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Boston Red Sox Fire & Ice: David Ortiz Hot, Grady Sizemore Cold

May 19th, 2014 at 10:43 AM
By Sean Penney

Baseball season is a 162 game marathon where everyone encounters their fair share of ups and downs. Not even the greatest players stay hot all season, as there are always bumps in the road. Likewise, nobody stays in a slump the entire time either. Well, at least not those who keep their spot on the team.

That’s why this season I’ll be taking a look at examples of players from the Red Sox roster that fall on each end of that spectrum. Which players are scorching hot and which ones currently find themselves in an ice cold slump.

Typically I’ll be focusing primarily on production from the past week, but this being the first of these columns, I’ll start out by examining players based on how they’ve been performing all season.

On Fire

David Ortiz
.299/.394/.565, 11 HRs, 25 RBIs

Big Papi has been the only consistent hitter for the Sox in a lineup that shockingly doesn’t have a single player hitting over .300 so far this season. Even at age 38, Ortiz shows no signs of slowing down. He’s leading the team in almost every offensive category and his 11 Home Runs ties him for the 4th most in the AL. With a new contract extension in place that should keep him in Boston for the rest of his career, Ortiz is free to do what he does best without the distraction of uncertainty weighing him down.

Jon Lester
2.67 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 73 Ks

Lester has carried his postseason success into this season, where his 4-5 record hardly paints an accurate picture of his performance. His duel with reigning Cy Young winner, Max Scherzer, in a 1-0 loss last weekend is a perfect example of the hard luck Lester has had this season. Lester has been a workhorse, tossing 60.2 innings (5th in the AL) with an ERA that would easily be a career best if he can keep it up the rest of the season. He’s also 2nd in the AL with 73 strikeouts, while posting a career high 10.8 K/9.

Ice Cold

Grady Sizemore
.226/.297/.348, 2 HRs, 13 RBIs

Sizemore was the feel good story of the spring after returning from an over two year absence from the league to make the Opening Day lineup thanks to a surprisingly productive Spring Training. However, once the games actually began to count, the team stopped being able to count on Sizemore. The good news is that he has managed to stay on the field for 33 of the team’s first 43 games and has thus far avoided the injury bug that has plagued his career. The bad news is that this version of Sizemore that we’ve seen isn’t anything like the All-Star we saw from 2006-2008. Of course it’s unfair to have expected that after so much time away from the game, but a strong spring raised our expectations to unreasonable levels. Everyone loves a good comeback story, but if Sizemore doesn’t turn things around soon, his story may not have a happy ending.

Clay Buchholz
6.17 ERA, 1.80 WHIP, 33 Ks

Buchholz would have led the league in ERA last year (1.74) if he had pitched enough innings to qualify, but a trip to the disabled list limited him to only 16 starts. He returned in time for Boston’s postseason run, but did not appear to be the same dominant pitcher we saw prior to his injury. This year he’s supposedly healthy, but the results are much worse. His K/9, BB/9 and HR/9 numbers are all in line with his career numbers. The problem is he’s giving up far too many hits (13.2 H/9). Some of that can be attributed to bad luck, but he’s also struggling with his location and leaving too many pitches over the middle of the plate. Is the problem mental or mechanical? Either way, as long as it’s not something he’s altered in his delivery to compensate for a hidden injury, he should be able to correct it.

Tags: Baseball, Boston, Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz, David Ortiz, Grady Sizemore, Jon Lester, MLB

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