The Boston Red Sox may have left last nights game against the Atlanta Braves with an 8-6 victory, snapping their 10 game losing streak, but there is no doubt the team as a whole needs a lift to get back to competing for the AL East and the World Series. The Red Sox will have an uphill climb from their current record of 21-29, which places them dead last in the AL East, a full eight games behind the division leading Blue Jays at 30-22. As difficult as it may be to change the momentum in Boston, the Red Sox still have plenty if time with 100+ games to go to right the ship. That being said, here’s what the Boston Red Sox need to get back to winning:
1. ANOTHER QUALITY STARTER
Team pitching is often the name of the game in the MLB with the most successful teams often times having the most impactful starting rotation. This can be seen last season with the Red Sox playoff run on the back of guys like Lester, Lackey and Peavy. However with Jake Peavy posting a 4.65 Era so far this year, Felix Doubront allowing 5+ per nine innings and Clay Buchholz allowing 7 runs per nine innings, the Red Sox need another quality starter in the middle/end of the rotation.
The team may not have to look outside of the system with a player like Brandon Workman performing well in few appearances, but they also could look to make another solid trade at the deadline much like the Peavy trade of last season.
Don’t expect the Red Sox to venture out and bring in a 20 million dollar a year ace mid season as that is not what the team needs, instead Boston management will be looking to find a player that will have an ERA hovering around the low four range that will give the team a consistent chance to win.
Whether the new pitcher comes from the farm or via trade, the Red Sox have simply been out of too many games early this season because of lackluster starting pitching and will need to turn that around to be successful.
2. A STOPPER
Going off of the Red Sox need for additional pitching, the team also needs a stopper. The role of a stopper in the pitching rotation, although often overlooked, is vital to every great teams success.
Being a stopper for a team means that your consistency and ability on the mound puts the rest of the team in a position to break any losing streak and regain momentum.
During the Red Sox recent 10 game losing streak, Boston let up 5+ runs in 8 of the ten losses, sorely missing out on opportunities to grab wins in games when they actually hit the ball well.
Boston needs a guy to stop the bleeding when they lose a few games but that guy doesn’t have to necessarily be a top end player. Tim Wakefield could often times be credited with the title of stopper in recent memory for the Red Sox, consistently giving the team solid performances out of the back end of the rotation allowing the Sox to win even when the top end pitchers were playing poorly. If a pitcher who is currently in the rotation like Buchholz, or a new addition steps up and helps stop the bleeding for the Sox when they need it the most it will help the team avoid long skids, maintain momentum, and in turn win more games.
3. BIG PAPI PROTECTION
David Ortiz continues to hit into his old age but this seasons Red Sox roster simply doesn’t have the players around him, especially when looking at RBI’s. Boston perennially is a top run scoring team but only ranks 18th in runs and 16th in RBI’s so far this season.
The team is lead by Ortiz who has 29 runs batted in so far, a reasonable number, and is tailed by Pierzynski (24) and Napoli (22) but these numbers are far from stellar and when you don’t have one elite player to drive in runs everyone needs to contribute. This wasn’t a problem last season but this year with several players slumping and Napoli recently getting hurt the team needs another bat to step up and bring runners home.
It is unlikely that Boston has any chance of acquiring such a player through trade or free agency so the burden will fall on the current roster. Under performing players such as Bogaerts (11 RBI’s) Middlebrooks (9) and Pedroia (16) have to pick up clutch base hits.
4. FIND WAYS TO WIN CLOSE ONES
Much easier said than done.
The Red Sox simply need to do whatever it takes to win close games. Great teams find a way to win even when not playing their best, much like the victory over Atlanta despite Buchholz’s career high in walks.
Reading this article you may have noticed that most of my solution come from within the system and thats simply because Boston needs to find a way to come out on top. Twice over their ten game losing streak the Red Sox lost 1-0 and 5 of 10 games were decided by two runs or fewer. It’s games like these where the Sox need to find a way to win, whether it’s aggressive base running or a safe bunt to move a player over the close ones need to be going in Boston’s favor if they want any hope of making the playoffs.