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Greenwood: Red Sox implosion starts, ends with pitching staff

Alan Greenwood

Diving into the ever-deepening pool of Major League Baseball stats has never been fun for this English major. When it comes to analyzing the sea of numbers and decimal points, fear of drowning is real here.

But assessing why the Red Sox officially (i.e., mathematically) have become an also-ran with two weeks of the season remaining begs for at least a sliver of statistical evidence. And there is no need to wade into the deep end.

Their lineup has been potent, far more than enough to keep a team afloat unless the pitching, in truly analytical terms, stinks.

Quality starts are defined by a starting pitcher working six innings and allowing three or fewer earned runs. There is room for a great debate as to whether that low bar truly represents quality, but let’s save that for another day.

The Red Sox, as reported through Friday’s loss to the Rays, had 52 quality starts. As a guidepost, the soon-to-be World Series champion Houston Astros have had 85.

The Yankees have also had just 52 quality starts but have recorded 50 saves to the Red Sox’ 32.

So, the Red Sox have issues from one end of their pitching staff to the other. Not having Chris Sale be Chris Sale all season, and formally losing him to the inured reserve list since the middle of August is a large factor, but hardly the only one.

Beyond Sale and the blossoming of Eduardo Rodriguez’s promise there is no reason for the Red Sox to going into the off-season with a plan to tinker with their staff. Had Dave Dombrowski understood that last winter, they might still be playing meaningful games.

Most of the focus on personnel maintenance has been on trying to keep Mookie Betts and J.D Martinez happy and anchored to Boston. One or both may have a foot out the door already.

But unless they do an extensive rehab on their pitching staff, whatever money they spend on maintaining their powerful lineup is moot.

TIME TRAVEL: Sept. 22, 1954 – “The 1954 football season opens tonight for the Nashua High Panthers, making their initial start at Lowell Stadium against Keith Academy of Lowell as part of the Seventh Annual Merrimack Valley Football Jamboree.

“Coaches Buzz Harvey and Tony Marandos have been working frantically in getting the 1954 Purple edition in shape for the season’s opener, which opens officially Saturday night at Holman Stadium. Leominster furnishes the opposition.

“The Purple mentor this morning made his selections for the starting gridders to answer the opening whistle. Holding down the end positions are Tony Mandravelis and Ed Lehoullier … Big Burleigh Briggs, co-captain of the 1954 squad, and Jim Kopka will occupy the tackle spots and veterans George Pelletier and Ronald Betrand will run from the guard spots. In the center of the front wall is co-captain Paul Bellavance. Very much enthused about his 1954 backfield, Harvey has selected Don Bazin to start at the signal-counting role and Roland Poliquin and fleet-footed John Wardner in the halfback posts. Another excellent runner, Charlie Parker has received the nod to open at fullback.”

AND FINALLY: The Antonio Brown Saga went dark Friday when the Patriots released the high-octane headache they never should have signed. With the usual gracelessness in which he fields questions from reporters, Bill Belichick walked out of his Friday press conference after deflecting one too many questions on the shameless receiver.

In an opening statement Belichick did declare that he was done talking about Brown and called on the assembled media to offer him only questions related to on-field football. Of course, there is no need to ask or answers about the dumpster that is the 2019 New York Jets.

So, after about three minutes of refusing questions, Belichick left the room. This was a few hours before the Pats put New England out of its misery and jettisoned Brown.

It’s doubtful that Belichick will publicly make any reference to Brown’s circumstance at all. How refreshing would it be if he would acknowledge his humanity in occasionally making poor decisions?

The odds of that are even longer than the odds of Belichick offering Brown a second chance.

Alan Greenwood can be reached at 594-1248, agreenwood@nashuatelegraph.com, or @Telegraph_