Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

Monday, August 01, 2011

Red Sox Roll Dice With Erik Bedard & Hope for the Best



The Red Sox' motivation in trading for Erik Bedard yesterday is glaringly obvious; the organization surely knew the prognosis for Clay Buchholz was not good.

Additionally, John Lackey has a 6.20 ERA, Andrew Miller has a 5.36 ERA and Tim Wakefield has a 5.06 ERA. With three-fifths of the starting rotation possessing ERAs north of 5.00, management was prompted to action.

So, the Sox rolled the dice and traded for an injury-plagued 32-year-old lefty who spent four full seasons (2004-'07) pitching for the Baltimore Orioles in the highly competitive AL East.

The upside for the Red Sox is that Bedard is AL East battle-tested. However, he has never appeared in the post-season.

Pitching for an absolutely horrible Seattle team this year, Bedard was 4-7 with a 3.45 ERA. The latter is the more important statistic here.

Bedard is a control pitcher who throws between 93-95 miles per hour with a good curveball. This season, he has rung up 87 strikeouts and walked just 30 batters in 91 1/3 innings. That's a nearly 3-to-1 strikeout ratio.

Though Bedard has made 16 starts this year, he missed all of last season with an injury to his pitching shoulder. And that's the worry; even before missing all of 2010, Bedard had made just 15 starts in both 2008 and 2009.

However, the Canadian has a 2.35 ERA in his last 12 starts dating to April 27, which ranks fourth among American League pitchers with at least 70 innings during that span.

That kind of performance is no fluke; since 2006, Bedard leads all AL pitchers with a .231 opponents’ batting average and 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings.

And among major leaguers who have thrown at least 500 innings since the start of the 2006 season, Bedard ranks 15th in ERA with a 3.41 mark, slightly ahead of Matt Cain (3.43), Dan Haren (3.44) and Zack Greinke (3.45), and just behind Cole Hamels (3.40).

These statistics provide a sense of the pitcher the Red Sox just traded for, or at least the kind of potential he possesses.

Yet, the enduring question that has plagued Bedard over the past four years is whether he can remain healthy. In fact, the lefty has made just 107 starts over the past six seasons, while a healthy starter might have been expected to make 170-180.

If you're an optimist, you can take solace in the fact that Bedard's latest DL stint was the result of a left knee sprain.

So far this season, the veteran hurler's arm appears healthy. Guys with bum shoulders don't typically throw 93-95 miles per hour.

The Red Sox knew this. They read all the reports in Bedard's medical history and scouted him consistently since spring training. Obviously, management felt confident enough to consummate the deal.

But, given Buchholz's status, their backs were clearly against the wall.

Right now, the Red Sox have just two reliable starters — Josh Beckett and Jon Lester. As good as that duo is, they can't win the Pennant on their own.

So the Sox will hope for the best from John Lackey and their newly acquired lefty. If the two pitch up to their full potential, the Red Sox may be unstoppable in their quest for another World Series title.

If they don't, we may all remember this as yet another season lost.

1 comment:

Jim Duggan said...

Great summation as always. The stats were of great interest and I have a far better feeling about this acquisition than I did yesterday. Thanks for a great article, Sean!

-Jim Duggan