Red Sox mid-season grades: Pitchers
Red Sox mid-season grades: Pitchers
BOSTON — The Red Sox had the second-best ERA in the American League in the first half, 3.82. The pitching has been the bedrock, with a surprisingly dominant effort from the bullpen as well as a rotation that lacked David Price for the first two months of the season. The relievers have the second-best ERA in the AL, 3.04, while the starters have the third best, 4.21. (A random aside: the Orioles rotation had a 5.75 ERA, worst in the AL.)
Here are the first-half grades for the most important arms the Sox have. For the first-half grades for position players, click here.
Chris Sale: A+
Yoan Moncada who? Chris Sale has been everything the Red Sox, their fans and Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski could have wanted. Dombrowski likes big names, he likes big deals, and he landed the gold standard in Sale. The lefty’s starts should be appointment viewing for you, if they’re not already.
Rick Porcello: C+
Some regression from the reigning A.L. Cy Young winner was expected. But realistically, a 4.75 ERA goes beyond a normal drop-off. His sinker wasn’t sinking for a time, but with a 3.71 ERA in his past four starts, he might be back on track. His 4.07 FIP makes pretty clear he’s been a victim of some bad luck on top of the obvious faults.
David Price: B
His command was shaky when he first returned from injury, which is unsurprising given how quickly he came back from what he’s called a torn elbow. Price’s general inability to avoid drama is not a positive, but it doesn’t outweigh what he does on the mound. His stuff has been excellent, and he could be primed for a huge second half if he can go deeper into games.
Drew Pomeranz: B+
No one’s screaming for Anderson Espinoza to come back now. Pomeranz is striking out nearly 10 per nine innings. The only real knock of late is efficiency and ability to pitching deep into games.
Don’t look past his 3.68 FIP. Considering the arm injuries he’s dealt with, his reliability has been all the more impressive.
Eduardo Rodriguez: B-
When Porcello was struggling early in the season, Rodriguez was the team’s No. 2 behind Sale. Another knee subluxation derailed his first half, but while he was healthy, he was a significant contributor. You just wish you had more of him.
Craig Kimbrel: A
The right-handed, relief version of Chris Sale, minus a changeup. Year Two for Kimbrel in Boston has been a combination of greater comfort in his environment and, more importantly, with his mechanics. He’s not walking people and he’s striking out everyone. The only thing keeping Kimbrel from an A+ is the strange saga of his usage. If he and the Red Sox want to do what’s best for the team, they’ll realize there will be times he should be used in the eighth inning, not the ninth, and let someone else record a save.
Matt Barnes: B
The strikeouts are there and so are the walks. Barnes, by and large, was reliable, but he also had had control flare-ups where he lost his mechanics. He’s improved on an encouraging 2016 season, but he hasn't firmly entrenched himself as the No. 2 relief pitcher.
Joe Kelly: B+
If Kelly could pitch in back to back games, he’d probably have a higher grade. Nonetheless, in his first full season as a reliever, there’s a lot to like. The 100-mph heat hasn’t always translated to strikeouts, but he’s varying up his deliveries to try to create more deception and his 1.49 ERA is eye-popping. A 6.4 K/9 is still less than you want, but he’s not allowing home runs.
Heath Hembree: B
May was a problem, with a 5.93 ERA, but he’s at 3.57 overall. The righty with the big hair has posted a great K-to-BB: 44-to-7. Lefties still give him problems, slashing .361/.410/.528 against him in 39 plate appearances.
Robby Scott: C+
The lefty, who’s still a wonderful story, had a 1.56 ERA through his first 29 appearances of the season. It’s been a rough go since, with seven earned runs allowed (and three home runs surrendered) in 4 2/3 innings and seven appearances since. Righties are slashing .279/.354/.535, with lefties hitting just .114. A 5.60 FIP, tied to his high walk rate, knocks him out of the B-range.
Fernando Abad: B-
At this point, he’s a lefty specialist — or should be. They’re hitting .194 off him. But he’s had more work against righties, and that hasn’t gone as well, to the tune of a .258 average and a much lower strikeout rate. Still, he can go two or even three innings and is an underrated piece (when used right).