Another day, another bad outing by a Red Sox starting pitcher. It has become more and more clear that the Red Sox starting rotation is reaching crisis mode. Of the 9 pitchers who have started a game for the Red Sox, just 2 have ERAs under 4 and only 1 under 3.90 (Wright at 2.18). The sheer mediocrity has forced me to take a look one-by-one at the grades each pitcher gets for their performance so far in 2016. Preview: it’s not good.
David Price – C-
Before Friday’s terrible performance Price had a stretch of three straight 8-inning outings and was looking like he was turning a corner. That stretch is the main reason he has a C- grade and not lower. So far through 16 starts in 2016 Price has the highest ERA of his career 4.68 (career average is 3.19), the highest hits/9 IP of his career (8.8), and lowest WAR (0.7) since his 1st year in the league when he only pitched 14 innings. If you grade him based on expectations and salary, he would be a D- and that might even be generous.
Steven Wright – A
Through 15 starts, Steven Wright is by far the best pitcher on this staff. Coming into Spring Training it appeared there wasn’t a spot in the rotation for him, but he forced the Red Sox to put him on the opening say roster. Hey look, something the Red Sox do not regret. Wright has a league-best 2.18 ERA with 84 Ks and 39 BBs. He has gone at least 6 innings in 12 of his 15 starts and has 3 complete games. He has allowed just 5 HRs on the season, which is low for a knuckleballer (and 9 less than Price has allowed over the same stretch).
Rick Porcello – B-
When looking at his numbers and watching him on the mound, Porcello isn’t going to make your eyes pop. When he is pitching well, he is a solid middle-end of the rotation arm who can hopefully keep you in games. Through 15 starts, he has looked solid. He has gone at least 6 innings in 12 of his 15 starts and allowed more than 4 earned runs just once (5 earned runs on June 2nd against Baltimore). The Red Sox need Porcello to continue to perform to provide some stability in the middle of the rotation.
Clay Buchholz – D-
The only thing saving Buchholz from an F are his appearances out of the bullpen. Overall in 2016 Buchholz has a 5.90 ERA with just 52 Ks in 76.1 innings. He has allowed 15 HRs and allowed at least 5 earned runs in 6 of his 12 starts this season. In his 5 bullpen appearances over 9.1 innings he allowed 3 earned runs, but looked better than when starting. Unfortunately he was forced back into the rotation where he continues to suck.
Joe Kelly – F
For Kelly it started bad and only got worse. He only started 6 games with the Red Sox this year due to injury and then terrible performance. Of his 6 outings, Kelly only reached past the 5th inning once in his season gem on May 21 (6.2 IP, 0 ER, 7 Ks). Outside of that one start, Kelly allowed at least 5 earned runs in 3 of the other 5 games and 3 times pitched in 3 or less innings (once because of injury). Sadly, Kelly isn’t even good enough to be in the anemic Red Sox rotation anymore.
Eduardo Rodriguez – D-
After a Spring Training injury forced Rodriguez to start the season on the DL, his return was met with much anticipation. His first outing was solid, 6 IP, 2 ER and 3Ks, providing some hope for fans. Unfortunately, the next three outings resulted in not making it out of the 6th inning in any appearance and 14 earned runs combined (including 5 HRs allowed). E-Rod has struggled to keep runs off the board and has allowed 7 HRs in his 6 starts. The potential is there, but currently he is far from living up to it.
Henry Owens – D
Another under-performing Red Sox prospect, Owens was thought to potentially have a shot at the rotation out of Spring Training. He spent the first bit of the season in AAA, but then came up for a string of 3 starts from April 24 to May 5. He gets a D here because despite only going 3.1 innings and 3.0 innings in 2 of his 3 starts, he only allowed 5 total earned runs in those 2 starts. If he can cut down on his walks, he has some serious potential (in 12.1 innings he walked 13 batters compared to just 9 Ks). Maybe a D grade is hopeful?
Sean O’Sullivan – F
Maybe it’s an unfair sample size, but in 2 starts and 1 relief appearance, O’Sullivan allowed 10 earned runs in 11.1 innings. That’s just bad and not going to earn you more playing time. With the way the rotation is going, maybe another chance is on the horizon.
Roenis Elias – F-
If Sean O’Sullivan was an F, Elias is an F-. In 1 start and 1 relief appearance, Elias allowed 10 earned runs in just 5.2 innings. The bus back to Pawtucket was warmed-up and ready to go before Elias finished his outing on June 17th. We’ll see if the Red Sox are desperate enough to give it another go, but somehow I think even in chaotic times AAA is the place for Elias.
Overall – C/C-*
*For those who care, weighted based on number of starts and a numeric association with each grade. Yes, I took it that far.