On Saturday, Bronson Arroyo matched a season high by allowing seven runs over 5 1/3 innings, which included a Dmitri Young grand slam on a weak fastball. In the fourth inning alone, Arroyo surrendered five runs on five hits, making it the 17th time this season a Sox opponent has scored five or more runs in an inning. It was both sad and disconcerting to watch Arroyo blow a six run lead.
The 28-year-old righty is now 10-9. Amazing. Pitching for the highest run producing team in the majors, he's still just one game above .500. But his career record is worse. At 29-32, he's three games below the even mark. At present, his record is the same as it was at the end of last season. So he'll likely end up with more wins, but he'll also end up with more losses. His ERA now stands at 4.44, and the Red Sox have to face up to the fact that Arroyo is, and will always be, nothing more than an average pitcher. He is, at best, a number four starter and maybe even a number five. Arroyo is in the prime of his career, and this is likely as good as it gets.
But he not alone. No Sox starter will win 20 games this year. Tim Wakefield leads the staff with 13 wins backed by 10 losses and a 4.35 ERA. Matt Clement, who the team saw as a solid number two starter, is 11-3 and will likely top out at fifteen wins this year - at best. His 4.35 ERA puts him in tie with Wakefield for the team lead. Very telling. David Wells is 11-6 with a 4.44 ERA. Before going on the DL, Wade Miller struggled with his shoulder - and his command - on his way to a 4-4 record and a 4.95 ERA. And Curt Schilling looks like a shadow of his former self. He appears to still be injured, or aged - or both. The man the club was counting on to be their ace sports an uninspiring 6.89 ERA, and a losing 5-6 record.
The Red Sox are on pace for another 90 plus wins this season - 93 to be exact - and not one member of their staff will compile 20 wins. Simply put, they have no ace. Including Schilling and minus Miller, the starters have a combined 4.89 ERA. Substitute Miller for Schilling, because he was injured or in the pen most of the year, and the ERA falls to 4.51. Big deal. That's not a championship caliber staff. If the offense fails to produce at least 4 1/2 runs in a given game, the team generally loses. There is no balance to their attack.
Sox pitching has been getting lit up as of late. As of Saturday evening, the staff had surrendered 27 runs in their previous 26 innings. The bullpen continues to be a mess with a composite 5.45 ERA - the second worst in baseball. The relievers are lucky if they don't have to come in before the sixth inning. Sox starters often don't last very long. The team wins games by out-pounding the competition. That's all well and good until they meet top flight playoff pitching. If the old axiom holds true - that pitching wins championships - then this team is trouble. This may be as good as it gets.
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