Josh Beckett has a lot of questions to answer this season.
Hey, it's only three games into the season.
Hey, Texas is a good team.
Hey, they're a new ball club this year, they need to adjust.
All solid points, that Red Sox fans are quick to fall back on to explain the early season set back the Sox faced this weekend in Texas. But no matter how many arguments Sox fans can cook up to explain this three game skid to open the season, the fact still remains that the Red Sox were outscored 26-11 by the Texas Rangers, and their pitching gave up 11 home run balls this weekend. A pathetic start to the season. But hey, the Red Sox don't play well in Texas anyway, right?
Now, I'm not trying to say that the Red Sox season is doomed to be a giant let down for all of Red Sox Nation, but I am saying that this opening series mirrored a lot of similarities that you will see through out the whole season. This starts with the Red Sox pitching rotation.
Jon Lester is notorious for having a painfully slow start to the season. His numbers greatly improve after April and May pass by. So there is not too much to be concerned about with his first game of the season, where he pitched 5.1 innings and allowed five runs. But what about the rest of the rotation?
John Lackey's first start was absolutely abysmal, allowing ten hits in just 3.2 innings and allowing nine earned runs. Clay Buchholz had the best start of all three, allowing four earned runs in 6.1 innings, in a game where the Sox offense scored only one run in support, and Jonathon Papelbon made his first appearance of the season (he gave up two hits, walked one, and let a run score). There seems to be a little more cause for concern now seeing as, as Sox fans, we are anticipating having to wait for a newly rebuilt offense to establish itself. But this pitching rotation is untouched from last year. A year where they greatly under performed expectations.
What AL East team will be left out of the playoffs in 2011?
The offense will come around, they have to. Following a season where the Sox ranked in the top of the league in runs scored (led by Adrian Beltre) the additions of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez will certainly pay off. But will it be enough to get the Red Sox back into the playoffs?
Josh Beckett has a golden opportunity to shake off all the early season concerns that are following him. Coming off one of his worst seasons for the Red Sox (or the Marlins for that matter), the former ace found himself fourth in this rotation that is filled with questions. Beckett takes the mound against the Indians tomorrow, a team that can certainly be beat, giving Beckett the chance to earn the first win in the 2011 season for the Red Sox.
Granted, the season is only three games old for the BoSox, but was anyone expecting this kind of start from a team that had so much hype before the season started. A lot of the Red Sox future depends on the back end of their rotation.
The runs are going to come, Jon Lester will earn another 19 wins and Clay Buchholz will continue to grow in his young career. But Lackey is showing no signs of returning to his west coast form anytime soon. That leaves Beckett and of course, Daisuke Matsuzaka. If Beckett (a former 20 game winner) and Daisuke (a former 18 game winner) can quietly win about 30 games, it gives the Red Sox a lot better shot at meeting the high expectations that fans have set for the ball club. And we can only hope we don't need to see Tim Wakefield again any time soon.