Starting Pitching Off to Elite Start

The Boston Red Sox starting pitching has kicked off the 2018 season at an elite level. They rank towards the top in the MLB in nearly every major pitching statistical category. It’s not just the superstars like Chris Sale who are killing it either. Guys like Brian Johnson and Hector Velazquez have played their parts in the strong start, making the Red Sox rotation arguably the most formidable in the league.

In 15 games, starters have recorded a quality start (at least 6 IP with no more than 3 earned runs) in 9 starts, and that number would likely be 13 without Alex Cora’s strict and (so far) seemingly very smart pitch count limit he’s imposed on the starters. To really understand the gravity of how good they’ve been, one only needs to look at the statistical leaderboards.

The Red Sox starting pitching ranks 1st in ERA (2.06), WHIP (1.04), BB/9 (2.06), and left-on-base % (86.5). They’re 2nd in BB% (5.8), 3rd in K/BB% (21.3), 5th in HR/9 (.65), 6th in K% (27.1), and 7th in K/9 (9.65) and OBA (.217). That’s top 7 in 9 of the 11 “major” statistical categories, according to Fangraphs.

(Brian Johnson and Hector Velazquez have a lot to smile about so far this season. Photo credit: Over the Monster)

Chris Sale, Boston’s bonafide ace, has led the way along with Rick Porcello. They’ve combined for ERA’s under 2, WHIP’s under 1, and 48 K’s in 41.2 IP. David Price, aside from his start vs. the Yankees which he left after 1 inning with an apparent injury, has been great, throwing 14 scoreless innings in his other 2 starts, and even guys like Brian Johnson and Hector Velazquez, fill-in starters for the injured Eduardo Rodriguez and Drew Pomeranz, have performed very well, each posting sub-3.30 ERA’s and tallying 22 K’s in 23.2 IP combined.

Every member of the rotation has stepped up when needed, some even in relief roles, and helped propel Boston to their best start in franchise history. The law of averages is bound to nose its way into the equation at some point, and eventually some of these guys and their numbers will come back down to Earth, but it won’t take away from the start they’ve had as a group. Even if a bit of a drop off does occur, this rotation is bound to be one of the best in the league, and that’s a sturdy foundation for the Red Sox to build on.

(Header photo credit: The Boston Globe)

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