The Boston Red Sox are falling apart at the seams right now.
After leading the American League East for most of the summer, Boston has now lost 10 of its last 12 games.
The team is facing a five-game deficit in the division.
The Red Sox have hit a cold streak in August. pic.twitter.com/tGbcRLQZ7D
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) August 11, 2021
For Red Sox fans, it feels like the sky is falling.
Although not entirely to blame, one of the biggest areas of concern is the team’s pitching staff.
What are Boston’s three biggest issues in that department?
3. The Rotation Doesn’t Go Deep Into Games
On average, Boston’s starters last about five innings.
Inefficiency has been a major issue, and it has forced the bullpen to carry a lot of weight.
And lately, the bullpen hasn’t been up for the task.
Boston has a pretty solid bullpen on the whole (the unit ranks 11th in the Majors in ERA at 3.86), but Red Sox relievers have been charged with four losses in the team’s last six games.
That’s going to have to change.
Perhaps the addition of Garrett Richards will spark a turnaround.
He was just moved to the bullpen from the rotation, and he will likely serve as a long-innings guy.
He’s a perfect candidate to step in if a starter doesn’t last long in a given game.
2. The Rotation Lacks A Stopper
The Boston rotation is going to get some serious help later this week when Chris Sale re-joins the team.
That’s going to be huge, because without him, the Red Sox simply lack an ace.
Every team needs a stopper—a guy who stops the bleeding when things get tough.
Without Sale, the closest thing Boston has to a stopper is Nathan Eovaldi, and that’s really not going to cut it.
He has a 4.07 ERA on the year, and over this miserable 12-game stretch for the Red Sox, he has allowed 13 runs in 10 innings.
Any team without an ace is prone to long losing streaks, and that’s exactly what is happening to Boston right now.
1. After An Outstanding First Half, Matt Barnes Isn’t A Reliable Reliever Right Now
Matt Barnes deserves a lot of credit for his 2021 campaign.
He was thrust into the closing role despite having very little experience in that capacity, and he was dominant in the first half en route to an All-Star selection.
But the honeymoon phase is over.
And lately, Barnes has been borderline unserviceable.
He has taken three losses in his last four outings, and over that span, he has allowed seven runs over two innings.
That’s good for an ERA of 31.50.
All-Star closer Matt Barnes is now in line to take his third loss in four appearances. Red Sox are in the thick of it.
— Jason Mastrodonato (@JMastrodonato) August 11, 2021
One of Barnes’ biggest flaws seems to be his inability to be effective against quality teams and hitters.
Against teams with winning records, he allows an OPS of .678.
That is roughly .457 points higher than the figure he allows against teams with losing records (.221).
You’d expect there to be a gap between the two categories, but that’s a pretty substantial one.
Barnes is going to need to figure things out in a hurry, or the Red Sox are going to have to turn to someone else.