Thursday, April 18, 2013

Red Sox Pitching Staff Leading the Charge

The Boston Red Sox have won five games in a row, to push their record to 10-4 and put themselves as one of the four teams in the majors with 10 wins this season.

The last time they won five in a row? June 16-21, 2012.  But even though last year's team showed strings of greatness, they are nothing like the 2013 Red Sox.  We can actually like this team.

At this stage in the season, having only seen 14 games out of these guys, it is tough to know if the Red Sox are for real or if they are playoff contenders just yet.  But one thing fans can take solace in is that at the end of the day, win or lose, they are watching a great group of players who show up to the ballpark ready to play for their city and have some fun.  At a time like this, nothing could matter more.

One department of the team that is benefiting from this "fresh start" in 2013 is the pitching staff.  Eight out of the 13 pitchers who have taken the mound are boasting a sub-2.70 ERA, with a workload ranging from three to 22 innings pitched.  Two standouts have been starter Clay Buchholz and relief master Koji Uehara.

Buchholz has won all three of his starts, giving up 11 hits, 10 walks and one run, while striking out 23 and holding batters to a .149 average over 22 innings, a team high.  Uehara has gotten through 6.1 innings while giving up just a single hit, striking out seven and holding opponents to just .050.  Oh, and he's only thrown 69 pitches in those seven appearances.

Of course, it hasn't all been sunshine and rainbows.  The new "closer" Joel Hanrahan has been placed in the 15-day disabled list, citing a hamstring injury.  He has given up six earned runs in 4.2 innings for a 11.57 ERA.  Alfredo Aceves, a reliever-turned-starter when John Lackey was forced on the DL following a strained bicep in his pitching arm, has picked up a win in two starts, but has given up 18 hits -- five of them home runs -- and 10 runs in 14.1 innings for a 6.28 ERA.

Much has been said about John Farrell coming back to a familiar pitching staff and how these pitchers have needed a stronger leader than they have had since his departure, and it appears to be paying dividends.  The starting rotation holds a 7-2 record, striking out 98 batters in the 14 games through Wednesday night.

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