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April ended on Wednesday which means the first month of the 2014 regular season is now over for the 2013 World Series Champions Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox produced a 15-16 record through the first 31 games of the season, which is good for third place overall in the American League East Division. The Sox sit two games behind the New York Yankees for the division lead. It was an up and down month, but the question is how good or bad of a month was it for the Sox?
STARTING PITCHERS: GRADE B+
The Good: The trio of Jon Lester, John Lackey and Jake Peavy has been terrific. Lester has an unimpressive 3-4 individual record, but has the lowest ERA for all the Sox starters at 2.59. Lester just came off his best performance of the season against the Oakland Athletics where struck out 15 while going eight innings and allowed just one hit. Lackey leads the team with wins at four, (4-2 record), and has complied a solid 3.83 ERA. Lackey has started six games this season, and has been great in the four wins and not so great in the two losses. Peavy has gone under the radar, while he has pitched fantastic earning a 2.87 ERA. Peavy has been a little unlucky in his starts, as his record is only 1-1. This trio has been the backbone through the first 31 games this season, and is a big reason why the Sox are only two games behind the Yankees for the division lead.
The Bad: Felix Doubront and Clay Bucholz have been very inconsistent. Doubront has recorded a 1-3 record, while his ERA is the highest of all the Sox starters at 5.70. Doubront has shown off his talent from time-to-time, but needs to become more consistent like the second half of the 2013 season. Bucholz has not been much better, as his record is 2-2 with a 5.63 ERA. Bucholz has produced two quality starts in a row now, with his best start coming this week against the Athletics. Bucholz is giving Red Sox nation a reason to feel optimistic. Bucholz started the season with his fastball only reaching 88 miles per hour, and the past two starts his fastball has been hitting 92 or 93 MPH.
Bullpen: Grade B+
The Good: Everyone in the bullpen except Craig Breslow and Edward Mujica. The duo of Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa picked up right where they left off last year. Uehara was a perfect seven-for-seven in save opportunities, while recording an ERA of 1.54. Tazawa earned a stingy 2.25 ERA in 13 appearances. Brandon Workman (1.42 ERA) and Chris Capuano (1.20 ERA) have been earned the two lowest ERA’s for all Sox pitchers. Andrew Miller and Burke Badenhop have also done a solid job when they have been called upon.
The Bad: Mujica and Breslow have been two major disappointments for the Sox bullpen thus far. Mujica has appeared in 11 games, and had allowed 10 earned runs in 10 innings, which is good for an ERA of 9.00, (team high). Breslow, who was injured to start the year, has only appeared in six games thus far, but has not pitched nearly as effective as he did in 2013. Breslow has compiled a 6.43 ERA, which this the second highest ERA for all Sox pitchers.
Offense: Grade C
The Bad: The Sox as a team overall have scored the 11th most runs in the MLB (131), 21st in batting average (.244), fifth in on base percentage (.338) 15th in slugging percentage (.386), 16th in total hits (255) and 16th in total home runs (26). The Sox have been in the middle of the pack and just about every offensive statistic as team.
The Good: The Sox have received strong contributions from two veterans in David Ortiz and Mike Napoli, and two rookies in Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. Ortiz leads the team in homeruns (6) and is tied in RBI (17). Napoli is the one tied with Ortiz in RBI (17), first in slugging percentage (.486) second in home runs (5), second in on base percentage (.411). Bogaerts have lived to the hype offensively, as he is hitting .279 with 29 hits (third most on the team) and is third on the team in OBP (.390). Bradley Jr, who was not even going be on the 25-man roster to begin the year until the injury of Shane Victorino in the last spring training game, has now become indispensable for the team. Bradley Jr may only be hitting .225, but has been the best hitter with runners in scoring position. Bradley Jr has come up 28 times with runners in scoring position and has hit a team high .392 in those at-bats. Bradley Jr is also fourth on the team in RBI (13).
In summary, the Sox pitching have been once again the strength of their team. Everyone knows the old adage in baseball, and that is pitching wins games. If the Red Sox can keep pitching as well as they is as a whole they will be in the middle of the AL East race until October. If the Sox hitting can get out of the middle of the pack and become closer to the top, they will be atop of the AL East in October.