Monday, June 6, 2016

Green Grass

There's an old saying that applies to the Red Sox these days. "The grass is always greener on the other side of fence. Until you get there, and see that it's artificial turf"

That quote has come to mind a lot lately. Especially as it applies to the Red Sox pitching staff. Now, I'll bet the first to admit that the staff did not exactly shower itself in excellence this weekend. Maybe even the past week. But, some of the tweets I saw made me think that people just don't get it. "We can't win meaningful games with this bullpen!" "This rotation is killing us!" "If this rotation doesn't improve, the Sox can't win anything."

Now, again, I'm not saying the pitching staff is perfect. It's the "can't win" portion of those comments that get to me. Let's take a look at the situation that the Red Sox currently find themselves in. They sit in a virtual tie for first place in the American League East, a mere .003 behind the Orioles. They have the second most wins in the American League, one behind the Rangers. So, clearly, they can win with this pitching staff. In fact, since they have put Clay Buchholz in the bullpen and Joe Kelly in the minors, some would say the rotation is actually better than it was with them in it. So, they have won games with a rotation worse than what they have now. They have also won games with the bullpen they currently have. A lot of games. More than almost anyone else in the league. So, why do people think they "can't win"? 

Are they focused on the "meaningful" portion of the tweets? I'd argue that since more than a third of the season is gone, the fact that they're still at the top of the division is very meaningful. I'd say that two months of wins have meaning. 

So, are you talking about the Playoffs? September? Are those the "meaningful" ones? Well, so far the Sox have played six games against Cleveland, and seven against Baltimore. So, the other teams that would be in the playoffs have made up almost a quarter of the Red Sox schedule thus far. I'd say the fact that they're still putting up wins is a good sign. And if you want to get really specific and say that the playoffs are all that matter, the pen and rotation will be much different. Joe Kelly won't start in the playoffs. So, the fact that he imploded won't affect the rotation in "meaningful" games. 

So, yes. The Red Sox staff has had a rough stretch. There have been a few garbage outings. But, if you're saying it's going to kill the Sox when Koji sometimes has a bad inning, then you're never going to be happy. Could he blow a playoff game? Of course he could. So could Kimbrel. Jonathan Papelbon threw a terrible game once. Marino Rivera blew two saves in two playoff games on the same day. Sometimes people have bad innings. Since the Sox are at the top of the league, clearly other teams are having bad innings too. And bad games. And bad stretches. It happens. It happens to the Sox. It happens to the Orioles. It happens to the Cubs. The good teams overcome the bad spots. Just like the Sox have overcome theirs.

So having a bad inning in May doesn't not mean the team can't win with that pitcher. Or group of pitchers. 

Especially when you can clearly see that they have been doing exactly that.

For the past two months.

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