Life of a Sportsaholic

This blog is intended to be insight into my life as an irrational, stats-driven, obsessive sports fan in Boston. I am a fan of all types of sports with an emphasis on Boston teams and am a proud UConn alum.

Tag: craig kimbrel (page 1 of 2)

Grading the Boston Red Sox: One Month In

It’s hard to believe we are already through the first month of the baseball season (almost). Throughout the year, about monthly, I’ll check in with the Red Sox and grade certain aspects of the past month or season as a whole. Every aspect of the team or the team’s play is fair game, from ownership on down to players in the minor leagues and other team officials. Read through my thoughts and then share how you are feeling about this team in the comments section or on our Facebook page. I look forward to hearing from you!

John Farrell – C

Since we are starting from the beginning, a natural place to start is with the bench leader. Farrell has continued his pattern of being a meh game manager in 2017. The most glaring and perfect example of Farrell’s (lack of) game management skill came on April 20th against the Toronto Blue Jays. Sale was cruising through 8 shutout innings with just 4 hits, 13 Ks, and 102 pitches. The Red Sox were winning 1-0 at the time and Sale had struck out 2 in the 8th. Instead of letting Sale go back out for the 9th, he brought in Craig Kimbrel who immediately (2nd pitch) gave up a HR to Kendrys Morales. He recovered and the Red Sox won in 10, but it was the wrong managerial move. It was so bad that Farrell had to have a closed door chat with Sale afterword to explain his decision.

Mitch Moreland – A+

Without a doubt, the biggest surprise of 2017 for me is Moreland. I figured he would be a mediocre hitter with some pop (.250 with 15 HRs) and a solid defensive first baseman, but he has far surpassed my expectations. Through 19 games played, Moreland has a .315 average with 11 doubles (1st in AL) and 2 HRs. He has an error, but has been solid defensively. I definitely don’t expect his hot start to carry on throughout the year (career .255 hitter including this year), but it seems Fenway Park is a great fit for Moreland.

Jackie Bradley Jr. – Incomplete (2 out of 10 on his topple rounding first base)

It’s been an odd start to 2017 for JBJ mostly because he has only appeared in 7 games thanks to a knee injury. The oddest part is how the injury happened. JBJ was rounding first base on a fly out when his toe got stuck, jamming his knee, and forcing him to stumble and fall like a clumsy toddler learning to walk. He was forced to the DL and didn’t come off until this past week (April 21st). Since returning he has 3 hits, including a monster HR onto Eutaw St. in Baltimore, so things are looking up.

Steven Wright – D

What the hell happened to Steven Wright? Oh yeah, he’s a knuckleballer. The most notoriously inconsistent pitch in baseball. As dominant as Wright was in the first half+ of last season, the knuckleball giveth and the knuckleball taketh away. The numbers are ugly – 8.66 ERA, 7 HRs and 17 earned runs in 4 starts with just 9 Ks – and the struggles seem to be continuing. To be fair, 2 of his starts were against the power-hitting Orioles, which is a tough match-up, but at this point it’s hard to be too optimistic.

Chris Sale – A++

With expectations through the roof for Chris Sale to be THE ace of the Red Sox staff, he pitched even better than advertised. Whenever a pitcher is being compared to Pedro Martinez after his 1st 4 starts in a Red Sox uniform, good stuff is happening. Sale has a scary low 0.91 era through 4 starts and has allowed 1 HR and just 3 earned runs while racking up a league high 42 Ks. If he had even a tiny bit of run support he could be sitting at 4-0 on the young season, but instead he has a meager 1-1 record. The runs will come at some point and then Sale will begin to pile up the Ws.

Matt Barnes – F

Overall, Barnes has pitched OK early in 2017, allowing 4 runs in 10 innings of work out of the bullpen. On it’s own, that’s probably a C-ish grade, but what dropped Barnes to an F was his throw at Manny Machado‘s head on Sunday. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: throw at someone all you want, but don’t go near the head. It was a dumbass move by the young reliever and in turn, cost him a 4 game suspension (pending appeal). That pitch started a clubhouse rift with team leader Dustin Pedroia, which for a guy still trying to earn consistent relief appearances late in the game, could be harmful. Time will tell how this pans out, but at this moment, Barnes’ reputation isn’t looking great.

Pablo Sandoval – D

Hopes were high for Panda in 2017 after he arrived to Fort Myers early and in great shape. He was moving well and seemed to have a renewed attitude. Now, 17 games into the season, Panda is hitting .213 with 3 HRs (the bright spot and reason he is graded a D) with 13 Ks. He has had a few big hits late in games, but that’s about all he can boast at this point. Defensively, he’s struggling just as much, with 4 errors in the early season. At this pace, he is averaging 38+ errors for every 162 games. That’s just bad. Even worse? He now has a sprained knee and is on the DL, likely keeping him out into at least the first week of May (if not longer). Different year, same story.

