Justin Masterson‘s implosive outing Tuesday night appears to have been the straw that broke the camel’s back for the 2015 Boston Red Sox rotation.
The right-hander lasted just 2.1 innings against the lowly Oakland A’s, who have stumbled to a 12-21 start to the season. Masterson was roughed up to the tune of six earned runs on six hits, four of which went for extra bases and two of which cleared the fence. The Red Sox went on to lose the game by a score of 9-2, and the trend of starting pitchers accounting for an early deficit has become all too familiar to the team.
That’s now 12 starts by a Red Sox pitcher of 5+ runs allowed, tied with the Indians for the most in the majors.
— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) May 13, 2015
After the game manager John Farrell hinted that a DL stint could be in Masterson’s future, and Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe corroborated that report via Twitter this afternoon. The team is obviously hoping an injury lies at the heart of Masterson’s struggles but based on his declining velocity the last few years, there may be greater issues facing the 29-year-old. Here’s a graph charting Masterson’s average velocity over the last three seasons courtesy of FanGraphs:
But Masterson isn’t the only starter the team should be concerned about. The team rewarded Wade Miley with a three-year, $19.7 million extension after trading for him this winter and so far he has yet to justify their decision. The 28-year-old southpaw has pitched to a 5.60 ERA and the advanced stats don’t make a case for significant improvement (5.02 xFIP). Still, with the team committed to him for the next three years they will have to hope he rounds into form as a back-end starter.
On the other hand, 26-year-old Joe Kelly had also struggled mightily in his last few starts, before showing a little improvement Friday night. After trading for him at last year’s deadline, we have now seen almost a full season’s worth of what Kelly has to offer as a starter and while he has shown the ability to be an adequate back-end starter, his velocity and strikeout numbers suggest he could be a very good reliever for a team with a struggling bullpen. The team at the least needs one starter, but would stand a much better chance of reaching the playoffs if they were to add two.
Here are some options that Ben Cherington should already be considering to upgrade his pitching staff. The rankings took into account both realism and potential impact.