed a .203 average off this lefty. Ace of the staff.
Daisuke Matsuzaka: C+. Daisuke has gotten progressively worse since his second year, when he had a 2.90 ERA. Currently, he has a 4.71 ERA, and considering all the stamina he was supposed to have coming from Japan, has only thrown one complete game in four years here.
On the bright side, he’s only given up three home runs this whole year, so I think he ends the year with a respectable 14-6 record with a 4.10 ERA.
Hideki Okajima: D-. After a great first two seasons with the Sox, it seems the mystery that was Okajima has been solved. He has a 6.00 ERA, has blown three saves and struggles to get outs in any scenario.
He has been relegated to a role in the back of the bullpen. I have noticed that he is throwing his splitter too often, not allowing it to be a counter to his deceptive fastball.
As a result, he has allowed five home runs. I expect him to improve after the break, but don’t expect his ERA to be much better than 4.50. Telling of Okajima’s season is the fact that he has appeared in 34 games, but only recorded 27 innings.
Jonathan Papelbon: B. Most other pitchers with Pap’s current statistics earns themselves a B+. However, Jonathan Papelbon is not living up to the high expectations he has set for himself. His ERA is currently at 3.50, but he has allowed six home runs this season, twice as many as Daisuke.
However, he is holding opposing batters to a .211 average and has a 1.11 WHIP. His strikeout:innings pitched ratio is the lowest in his career, at just 0.89. Don’t worry about him though, he gets the job done (20/23 in saves) and his ERA is currently lowering with every outing.
I expect his final WHIP to be below 1.10, with an ERA at 2.65 and a K/innings pitched ratio around .95-1.05 (still low for Pap).
Ramon Ramirez: C-. He has really turned things around. At the beginning of last season, he was a stud in our pen, but after June, he couldn’t record outs. This season started similar to the way last season ended for him, horrifically.
However, he has pulled himself back together, bringing his ERA down to 4.66. Expect this to further decrease, as he is not giving up nearly as many home runs. In his last 18 appearances, he’s only allowed 2 home runs, compared to 2 in his first 10.
Tim Wakefield: C. He has had games that he’s lost despite pitching well, but he has also lost because hitters treat his knuckle ball like the ones from the home run derby. His ERA of 5.65 is not pretty, nor is his 3-9 record. However, over his past 6-7 starts (not including the Rangers one), he has gone 41.2 innings with an ERA of 4.58. He’ll end with an ERA in the 4′s, but don’t expect another All-Star (half-year) from Wake.
The Rest: B+. These pitchers, Felix Doubront, Dustin Richardson and Robert Manuel, have done exactly what the team needed from them. Hold the fort until the team puts itself back together. Doubront won his first major league game, striking out the first batter he ever faced.
He remained calm and collected despite pitching against Manny and the Dodgers. Dustin Richardson and Rob Manuel both have ERAs in the three′s in their limited appearances with the team.
Outlook: When Josh Beckett returns, healthy, the starting rotation should continue dominating, and even without a trade, the bullpen seems to be straightening itself out (at least a little).
Many of the current Red Sox pitchers seem to be improving their games over the past three weeks (until the recent, 4 game stretch where they’ve had problems). Overall, I foresee a strong push from the Sox’ pitching.
For a more in-depth pitching outlook,visit New England Sports Online.