Feast or famine doesn't begin to describe the Red Sox of the last two days, who followed a 20-run outburst on Wednesday with a two-hit whimper in Thursday's 8-1 loss to the Rays.
Beyond that one notable exception, feasts have been hard to come by recently, but there's been no shortage of famine. For a team that spent most of the first half in first place, the Red Sox feature no shortage of players delivering little to the cause.
Two of them -- left-hander Martin Perez and right-hander Garrett Richards -- were recently punted to the bullpen, but that's only a start. Here are five other players who should see as little action as possible the rest of the way, if they're even on the team at all.
It's fair to say we've seen enough, and the sooner they're benched, replaced, released, or demoted, the better.
1. Marwin Gonzalez
Intangibles only count for so much. A proven winner with the Astros, Gonzalez signed late in the offseason with the promise of bringing leadership and accountability to the clubhouse, as well as versatility and production to the field.
He could be an inspirational combination of Knute Rockne and Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf and it wouldn't matter at this point, because he simply hasn't delivered where it matters most.
He went 0 for 3 on Thursday to drop his average to .202 and his OPS to .567, and frankly, both of those numbers sound high.
He hasn't been able to turn around a fastball all season, and on a team desperate for left-handed hitting, his .173 average from that side ranks among the worst in baseball.
A favorite of manager Alex Cora, Gonzalez long ago passed the point of potential productivity. He is what he is, which is basically an automatic out. It's time for someone else.
2. Bobby Dalbec
This spot could easily go to Franchy Cordero (spoiler alert: he's next), but Cordero is a bit player. Dalbec has been entrusted with everyday at-bats, and it sure looks like the Red Sox whiffed in their evaluation of the right-handed slugger.
They envisioned him trading high strikeout totals for big power numbers. Instead, he has struggled to put bat to ball, striking out 119 times in 320 plate appearances while managing just 11 homers. Cora said before the season that the Red Sox couldn't afford for Dalbec to strike out 40 percent of the time, but it's not like Dalbec's current rate of 37.2 percent qualifies as an acceptable alternative.
He might be worth hanging on to, since he just turned 26 and showed enough promise last year to merit an offseason of tinkering. But for right now, he's a drag on the entire offense. Add the fact that he has played some of the worst first base defense, statistically, in the American League, and sending him to the bench or Worcester is long overdue.
3. Franchy Cordero
He's an easy punching bag, and he deserves credit for learning a new position on the fly, but Cordero is basically what would've happened if Andrew Benintendi hadn't gotten hurt last year and had instead played all 60 games.
The Red Sox sent Benintendi to Kansas City for a package headlined by Cordero (he was one of the only players in the deal not to be named later, in fairness), and the new left fielder played a lot like the deposed one.
He struck out all three times he hit on Thursday, dropping his average to .190 and his OPS to .501. Outside of a tape measure 474-foot home run in Philadelphia, he has contributed precious little, taking fastballs for strikes and flailing at offspeed pitches off the plate.
Since returning to Boston out of necessity in late July, he's hitting .226 with zero extra-base hits. He has misplayed two pop-ups at first base just this week. If there's one specific complaint about management's performance at the trade deadline, it's that Chaim Bloom and Co. couldn't find a single immediate upgrade for Cordero, Dalbec, or Gonzalez.
4. Hansel Robles
Speaking of the trade deadline, watching Robles struggle to throw strikes is painful, but watching him try to incite a brawl vs. the Blue Jays in his first week was enraging, evoking similarly pugilistic reliever Alfredo Aceves . . . which is not a compliment.
Robles hit Randal Grichuk, drawings warnings for both sides, and then proceeded to jaw with the Blue Jays dugout while Cora sprinted to the mound to head him off and his teammates milled about, decidedly disinterested in rushing to his aid.
He then allowed a two-run rocket into the corner by George Springer while the Blue Jays basically laughed at him. It qualifies as one of the lowest points of the season.
With Ryan Brasier and Matt Andriese nearing a return and Perez and Richards moved to the pen, perhaps Robles' stay will be short. He made his first appearance in a week on Thursday and promptly balked in a run.
Enough. Next, please.
5. Austin Davis
It turns out that Bloom did Cora no favors with either of his bullpen pickups at the trade deadline. Davis arrived from the Pirates as a potential left-handed specialist, a role that's less useful because of the three-batter minimum.
He has allowed at least two baserunners in four of his five appearances, all losses. He surrendered two runs on Thursday while retiring just one batter, ballooning his ERA to 6.28.
Whatever the Red Sox saw that made him worth a flyer (like his 96 mph fastball), it's probably best honed either in the minors or over the winter, because there's little point in keeping him on the roster as a mop-up man who has underwhelmed in place of fellow lefty Darwinzon Hernandez.
It's bad enough that the Red Sox finished July 30 with precious few upgrades. It's even worse that two of the three players they did acquire are Robles and Davis, who have lit fires instead of extinguishing them.