Red Sox

First impressions of the Red Sox’ 9-1 win over the Indians

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First impressions of the Red Sox’ 9-1 win over the Indians

BOSTON -- First impressions of the Boston Red Sox’ 9-1 win over the Cleveland Indians:

Joe Kelly maximized on his time in the minors -- and it’s showing.

Who would’ve thought that Joe Kelly would throw 6.2 innings of no-hit ball in his first outing back? Was he perfect? No. But that could show more value for Boston given their starting pitcher situation.

And as much as it would’ve been nice to see Kelly complete perfection there’s a lot of value to be found in his three-walk, scoreless fifth frame. In an inning where he was off and put himself in a jam, he found his way out, getting the second and third outs with runners in scoring position. With a staff that’s been plagued by having one bad inning, it’s promising to see Kelly avoid any damage when he could’ve easily given up.

The Red Sox need better protection for Jackie Bradley, Jr.

The streak almost died at 25 games, in large part because Trevor Bauer wanted no piece of JBJ. It didn’t help that runners were on base and Ryan Hanigan isn’t exactly a major offensive threat. But thanks to perfect placement -- on both the hit and throw to first -- JBJ extended the streak to 26 games. But if Bauer is a representation of what’s to come, Bradley’s going to find fewer opportunities to extend his lengthy streak. So putting Blake Swihart or Chris Young behind Bradley, instead of Hanigan or Christian Vazquez, could give opposing pitchers more of a reason to pitch to him.

Clay Buchholz just went on notice.

As if he hadn’t already put himself in enough of a hole, Kelly’s performance put the struggling right-hander in a much worse position than he already was. That is good for Boston because he either shapes up or doesn’t throw (or gets dealt) once Eduardo Rodriguez makes his return.

The bullpen can survive without Carson Smith.

As much as a fourth arm would be nice, mainly because Koji Uehara isn’t getting any younger, the Red Sox can be successful with him, Junichi Tazawa and Craig Kimbrel for the rest of the year. They’ll need longer starts from the staff on occasion, much like Kelly’s, but there’s no reason to rush Smith back to the bullpen. Of course, nine runs in support never hurts either.

Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter @ngfriar.

10 things I hate about the Red Sox through 10 games

10 things I hate about the Red Sox through 10 games

The Red Sox wanted to restore a bit of joy to our lives, but it looks like we'll have to settle for being mad about something other than the state of the world, which is its own form of escapism, I suppose.

Better than nothing.

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Anyway, 10 games into the season, they haven't given us much to cheer, but they've provided plenty of reason to grimace.

From a mix of bad starting pitching to being forced to use openers, from seeing the team's vaunted offense not deliver out of the starting gates to the continuing slog of marathon games, there's no shortage of issues that the Sox are dealing with a sixth of the way through their schedule.

Here are 10 of the worst aspects of the Red Sox season through 10 games.

How two missing setup men have created a cascade of woe for Red Sox

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USA TODAY Sports photos

How two missing setup men have created a cascade of woe for Red Sox

For two rookies who weren't on anyone's radar until about this time last year, Darwinzon Hernandez and Josh Taylor have turned out to be massive losses for the Red Sox.

The two young power left-handers stabilized the bullpen over the final two months of 2019, with Hernandez striking out batters at a record rate and Taylor emerging as an every-other-day workhorse.

Hernandez struck out a staggering 57 in just 30.1 innings (16.9 K/9), with a 4.45 ERA. In 23 appearances from July 16 through Sept. 6, he posted a 2.31 ERA. Taylor, meanwhile, was even more consistent. He delivered a 3.04 ERA in 57 appearances, and from July 2 through the finale, allowed only eight runs in 40 innings.

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Both feature 95-mph fastballs and both figured to play expanded roles in this truncated season, but when spring training 2.0 began in July, both were missing because of failed COVID tests. Taylor quarantined in his hotel near Fenway Park while battling fatigue. Hernandez remained in his native Venezuela for the first three weeks of July.

They're both now in Pawtucket, facing hitters for the first time in months. Each threw live BP over the weekend, and Taylor could be activated this week, manager Ron Roenicke said on Friday in New York.

The trickle-down effect has been significant. Roenicke has had little answer for innings two through five, relying on lesser arms like Austin Brice, Zack Godley, Matt Hall, and Jeffrey Springs either to serve as openers or bridge the gap to more established relievers like Marcus Walden, Heath Hembree, Matt Barnes, and closer Brandon Workman.

As a result, on the days Nathan Eovaldi doesn't start, the Red Sox have finished the fifth inning trailing by an average score of 5-2.

A healthy Hernandez and Taylor could alter that dynamic in two ways. First, one of them could start and contribute as an opener. Roenicke said the Red Sox are stretching out Hernandez to throw two or three innings, which would make him a more dynamic candidate for the role than some of the flotsam the Red Sox have been forced to feature in his absence.

But even if both remained relievers, they'd either be available to throw in the early innings instead of Springs (33.75 ERA) or Hall (15.43 ERA), or they could bump someone like Walden or Hembree down there. Ten games into the season, too many games have already been lost before Roenicke could even warm his better relievers.

With the lack of legitimate starting pitchers forcing Roenicke to finesse his way through four out of every five games, the Red Sox can ill afford to enter battle without their full complement of weapons. Who knew that two guys we had barely heard of early last season would end up being such pivotal missing pieces?