Here are three quick hits for Thursday (quick for me anyway):
- The starters need to start pitching deeper into games. Through 14 games, Sox starters have pitched exactly 5 innings 8 times (actually 7, in John Lackey's start he threw 4 1/3 but I'm going to count that). Eventually this is going to place a tremendous strain on the bullpen, even though it goes about 10 deep. The Red Sox rank an excellent second in starter's runs allowed per game at just 2.79 (behind Atlanta who is only allowing 1.93 runs per game!). They rank a respectable 16th in innings per start with 5.9 (basically because they have 0 disaster starts where the starter goes something like 2 innings and gives up 8 runs, like they did about 162 times last year in Boston). But where you see their struggle is in quality start percentage. A quality start is when a pitcher pitches at least 6 innings and gives up 3 earned runs or less. A quality start (QS) is not a great stat because a line of 6 innings and 3 runs is not exactly high quality. We could also get into the fact that the word "quality" does not measure anything (see this article by Joe Posnanski for a deeper discussion on quality starts), but this is supposed to be a quick hit. But to show that the Sox are not pitching deep enough, this works well. Through 14 games they have a QS% of 43% of games pitched, which ranks 25th in the Major Leagues. Aside from Buchholz, who has 3 QS, the starters are wasting too many pitches to get through lineups and they are forcing their way out of games. The team leads the league in strikeouts per nine innings, but if it wants to make it through the season with a healthy bullpen it is going to have to look to get some more efficient outs.
- How about Mike Carp ya'll? Three for three with two doubles and a triple. When I saw he was starting last night I was not too excited, even with Jonny Gomes slumping. Carp bats left handed, but historically has done better against lefties, which is not what you would expect. Justin Masterson has an extreme platoon split (about .200 points in OPS worse against lefties) so the move made some sense, but given how bad Carp was in Spring Training and his opposite splits I didn't think much would come of it. I think at some point this year I will stop questioning John Ferrell because about 9 out of 10 moves he makes are right so far. Unfortunately I have some deep scars from Leatherface that may never properly heal even if Ferrell becomes my metaphorical Mederma.
- Speaking of Masterson, most of you remember that he used to play for Boston and was the main piece in the Victor Martinez trade waaaay back in 2009, back when people actually liked baseball in Boston. Some people may look at how well Masterson pitched in 2011 and how well he has started off this season and the fact that Martinez is plying his trade in Detroit now and determine that the Sox did poorly in this trade. This would overlook two key facts. The first is that Martinez had a very good season and a half in Boston, equaling the output Masterson had in 2011. The second is that when Victor signed in Detroit, the Sox received 2 compensation draft picks in the 2011 draft. Those picks? Matt Barnes and Henry Owens, the consensus 1st and 3rd best pitching prospects in the Sox farm system.