Few days late here, so Sox only post going into today’s game.
I’m no fan of Ventura (and I kind of expected them to fire him on Monday, even if it would have been a little unfair), but to blame him for the team’s slow start is a little misguided (granted they’ve won two in a row over the Tigers, thus the panic buttons have been unpressed). Instead, the blame should, in part, be placed on the Sox pitching, which has been poor, and at times, outright horrible. The Sox, collectively, have a 4.51 ERA, which is not good. But they’ve been unlucky with a FIP and xFIP of 3.96 and 3.90 respectively. In fact, the 0.61 spread between the Sox xFIP and ERA, is the fourth highest in the league. Additionally, their BABIP of .322 is fourth highest in MLB and the strand rate of 69.4% is 7th worst. So if you want a bright spot, here it is, the Sox pitchers have been unlucky. This probably isn't a bad pitching staff, just an average one according to the advance numbers.
But digging deeper? The back end of the rotation is a problem. We knew this coming into the season, but hoped that Danks and Noesi would be able to hold their own. So far? Nope. Danks and especially Noesi are major problems.
*Left on base %
There’s a case here that Danks has been unlucky. High BABIP, low LOB%, and sort of high HR/FB rate. But his ground ball rate is really bad too. Danks has never been much of a ground ball pitcher, and in 2015’s limited sample size, he’s basically 10 percentage points below his career average. So part of Danks’ struggles are self inflicted.
Interestingly, Danks is throwing his fastball a lot more this year. And it’s only coming in at 88 mph, which granted, is the same as the last few years. But Danks is probably done as a starting pitcher in the majors, we've got years worth of data at this point. The problem continues to be the fact that the Sox have him signed for this year and next. He’s a sunk cost at this point. It was probably time to move on last winter, but again, those two years left on his deal made it hard to do so. So while Danks probably shouldn’t be starting in the majors, he’s not even the guy that would be replaced in the rotation because…
HOLY SHIT HECTOR NOESI SUCKS THIS YEAR.
If you want a bright spot, his K/9 isn’t bad and his HR/FB is high. But that’s it. He’s walking everyone. He’s not getting ground balls. His crazy low BABIP is unsustainable. And he’s out pitching his FIP (but under performing his xFIP).
Sure Noesi has only started three games, so we’re talking small sample size and all. But he’s been bad in all three starts. He’ll get one more, but after that… with the news that Rodon is starting on Saturday due to the Sale and Samardzija suspensions; I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the last time Noesi starts for a while.