The Red Sox continue to spiral downward. After losing seven of their last nine games, questions are starting to be raised about whether or not this team is a true contender. The team continues to lose close games to teams that aren’t even in the mix for the playoff race. In the past nine games alone, the Red Sox have lost six games by two runs or less. They struggle to put up runs when they get a good pitching performance. They struggle to pitch well when they put up runs. This has been a losing formula that has moved the team from first place to third in less than a week.
Entering Sunday’s game against the Angels, the Red Sox had outscored opponents 53-48 in their last ten games. You would think a run differential of +5 would get you a .500 record or better. Instead, the Red Sox went 3-7 during this stretch. There have been games where the team lacked clutch hitting, games where the manager has mismanaged the pitching staff, and games where the team’s defense has been a liability.
Granted, every team goes through tough stretches during a 162 game season. However, the Red Sox were in first place entering series with the Twins, Tigers, and Angels. After sweeping the Giants, the expectation was that this was a huge opportunity to create some distance between themselves, the Orioles, and the Blue Jays. Instead, it went the other way. Now the Sox are on the brink of being on the outside looking in for the Wild Card Race as well.
So, what can be done to turn things around? After all, this team does have the best offense in baseball and has a very solid starting rotation. They have seven All Stars on their team and that list doesn’t even include Dustin Pedroia, Rick Porcello, and David Price. The team is loaded with talent and should be a playoff team. This issue is that they struggle to win close games. Why? Well, there’s a combination of reasons. The timely hitting has been non-existent recently. Their leaving too many runners on base in key situations. That is likely fixable when you have a lineup as loaded as this one. But, there’s a bigger issue…
John Farrell continues to struggle with in-game management decisions. This has been the knock against Farrell throughout his career and it’s been evident again this year. Let’s face it, folks. 2013 was the outlier for John Farrell. In four of his five seasons as a MLB manager, he has finished in fourth place or lower in the American League East. This season, his team which is very talented is in third. John Farrell, historically, has been a losing manager. That’s the reality. You can look at multiple games in the past week in which his decisions cost the Red Sox wins. He left both Steven Wright and Robbie Ross in too long on Tuesday night. He didn’t allow David Price to pitch in the ninth on Thursday night after he was cruising through 109 pitches. This guy is getting paid $31 million a year and his pitch limit is 109?
The trade deadline is hours away. The Red Sox would likely have to give up a lot of you talent to make a big improvement with their team’s roster. One way to improve it without giving up anything would be to have a manager who hasn’t finished in fourth or fifth place in four of his five seasons as their leader. If they don’t, they may be looking at making it five of six.