Encouraging Start to the Road Trip for Red Sox

drew pomeranz getty

The biggest issue for the Red Sox thus far in 2016 is winning close games and low-scoring games. On Monday afternoon, the Red Sox checked off both boxes when they beat the Cleveland Indians 3-2. The beginning of a 4-city, 11-game road trip was tight until the final out and despite some scary, heart-stopping moments from closer Craig Kimbrel, the win was extremely refreshing. Before Monday, the Red Sox were an abysmal 4-32 when scoring 3 or fewer runs. That’s an incredibly concerning trend, especially if the Red Sox hope to make the playoffs and have a chance at winning anything. Guess what the postseason is full of? Close, low-scoring games.

This 11-game road trip is pivotal for the Red Sox. The trip includes 2 games against the Baltimore Orioles who are just ahead of the Red Sox in the standings and then 4 against the Detroit Tigers who are nipping at their heals for the 2nd wildcard spot. If the Red Sox emerge from this tough road stretch at 6-5 or better, they will be in great shape as a friendlier September schedules waits around the corner. They need to carry their 4-game winning streak and all the momentum it gives them into Baltimore, because we know the Orioles will be ready for a dog fight.

The other major promising thing from Monday afternoon was Drew Pomeranz. He picked up his first win in a Red Sox uniform and looked strong through 7.2 innings. He allowed just 1 run going into the 7th, but got into a little trouble in the inning allowing his 2nd. To go along with allowing just 2 runs, he had 6 Ks, 5 hits, and just 2 BBs. Monday was just what the doctor ordered and gave fans hope that some strong performances down the stretch are not out of the question from him.

Another Injury in the Red Sox Bullpen

koji uehara injury getty

After 8 innings in yesterday’s Boston Red Sox game against the San Francisco Giants the Red Sox were cruising 4-0. Rick Porcello looked strong and John Farrell went to Koji Uehara to finish the team shutout. Just 7 pitches into his appearance, Uehara grabbed his chest and was taken out of the game. We later found out Uehara strained his pectoral and will be re-evaluated on Wednesday. Uehara becomes the 4th bullpen arm to go down to injury this year.

As of Wednesday morning, we don’t know what the future will be for Koji, but with Craig Kimbrel recovering from knee surgery, Carson Smith gone for the season with Tommy John surgery, and Junichi Tazawa working through a shoulder impingement, the acquisition of Brad Ziegler is even more important than ever. After being on the team for a week he is the defacto closer and will likely play a major role going forward.

If Uehara has to miss time, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Joe Kelly make another major league appearance, although this time out of the bullpen. He has been working as a reliever in the minors for potentially this situation, however I’m not sure if the Red Sox have any confidence in him making a major league impact.

Whether Koji is on the shelf for a while or not, the Red Sox need to fight through this period of injury and hopefully get Tazawa back soon and Kimbrel back in August. Once everyone is healthy, the Red Sox could have a strong back end of the bullpen come September.

Injuries Mounting as Red Sox Add a Bullpen Arm

Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY Sports

After Friday night’s win over the Tampa Bay Rays, Dave Dombrowski worked into the night to bring in a back end bullpen arm. Earlier in the day, Junichi Tazawa and Craig Kimbrel were both unavailable due to injury, leaving a few giant holes in the ‘pen. We know now that Kimbrel had torn his meniscus going for a ground ball in batting practice and will need surgery (out 3-6 weeks). To add depth to the ‘pen Dombrowski traded RHP Jose Almonte and infielder Luis Alejandro Basabe to the Arizona Diamondback for set-up man Brad Ziegler.

Ziegler is a legit late-inning arm who can close if needed. The side-armer is 36-years old and has a 2.82 ERA with just 1 HR allowed in 38.1 innings this year with the DBacks. He has walked 15 batters this year, more than you would like to see, but should compliment the other bullpen arms well. Given Kimbrel’s injury and Koji Uehara‘s age, I think Ziegler will get some set-up and closing opportunities over the next few weeks. His veteran presence should help stabilize a sometimes shaky bullpen down the stretch.

Also on Friday night, Brock Holt left with and ankle sprain and Hanley Ramirez fouled a ball of his shin. Both did not play on Saturday and I would guess will not play Sunday as well, given the extended all-star break begins on Monday. They can rest and be fully ready to go when the Red Sox return to action on Friday, July 15th in the Bronx against the Yankees.

Six All-Stars for 3rd Place Red Sox

Image from Fan World

Image from Fan World

Before another tough loss for the Red Sox on Tuesday night that dropped the Red Sox to 3rd place in the AL East, the 2016 All-Star rosters were announced. The Red Sox headlined the American League squad with 6 selections and the potential for a 7th (Dustin Pedroia is one of 5 players in the Final Vote). This is exciting news for the players and as a Red Sox fan, it will be enjoyable to watch them participate in all-star festivities, but do the Red Sox really deserve 6 or 7 all-stars?

The 3 of the 6 Red Sox players selected were no brainers: David OrtizXander Bogaerts and Steven Wright. Ortiz and Bogaerts are ranked 3rd and 5th respectively in all of baseball in batting average and it’s hard to argue they both aren’t the best player at their respective position in the AL, if not all of baseball (definitely for Ortiz with no DH in the NL). Wright has been stellar this season for the Red Sox. In 16 starts he has the 2nd best ERA in the AL (2.42) and has held opponents to a .217 batting average against. He will have a real shot at getting the nod to start for the AL on July 12th.

