The AL-East leading Red Sox, the winners of their first three series of the season for the first time since 1952, dropped the series finale against the Washington Nationals Wednesday, 5-10.
With all the usual caveats that it’s early in the season, pitching remains the top concern for this 2015 club.
Red Sox offense is solid, averaging 6.2 runs per game, the 2nd-most in the majors behind the Royals’ 6.6 mark. Boston’s team batting average is .253, 5th-best mark in the American League.
But unlike the Royals, who have allowed just 2.6 runs per game (2nd-best in the majors), Boston opponents are avergaging 5.6 runs per game, the 2nd-worst mark in baseball. The only MLB pitching staff that’s allowed more opponent runs per game are the moribund Minnesota Twins (5.8).
Wide Miley, in his first-ever appearance at Fenway suffered the 3rd-shortest start of his career (108 games) lasting just 2.1 innings Wednesday and giving up 7 earned runs in the process. The off day on Thursday is lucky for the Boston bullpen, which pressed Anthony Varvaro, Robbie Ross, and Craig Breslow into service.
In 3 of their last 4, Red Sox starters have not gotten to the 5th inning. Worse, starters’ ERA is a whopping 6.16, the 2nd-worst mark in baseball behind the Mariners (6.43). Boston’s bullpen ERA, meanwhile, is 2.97.
Defensively, the Red Sox have 8 errors on the season, tied for the 4th-most in baseball. Their fielding percentage is .978, below the league average of .984.
It may seem odd to complain when your club is 6-3 and in first place, but we know that it’s a long season ahead. Without improvements in pitching the Red Sox will need continued great offense, fewer errors, and what can be that most elusive of characteristics—health to stay in contention.