2019 Season Not Off to a Good “Start” for the Red Sox

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In 2018 the Red Sox did not lose their third game until the 20th game of the season on April 21st.  This year, they got it out of the way before the calendar turned to April.  Not exactly the start they were looking for.

Photo courtesy of bostonherald.com

If you watched the four game series in Seattle you know the finger of blame for the woeful start is pointed solely at the starting pitching.  Expected to be one of the team’s strengths, the starters have struggled out of the gate, posting a 13.20 ERA and allowing eight home runs in only 15 innings pitched in the four games.  Were it not for Mitch Moreland’s pinch hit homer in the second game, it is possible the Red Sox could be headed to Oakland at 0-4 to start 2019.

Manager Alex Cora made it clear he would bring his starters along slowly to start the season after leaning heavily on the group in the postseason last year.  The plan also included managing Chris Sale to keep him from falling off later in the season, something that has plagued him throughout his career.
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With the load management plan in place, Sale and Rick Porcello each made only three preseason starts, while Nathan Eovaldi and David Price only logged two starts in major league spring training games.  While all made starts in minor league games or threw “aggressive bullpens”, it is not the same as facing major league competition in a real game situation.  Eduardo Rodriguez, who played a lesser role in the 2018 playoffs, made four starts and one relief appearance in spring training, and was called out by Cora for not being aggressive in his approach.

After the first four games, it is clear that it wasn’t enough.  To say none of the starters were sharp is an understatement.  They were lacking command and leaving pitches out over the plate, and an aggressive Mariner team teed off on their mistakes.

The Red Sox will now look to Price, he of only two Spring Training starts, to right the ship at the start of the four game set in Oakland.  Price will be followed on the mound by either Hector Velazquez or Brian Johnson in the second game of the series, giving Sale an extra days rest with no off days to start the season.  Both have been pressed into service early on (Velazquez two relief appearances, three for Johnson) thanks to the inability of the starters to get into the middle innings.

Of course, it is still very early in the season, and no one is suggesting it is time to panic.  The Red Sox main competition in the American League, the Yankees and Astros, have also gotten off to rocky starts, with the Yankees dropping two out of three to a rebuilding Orioles team, and the Astros going 1-3 against the Rays.  Could they all be suffering postseason hangovers?

One thing about Cora is he is confident in himself and his team, and will stick with his plan even if initial results are not good.  A month from now all the starters may be dealing, and it may carry over throughout the regular season and into another October run.  If that happens, we’ll forget this rough start.  But for now, we can only look back and wonder if maybe the starters got just a little more work in Florida, could the Red Sox be sitting at 3-1 right now, instead of 1-3.

And if you're really looking for a silver lining in the lost weekend, consider this.  No one is talking about how bad the bullpen is anymore.


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Boston Sports Syndicate: 2019 Season Not Off to a Good “Start” for the Red Sox
2019 Season Not Off to a Good “Start” for the Red Sox
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