Through the first half of the season, the Red Sox offense has been ranked with the best in baseball despite several key injuries. As those players begin to return to the lineup, it seems as though pitching will decide the team’s fate this season.
In the Red Sox 7-5 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night, the two latest editions to the lineup, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford provided an early spark. Ellsbury singled in the bottom first, then stole second base. He would soon score on a single by Crawford, who went on to steal second base as well, then score on an Adrian Gonzalez single. The ability of these two to get on base then move into scoring position with their speed, will give make this already potent offense that ranks first in runs with 455, even more dangerous.
Though the Red Sox would not score again until late in the game, another poor outing from Jon Lester dug the team into a huge hole. Lester has not been able to find himself this season, as he did not make it past the fourth inning for the second consecutive game and the fourth time this season. His ERA now stands at 4.80 and the team’s starters rank 26th in the league with a 4.77 ERA.
Even with the offense seeming to improve as it returns to health, the Red Sox will need better production from their pitchers. A way to enhance the pitching staff will be to acquire Ryan Dempster from the Chicago Cubs, who the Red Sox have shown interest in. Dempster, who is in the midst of a 33 scoreless innings streak, leads the National League with a 1.86 ERA and could provide a much-needed boost for the Red Sox playoff push. Even though Aaron Cook has pitched well recently, it is not certain how much longer he will pitch this way and the Red Sox do not want to miss their opportunity to acquire an arm like Dempster.
Without acquiring a starting pitcher before the July 31 trade deadline, the Red Sox will need Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholtz to return to their old form. The two have shown signs of dominance this season, but have not been consistent. No one knows what Daisuke Matsuzaka will contribute the rest of the season or if we have already seen the last of him in a Red Sox uniform.
A bright spot in the Red Sox starting rotation has been the emergence of young Felix Doubront. The 24-year old lefty has a 9-4 record and will look to continue his success in game three of the Red Sox series against the White Sox on Wednesday night. Throughout the course of the season, Doubront has been the only source of stability and consistency in the Red Sox rotation.
Over the next few days and weeks, it will be interesting to see if GM Ben Cherington will make a move to help the team’s pitching. Even if a major move is not made, the Red Sox will be in good shape if their other starters can mind themselves and return to natural form.
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