Every season, Baseball Prospectus Editor-in-Chief Sam Miller details what it’s like to watch the worst game of the year. Sunday’s drubbing at the hand of the Orioles should make his shortlist.
Top Play by WPA: You know how you know you’ve had a bad game? When the top eight plays by WPA all go to your opposition. No. 1 on the day at .078 came in the bottom of the third when Wade Miley walked Adam Jones with the bases loaded and one out. That was just part of a mega-implosion that rendered Miley completely ineffective at the flip of a switch, which is the second time we’ve seen this happen to Miley in four starts.
Some of the next-best (or worst, for us) plays by WPA: Delmon Young reaching second base on an error by Mookie Betts (.067) in the second, Chris Davis driving in two with a bases-loaded double (.062) in the third and Young’s RBI single (.056) in the third.
Bottom Play by WPA: Can I just settle on all of them? Technically this honor falls on Hanley Ramirez flying out with two on (-.050) in the top of of the third, but that’s unfair because a) Hanley had a two-homer game and b) every Red Sox pitcher was the worst ever on Sunday. Except for Edward Mujica, of all people.
Key Moment: Shut up about it already. I’d argue Miley completely falling apart was one long, painful key moment. If we need to pick one play, it’s probably Davis’ double. Or Young’s single in the fourth. Or any of Jimmy Paredes’ 4353 hits. Maybe you prefer the symbolism that came with Mookie dropping a routine pop-up that hit his glove. Seriously, there’s no way to pick just one bad moment here.
Trend to Watch: It’s too early in the season to make any conclusions about the Red Sox’s rotation, but through the first 19 games, the “sky is falling” crowd is winning. This is an uninspiring bunch right now, with Miley yet to have thrown one quality starter, Clay Buchholz and Joe Kelly doing their best Jekyll and Hide routines and Rick Porcello and Justin Masterson both failing to inspire.
We could also look to the bullpen, which has been getting shellacked lately. It’s tough to trust anyone other than Junichi Tazawa and Craig Breslow right now, and it’s starting to feel like Matt Barnes is going to see plenty of high-leverage work this year.
Then there’s Mr. Betts, who’s hit .174 with a .250 OBP since Opening Day (h/t @RedSoxStats). The long-term future is still glaringly bright, but it might be time to move him out of the leadoff spot.
Coming Next: It’s not getting any easier for the Sox’s pitching staff, which now has to play host to the high-powered Blue Jays offense for three games at Fenway Park. Welcome to life in the AL East. Boston’s been using Shane Victorino’s DL stint to essentially roster an extra reliever, but the rotation needs to take some pressure off the bullpen at some point. The good news is Kelly and Buchholz are the Red Sox’s highest-upside starters, and either is fully capable of shutting down even a good Jays lineup. The bad news is both starters are equally capable of imploding, and the Sox can’t afford another string of totally terrible starts.
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