Boston Red Sox: Time to Panic? Not Yet, but That Time Is Close

Peter PanacyFeatured Columnist IVApril 13, 2011

Red Sox starting pitcher John Lackey has watched his ERA jump to 15.58 on the young 2011 season.
Red Sox starting pitcher John Lackey has watched his ERA jump to 15.58 on the young 2011 season.Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Boston Red Sox have the worst record in Major League Baseball. After taking two of three from the rival New York Yankees in their home opening series in Boston, followed by two straight losses to the Tampa Bay Rays, the Red Sox have found themselves floundering when most experts in baseball predicted them to win it all in 2011. 

Yet the season is still early, and the small sample size of games means little in showcasing the talent and potential that the 2011 Red Sox have moving forward.

Is it time for the Red Sox and their fans to panic? No.

Is it time to be worried? Yes. 

Everything surrounding the Red Sox is magnified, and the slightest hint of problems within the team can garner the most attention.

Yet this skid that the Sox have endured over the first few weeks of the season has their players and fans wondering just how a season that promised so much has turned out so poorly thus far.

Coming into the 2011 season, Boston bolstered its lineup with perhaps the greatest two offensive acquisitions during the offseason, landing former Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and Rays outfielder Carl Crawford. These two, combined with hitting studs like Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia, promised the Red Sox offense would be something worth noting.

The pitching, anchored by starters like Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and John Lackey, was also supposed to be superior to anything in the American League East.

But it has not happened...yet.

The combined ERA for the Red Sox pitching staff is 6.77, and aside from Beckett (2.08 ERA) and Lester (3.72 ERA), the starting rotation lacks a starter whose ERA is less than 7.00.

The one major strength that the Sox expected to have over the Yankees this year was supposed to be their pitching. Yet that statistic echoes problems early on and may signify changes taking place very soon.

Starter Daisuke Matsuzaka is 0-2 on the young season and has been pummeled to the tune of an ERA of 12.86 thus far. Lackey (1-1) is not faring much better, as he has watched his ERA soar to 15.58.

In a time where championship baseball is defined by the quality of its starting pitching, these are not stats to hope for a championship with. With those statistics, neither starter's spot in the rotation seems safe at this point.

In addition, the Red Sox offense has done little to support its starting rotation thus far. Following Tuesday's game versus the Rays, the Red Sox have a combined batting average of .230. Crawford has yet to blossom in the supposedly dangerous Sox lineup, hitting a meager .152 going into Wednesday.

Yet the struggles that Crawford is experiencing, and those echoed by the majority of the Red Sox so far, should be better and will be over time. An 11-game stretch, even if it is one that the Sox would soon like to forget, is far too small to gauge this team's overall talent. Things will indeed click.

But if the Red Sox are hoping to be top contenders for the American League East title in 2011, they better start clicking soon unless third place is considered a step forward.