Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It Just Doesn't Feel That Way

Did you know that the Red Sox have won seven out of their last nine? As much as it feels like the opposite, that is actually true. The two losses, because they're blowouts against the Yankees, are probably the most memorable of the last nine games. And the fact that before said nine games, the team got swept by the Orioles probably also doesn't help. But this team is playing fairly well against bad teams like the Blue Jays and the Angels, who look like they've never played baseball before. Some commentary about the pitching:

1. Jonathan Papelbon, given the theory that this team is going to be in a lot of one-run games, is possibly the most important player on this team this year. And the developments regarding this player have been possibly the best news the Red Sox have provided this year. He's not only 9-for-9 in saves, but he's recording these saves cleanly. A lot more velocity on the fastball. Uses more than one pitch--we even saw a slider the other day! He's also only walked one in his last seven outings. The Papelbon we've seen on this 7-for-9 streak is probably the best Papelbon we've seen for at least two years. Also worth at least mentioning that the two guys in front of him have also been good. As far as the bullpen goes, lately it's just been the scrubs (Schoeneweis, Delcarmen) pitching poorly. And that is to be expected.

2. Jon Lester realized on April 28th that spring training was over. In his last three starts, he has allowed three earned runs, two of which were on bombs during his erratic fourth inning on Sunday. I think it was Pat who said that Lester was the stopper on Sunday, and looking at the way Beckett and Lackey have been throwing, he's probably the only guy on this staff who can be trusted as the stopper. In that fourth inning, he gave up two bombs but also struck out the side otherwise. But his command has been exceptional and he's the only really reliable guy in this rotation right now.

3. Daisuke Matsuzaka. It is probably a coincidence that all the Scott Boras guys on this team are the most enigmatic players on the team. Number Two, Beltre, Nancy, Varitek, and Matsuzaka all have their strange stories. But Matsuzaka--where the F did THAT come from last night? The sarcastic answer--and possibly the right answer--is probably "Toronto," but no matter how bad the Blue Jays are, the way he located the ball last night would have resulted in zero walks against any team. Pinpoint accuracy, best fastball of the year, and an okay mix of pitches. The only thing that bums me out about the best performance he's turned in since his rookie year is the fact that the sycophants on sports radio (with the exception of Felger of course) will use this as leverage on their "VINATEIRI SHOULD PLAY EVRYDAY!!1" crusade. And yes, that is a Tom Menino Varitek/Vinatieri reference.

4. John Lackey. At least he's not Dana Eveland.

5. Josh Beckett. I haven't seen an implosion like that since...well, the Cleveland Cavaliers last night or the Boston Bruins the night before. I texted Pat in the second inning that Beckett was going to end up on the DL after this start, because the Blister Curveball was in action. There's no word about Beckett's problematic right middle finger, but he's apparently going to miss his next start with a sore back. They say it's because he hurt it doing batting practice. But who knows. Maybe it really is a back. Maybe it's a blister, avulsion, cut, or whatever the team wants to call it. Or maybe he's got Troy Percival Syndrome (you suck so bad that you're going on the DL). Because Friday night didn't seem like a physical thing. It seemed completely mental.

I think the sixth inning Friday night is something we're going to see on NESN over and over again for a long time. But is the Swisher home run that made it all come crashing down really something out of the ordinary for Beckett? He gives up a lot of home runs, and very often recovers well after doing so. Is it because he felt the run-prevention offense can't score four runs (correct) and that freaked him out because he has to be perfect? Or is it because he had a back or a blister problem, then tried to overpower the Yankees using brute force? I feel like we're going to see the bases-loaded HBP against Jeter over and over and over again. Probably even moreso in New York.

Hopefully the run preventers will win tonight and restore some people's hopes that they are a playoff contender. Because (against Detroit, New York, Minnesota, Philadelphia, and Tampa) they very well might lose their next thirteen.

3 comments:

Patrick said...

gm did call that beckett would have some malady based on his theory that beckett can't dominate without physical consequences resulting. he said it would be a finger issue and it's a back, but he had the general idea correct.

good points on lester and papelbon. not sure what is going on with lackey.

Anonymous said...

Are we still on pace for 37 blown saves?

the gm at work said...

Pat,

As you and all of our regular readers know, I like Beckett's effort and attitude. Felger talked about this on the radio yesterday: Fans want their team's players to be un-balanced, focused only on the sport. And Beckett has that. That's why he's largely been successful.

I was also a supporter, though a cautious one, of the contract extension. The cautiousness was precisely because of what we've seen so far this year. Sometimes he's not good. And sometimes he has these physical limitations that prohibit him from being good.

Anonymous,

Statistically, no. But today's one-run game coupled with the fact that this team will continue to live and die by run prevention indicate that there will be plenty of blown save opportunities this year.

If Papelbon continues his recent tear, 37 blown saves will not happen.