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Red Sox Report Card - May 2019

June 4, 2019
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All in all, not a terrible month. Not a great month, but not a terrible month.

The Red Sox went 16-11 in the month of May, fighting their way back to the right side of .500. However, that’s not nearly enough in the grand scheme of things – they aren’t in fourth place anymore, having climbed up to third, but it’s a distant third … and it’s getting more distant by the day.

It’s not the fault of the Red Sox on the field, necessarily – we saw a fair amount of strong performances out of the team over the course of the month – but five games over .500 isn’t going to cut it when you have a Yankees team hitting its stride (and due to return some injured talent) and a Rays team that is proving surprisingly resilient.

Still, it beats the hell out of the trash fire that was April. And the team is still very much in playoff contention. Here’s hoping that Boston can make the same kind of leap in June that it did in May; we’ll really have something then.

On to the Report Card.

-

Hitting – A

This month saw a pretty remarkable turnaround for the Red Sox offense. The team had definitely scuffled in the season’s first month, so it was great to see them vault toward the top of the offensive leaderboard for May. They were second in the league in a number of vital categories – runs scored (170), hits (273), home runs (51) and batting average (.279) – landing just behind Minnesota in each case. They also led the league in OBP (.360) and sat third in slugging (.491). Leading the way was Rafael Devers, who found the power stroke he had been missing in April - .351/.380/.640 with eight homers, 24 RBI and 25 runs scored. Catcher Christian Vazquez was surprisingly hot – he batted .373 with an OPS over .950 – while Xander Bogaerts has stepped it up. Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez have been a little better than OK, but still not quite what we hope for. Rookie Michael Chavis looks good. But really, no one (aside from Steve Pearce) had a bad May at the plate.

Starting Pitching – B+

You could have talked me into an A- here without too much difficulty; the truth is that the grade is largely being pulled down by a couple of less than stellar performances. We’ll start with the good – Chris Sale, despite getting the win in just one of his six starts, has been downright dominant. His peripherals – a 2.82 ERA, 66 strikeouts and a 0.83 WHIP in 38 innings – are outstanding. David Price crushed his four starts as well, to the tune of a 1.53 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP in four starts. Rick Porcello was not quite as good, though his numbers hold up. Eduardo Rodriguez benefited from some luck; his peripherals were less impressive. These four aren’t really the problem, though – it’s everybody else who has been getting lit up. Lots of hits and lots of walks equal lots of runs. Still, having the quartet at the top performing this well is a welcome sight – it’s an even more impressive rebound than the one pulled off by the offense.

Bullpen – B-

Honestly, I’m not really sure what the right call is here. The Boston bullpen has been wildly inconsistent over the course of the month. A handful of guys have been really good … and another handful has been pretty bad. Heath Hembree has been as good this month, giving up just a single run and striking out 16 in 11 innings over 12 appearances, as he was bad last month. Matt Barnes has an ERA under two in 10 appearances and has struck out just shy of two batters an inning. Brandon Workman and Marcus Walden have both been great as well, giving up just seven runs total and striking out 34 in 30 combined innings. On the other hand, you have guys like Corey Brewer, Ryan Brasier and Tyler Thornburg getting lit up; Brasier was the worst of the bunch – a 7.20 ERA to go with six walks and three homers allowed in just 10 innings pitched. So the good outweighs the bad here – hence the grade – but it isn’t by much.

Defense – B+

Boston has improved its lot on defense as well. A big part of that improvement comes courtesy of Devers, who settled down considerably at the hot corner. He’s still not a great third baseman, but he’s not nearly as bad as he was. Bogaerts has occasional mental hiccups but is otherwise solid at shortstop. Chavis continues to figure it out at second. Mitch Moreland is his usual steady self at first. The outfield defense – Betts, Bradley Jr. and Benintendi – remains one of the best in the American League; the month of May didn’t change that. And Vasquez is turning out to be a solid receiver and is throwing out nearly half of the guys who attempt to steal on him. Not too shabby.

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