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Kimbrel Implodes in Red Sox Loss

image

Aren’t the Red Sox supposed to be a stats driven organization? A team that thinks about match ups and numbers sometimes to a fault? Apparently John Farrell didn’t get the memo and for the 14th time this season used Craig Kimbrel in a non-save situation. In those 14 appearances he has a 6.75 ERA and has allowed 10 runs, 12 hits and 10 walks. I would rather have almost anyone else on the mound in that situation, but I guess numbers aren’t that important to Farrell.

I don’t want to hear the post game bullshit: ‘Kimbrel hasn’t pitched since Friday’ or ‘It’s standard procedure to use the closer there’ or ‘Kimbrel needs to pitch better than that’. Yes Kimbrel hasn’t pitched since Friday, yes it is common to use a closer in that situation and yes Kimbrel needs to pitch better, but if your closer sucks in non-save situations, you don’t put him in the game during those situations, it’s as simple as that. Kimbrel should be better, but he’s not, so this decision is on Farrell.

Who knows what happens if Kimbrel stays in the ‘pen, but a 3-2 game with David Ortiz leading off the 9th inning would have been more fun to watch than Big Papi leading off the 9th inning down 7-2. At least then the Red Sox would have had a chance for a W.

Red Sox Pick Up Important Game

Fred Thornhill/The Canadian Press via AP

Fred Thornhill/The Canadian Press via AP

After a terrible 10-16 month of June, the Red Sox began July with hope of improvement or risk another lost season. July started off well when the Red Sox scored their first 1st inning run since June 11th. They piled on 4 more runs behind Steven Wright to build a 5-0 lead and then the rain came. As the rain began to fall, Wright’s knuckleball became ineffective and the game got very hairy, very quickly.

In the 6th, Wright allowed a double to Albert Pujols, hit Jefry Marte with a pitch and walked former Red Sox outfielder Daniel Nava to load the bases. The knuckleball was flat, so Wright went to the fastball on a 3-2 count to CJ Cron which he hit for a grand salami. Just like that, a shutout for Wright turned into a 5-4 tight ballgame. After rain came in force and the game was delayed, the Red Sox behind Koji Uehara and Craig Kimbrel closed out a 1-run win.

The win was important because the Baltimore Orioles lost to the Minnesota Twins, allowing the Red Sox to gain a game and sit 4 games back of 1st place in the AL East. The game also hopefully builds some confidence and helps propel the team to a much better July than June.

Red Sox Tailspin Gets Worse

Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports

Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports

After a 13-7 drubbing at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays last night, the Red Sox are spiraling out of control with no end in sight. Eduardo Rodriguez looked terrible once again last night and was optioned to AAA Pawtucket immediately after the game, leaving yet another hole in the already thin Red Sox rotation. Now 4.5 games back of the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East and 9-15 in the month of June, the Red Sox are getting close to losing this season all together. What was once promising is now a disaster.

The “Fire John Farrell” conversation is once again heating up, especially after using his three best late-inning relievers (Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara and Craig Kimbrel) in a blowout yesterday, which just makes no sense. For a pitching-focused manager to have a struggling pitching staff is hard to swallow. The team struggles are certainly not all on Farrell’s shoulders because he’s not the one out on the field performing, but ultimately the Red Sox need a shake-up and the manager is the easiest solution. Farrell is a solid manager, but his in-game decisions have always been a bit questionable which make him replaceable, even if it is just to send a message to the team.

I don’t have a solution, but know that something needs to happen soon or this will surely be another lost season for the Red Sox. No one wants that…

Kimbrel Bad When Not Under Pressure

Graphic from @BBTN on twitter

The difference in Craig Kimbrel’s numbers is staggering when talking about save vs non-save situations.

Close Games Continue to Hurt Red Sox

AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

Last night’s pitcher’s duel between David Price and Chris Tillman lived up to the hype. Both starters looked a little vulnerable early on, then settled in nicely with shutdown stuff. Unfortunately for Price, of the 5 hits he allowed, 2 were HRs leading to a 3-2 loss. This was the 14th game this year the Red Sox have played with the final score being a 1-run differential and they are 5-9 in those contests.

For me, close game records say a lot about a team. They give a glimpse into the team’s ability to pull together and rally. In last night’s game, the Red Sox bullpen was strong (only Craig Kimbrel for 1 inning), but their offense could not produce the big hit when needed. Earlier in the game, there were chances with runners on base and less than 2 outs that resulted in nothing.

The once over-powering offense top to bottom now has more holes than swiss cheese. Hanley Ramirez and Travis Shaw both had hits last night, but have been struggling mightily as of late. Christian Vazquez is what he is: a top tier defensive catcher who will hit in the low .200s. Jackie Bradley Jr. is coming back to earth with his average dropping from .350 on May 25th to .310 on June 15th. On their own, none of these things are season-changers, but all together it amounts to some serious struggle.

In June, the Red Sox have a 4-7 record and are 0-3 in 1-run games. Overall they are 15-17 against AL East opponents. Things are trending in the wrong direction.

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