EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 29, 2013

Baseball writers missing boat on Sox

Pitching has been outstanding in Florida

A Fan's Perspective
Ed Warnshuis

---- — I don’t know if Boston’s baseball writing fraternity is woefully uninformed about what has happened this spring — of if the hot Florida weather has taken a toll on their collective brains.

But one thing is for sure. The Sox writers have missed something big things spring.

The Red Sox pitching rotation, from Day 1 of spring training, has ranged from very good to superb.

Through Wednesday, the Red Sox lead the American League East in almost every pitching category. Sure, it’s just spring training. But we’ve learned over the last few years that success — or failure — in Florida can carry into the regular season.

Consider the following breakdown of AL East starting pitchers from this spring:

Team Innings pitched by starting 5 ERA for starting 5

Rays 100 2.86

Red Sox 87 3.64

Jays 79 3.64

Yanks 78 4.18

O’s 74 4.88

There are major red flags for two teams that have been built on pitching, the Orioles and the Rays. Their top innings guys, Jacob Arrieta for the O’s and J.A. Happ for the Jays, spent their offseason rehabbing injuries. Yanks ace CC Sabathia has thrown just 10 innings because of elbow issues, and the Jays ace, R. A. Dickey has thrown only five innings after struggling for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.

In contrast, all five Red Sox starters have gone at least five innings in their last two starts. Jon Lester went six perfect innings on March 17 and Clay Buchholz has only given up two runs all spring. Ryan Dempster is a strike-throwing machine, John Lackey got 12 ground ball outs in five innings against a loaded Phillies line-up, and Felix Dubront is averaging over a strikeout-per-inning.

In other words, the April Fools joke may end up being on the A.L. East.

Yes, this team has, and will continue to have, a very hard time scoring runs. But, if your starters are giving you a strong six or seven innings every time out, and the back end of the bullpen remains as solid as it appears on paper, you don’t need to score very many runs to win.

I grew up in Los Angeles watching the Dodgers win tight, one-run ball games all summer. It’s hard to believe this could happen at Fenway Park, but with these five guys and manager John Farrell at the helm, it just may.

As a bonus, faster games could be on the way. Farrell has a stopwatch in the bullpen. When the bases are empty, his pitchers have 20 seconds to throw the ball.

I’m exciting. You should be too if you’re a Red Sox fan.

I wonder if the Knights of the Keyboard should do a little more homework rather than rely on the past.

Ed Warnshuis has B.S. from Emerson College (’65), worked for 30 years in sales and marketing with Agfa/Compugraphic and spent the last 13 years doing community action work in Lawrence. He founded “Stand and Deliver — Corporate Campus Mentoring,” presently working with Lawrence High principal Paul Neal on a Peer Mentoring program at Lawrence High. He has been married 47 years to his wife Joan. They have two daughters and three grand children.

Editor's note: Periodically, throughout the season, will run columns by readers on the Red Sox in 2013. If you have an idea or column, send it to Eagle-Tribune sports editor Bill Burt at bburt@eagletribune.com.