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« Patient Crawford Setting Table for Dodgers | Main | Putting the First Inning First »
Wednesday
May012013

Pitching was reason for the Red Sox great April

At 18-8 (.692), the Red Sox have the best record in baseball, off to its best start since beginning the 2002 season with a 19-7 record.

Their first John Farrell managed month is certainly better than their first Bobby Valentine 11-11 managed month last year.

The last two times the Sox held MLB’s best record at the start of May were in 2004 (15-6, .714) and in 2007 (16-8, .667). If those years are not familiar to you, just ask any citizen of Red Sox Nation who will remind you that those years Terry Francona's club went on to win the World Series.

A huge reason for this early success belongs to Boston's pitching

The Sox have scored 135 runs and allowed just 97. That 38 run differential is the best in baseball. The Rangers have a +32 and the Braves are +31. For some perspectives the preseason favorite Blue Jays are at -33 and the Angels are -28.

While the Sox bats have been steadily batting the ball around the ballpark, it's the starting pitching that has excelled. The Sox starters have a 3.24 ERA, fourth best in the majors. The Cardinal starters have a spectacular 2.15 ERA, the Reds are a 2.95, the Rangers are at 3.15, and the Tigers are at 3.18. On the other hand, the Astros are at 6.08, Padres at 5.48, and the Angels at 5.32. The  Sox starters’ 15-4 record (.789) is the best in baseball.

The Rangers and Cubs starters are holding batters to a .220 average, but the Sox are close behind at .224.

The Sox starters lead the majors averaging 9.66 strikeouts per nine innings. The Twins starters are only at 4.37.

Clay Buchholz has been the ace thus far winning all five of his starts and his 1.19 ERA (five earned runs in 37.2 IP) ranks third in baseball trailing only Jake Westbrook's sick 0.98 and Matt Moore's 1.13. It's the lowest by a Red Sox through the first five starts since Roger Clemens in 1991 (0.66).

The WHIP and ERA of Red Sox starters

If you really want to see how the Sox starters stand alone, check out this chart:

Red Sox pitchers lead the majors in double-digit strikeout games

Rk Tm #Matching W L
1 BOS 16 12 4
         
2 DET 13 9 4
         
3 CIN 11 8 3
         
4 LAD 10 7 3
         
5 STL 9 6 3
         
6 TEX 8 7 1
7 SFG 8 4 4
8 PIT 8 6 2
9 ARI 8 6 2
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/1/2013.

The Bullpen

The Red Sox bullpen reputedly may be in the top three in baseball, but you wouldn't know it from their ERA which is 4.33, 22nd in baseball (Atlanta's pen has a 2.01 ERA). The bullpen has a 3-4 record and have completed 8-of-13 save opportunities. The Diamondback's pen is 8-3 but has only completed 8-of-16 save opportunities. The Rangers pen is 5-1 and 9-for-9 in saves. The Braves relievers are 6-1 and have succeeded on nine-of-10 save opportunities.

When it comes to relievers, I'm a fan of WHIP as a measuring device.

Red Sox Reliever Games/WHIP

Another critical measurement for relievers is the "tax stat," IRS, Inherited Runs Scored

  IP GR IR IS IS%
Alfredo Aceves 17.2 2 2 1 50%
Andrew Bailey 12.1 13 2 0 0%
Daniel Bard 1.0 2 0 0  
Joel Hanrahan 5.2 7 0 0  
Andrew Miller* 5.2 10 3 0 0%
Clayton Mortensen 10.2 8 0 0  
Junichi Tazawa 12.2 13 9 1 11%
Koji Uehara 10.2 12 7 2 29%
Alex Wilson 6.0 6 3 1 33%
Steven Wright 3.2 1 1 0 0%
League Average         32%
Team Total   74 27 5 19%
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2013. 

For the Red Sox, so far, so good

There are many months, and many games to go this season and it is impossible to predict who will stay healthy, who will get injured, who will get hot, or who will get cold. However, April is in the books, and this season, so far, there are no complaints from Red Sox Nation.

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