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Red Sox Report Card - April 2019

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Not exactly the start that Red Sox fans were hoping for.

In a season where they were expected to be among the league’s best, Boston has instead spent the entire month of April below the .500 mark; they’re currently sitting in fourth place in the division, behind the Rays, Yankees and Blue Jays and ahead of only the lowly Orioles.

It’s not ideal to see a team stumble out of the gate like this – particularly one coming off a World Series championship season and that was projected to contend for another this year – but fans have to remain calm. It’s early yet, and there’s a lot of baseball left to be played.

That said, the baseball that HAS been played hasn’t been … good. The 2019 Red Sox have struggled for stretches in all facets of the game, though they have looked better after an utterly abysmal start to the season. We’re here to talk about what has been, not what we hope is to come.

On to the Report Card.

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Hitting – C-

This might even be a bit high for a team that sits in the bottom third of the American League in just about every relevant offensive category. The liveliest bat thus far belongs to J.D. Martinez, who leads the way in the slash categories. Mookie Betts hasn’t quite reached his MVP form of last year, but he’s hitting just fine. Rafael Devers has been OK, albeit mostly powerless, while Xander Bogaerts and Andrew Benintendi have been decent at the dish, though both have taken a step backward from their previous performance levels. And some of the other guys – Mitch Moreland, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Steve Pearce chief among them – have been pretty bad. Young call-up Michael Chavis flashed some power late in the month, so perhaps things will improve. As of now, however, this is a barely-mediocre offense and nothing more.

Starting Pitching – D+

As bad as the offense has been so far this April, the starting rotation has been worse. Some of the team’s best pitchers have put up terrible performances that rank among their worst months ever. Supposed ace Chris Sale has looked bad and pitched worse, getting rocked to the tune of an 0-5 record and a 6.30 ERA. Eduardo Rodriguez has been just as bad (6.16 ERA, albeit with a 2-2 record) and Rick Porcello has been somehow even worse than both of them (7.43 ERA, a staggering 2.13 WHIP). Nathan Eovaldi was bad before he got hurt. The sole saving grace has been the slightly-better-than-OK performance of David Price, with a 3.60 ERA and 1.07 WHIP over his five starts. This was supposed to be a strength for the team – and they’re talented enough to turn it around – but as things stand, they look pretty bad.

Bullpen – B-

I’m probably going high here; there’s a good chance that this group looks better due to its proximity to the terrible starting rotation. And there are plenty of issues here – guys like Colten Brewer, Brian Johnson and Tyler Thornburg have looked bad, while Heath Hembree has been only slightly better. However, there’s a nice collection of pitchers who are performing well out of the gate. Ryan Brasier has taken to the closer’s role well, going six for seven in save opportunities and putting up a 1.32 ERA with nice peripherals. Brandon Workman and Matt Barnes have pitched a ton and been generally effective. Marcus Walden has been a pleasant surprise as well. And young Darwinzon Hernandez is likely on his way. It’s an uneven group, but hey – uneven is a heck of a lot better than even but terrible.

Defense – C+

The Red Sox defense has not had a great start. They sit third in the American League in errors, although to be fair, roughly a third of them are the responsibility of third baseman Rafael Devers, who continues to be a work in progress as he attempts to wrestle the hot corner into submission. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts and first baseman Mitch Moreland are solid defenders; Michael Chavis is still finding his way at second base. The outfield continues to shine as Betts, Benintendi and Bradley Jr. continue to do their thing. They’re probably still the best defensive outfield in the league, though the unit may have taken a half-step back to the pack. This is a tough grade – pull Devers out of the equation and they’re probably a B.

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