At this point, though it's still early in this campaign, the Red Sox pitching appears to have been vastly overrated at the start of the season. They have two very good starters (Schilling and Beckett), two mediocre starters (Wakefield and Clement), and no fifth starter. Perhaps that role will be fulfilled by Lenny DiNardo, or Mike Ginter, or Abe Alvarez. Your guess is as good as anyone's. Who needs Bronson Arroyo anyway?
This team lacks pitching depth and offense - not a good combo. On two separate occasions Friday night, the Sox left the bases loaded and failed to score. Continuing a disturbing trend this season, the Red Sox left 14 men on base and were 2-for-19 with runners in scoring position. The club has the regrettable distinction of leading the AL with over 200 men left on base this season.
Over the last 12 games the team is hitting .245, and is now 10th in the American League with a .258 overall average.
The Sox were outscored 27-6 in their three straight losses and have now dropped six of their last eight games. They may not be as good as last year's team, which wasn't good enough when it counted -- in the playoffs.
Over the course of 6 innings, Matt Clement surrendered 5 runs (4 earned) on five hits, gave up six walks, and struck out four.
Most of the damage was done early and Clement rallied to allow just one hit -- a single to Toby Hall in the fifth -- over his final two innings.
But Clement is now 2-2 with 6.14 ERA, and batters are hitting .308 against him.
In his five starts, Clement has yielded 15 walks and 37 hits, resulting in 20 earned runs. So far, he's given up more hits, runs and walks than any other Red Sox pitcher. His walks and hits per inning (WHIP) is 1.77 -- 50th in the AL.
Manager Terry Francona claimed Clement's poor performance was the result of "scuffling with his asthma."
He'd better get an inhaler.
The signs aren't good. Clement has never been a great pitcher and the Red Sox overpaid him with the three-year, $26 million contract they gave him last year. He'd never done anything to warrant such a deal, and he is continuing to live up to his average ability.
The Sox have no legitimate number three starter. Clement and Wakefield are interchangeable at four and five. But again, there is no reliable fifth starter at the moment, so they are both pitching out of order and in roles that don't suit them well. Unless Ginter or Alvarez is a hidden gem, providing an unexpected solution, the Sox better hope that Roger Clemens decides to make a return engagement in Boston. Right now, they can use all the help they can get.
Copyright © 2006 Sean M. Kennedy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author's consent.