Nation Station: Starting to show quality

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Nation Station: Starting to show quality

By Bill Chuck
Special to CSNNE.com

Do you remember when the Sox started off 1-7? That was when Henny Penny (or was it Brad Penny?) was shouting that the sky was falling. It turns out that it was a tad of an overreaction.

The almost .500 Sox are not entirely out of the woods yet, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Those of you who were boiling the tar and plucking the feathers to dress new Sox pitching coach Curt Young can chillax, Sox starting pitching is producing at a high rate of quality. And quality is the key word.

"Quality starts" is a somewhat controversial statistic for starters. A quality start is defined as a game in which the pitcher completes at least six innings and permits no more than three earned runs. The controversy is that six innings of three-run ball results in an ERA of 4.50, certainly not a reflection of quality. As a result, the stat -- created in 1985 by Philadelphia Inquirer sportswriter John Lowe -- is often minimized in certain quarters of the baseball fan community.

Red Sox Nation should not be amongst the doubters. The quality start will prove to be a critical measure over the next number of years for Boston, as its deep, run-producing lineup should provide enough support to presumably enable starters to pick up wins by holding the opposition to three or fewer runs in six innings.

Lets go to the numbers: The Sox are now 10-11, but lets take a look at the Sox first 20 games, a nice round number that basically reflects four rotations of a five-man staff. In those games through Saturday, the 9-11 Sox had 10 quality starts.

Heres a look at the starters:

Josh Beckett has four starts with three quality starts resulting in two wins and one no-decision (in his last start against the Angels). The Sox have been 3-1 in his starts.

Clay Buchholz did not have a quality start in his first four starts with one win, two losses, and one no-decision. The Sox were 1-3 in his starts.

John Lackey had three starts (he now has four), with one (now two) quality start. Overall, Lackey is now 2-2 and the team is 2-2 in his starts. One of his losses occurred in his first quality start. One of his quality wins occurred Sunday.

Jon Lester has made five starts and has already thrown four quality starts. One of his quality starts resulted in a loss. Lester is 2-1-2, while the Sox are 2-3 in his starts.

Daisuke Matsuzaka has made four starts and made two very high quality, with two stinkers. Not surprisingly, his record is 2-2.

Overall, in the first 20 Sox games the Sox starters were 8-8-4 with 10 quality starts. There were two quality start losses and two starters picked up wins in non-quality start games.

If we go under assumption that quality starts are key to ultimate team success, you might wonder how the competition (code for Yankees) is doing.

Here is a chart (through Saturday) that shows how every AL teams starters are doing and shows wins, losses and no decision by starters, quality starts and the percentage of quality starts by the starters.

TeamGS
Wgs
Lgs
ND
QS
QS
LAA
21
10
5
6
16
76
CLE
20
10
5
5
15
75
DET
21
8
8
5
14
67
OAK
21
8
5
8
13
62
KC
21
7
6
8
12
57
SEA
22
6
12
4
12
55
TEX
20
12
4
4
12
60
BAL
19
6
10
3
11
58
TB
21
7
10
4
11
52
LgAvg
20
8
7
5
11
56
BOS
20
8
8
4
10
50
CWS
21
6
9
6
9
43
MIN20
6
10
4
9
45
TOR
20
4
8
8
8
40
NYY
17
737741

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com.

Heres one more Delicious Stat (so yummy I gain weight thinking about it)

From April 1-7, the Sox played seven games and lost all but one. They had one quality start, Jon Lester in the 1-0 loss to Cleveland.

From April 16-24, the Sox played nine games and won eight and had eight quality starts. The only game they lost (Oakland, 5-0) John Lackey had a quality start, allowing one run in six innings. Clay Buchholz was the only pitcher without a quality start and he fell two outs shy of a QS as he was pulled after 5 13 innings having given up just one run but had thrown 102 pitches.

Good starting pitching bolsters the batters and lessens the pressure on the bullpen. Watch the starts, the more of they are of quality the more wins that will result.

The quality Nation STATion will continue to track quality starts for our quality readers as the season progresses.

Next stop: .500.

Robbie Ross Jr. is getting elbow checked out

Robbie Ross Jr. is getting elbow checked out

Red Sox reliever Robbie Ross Jr.'s tough 2017 has reached a potentially scary moment.

Expected to be the team's lead lefty out of the bullpen, Ross has twice been demoted and struggled in the majors. Now, he's on the disabled list at Triple-A Pawtucket with inflammation in his throwing elbow — a health situation that might explain why he wasn't pitching well in the big leagues.

The Red Sox expect to know more about Ross' situation later in the week.

Ross hasn't pitched in game for Pawtucket since he was most recently optioned. If the 27-year-old was indeed hurt in the majors, it's possible he could retroactivley wind up on the major league disabled list. Ross was demoted May 19, and is on the DL retroactive to May 25. 

Per BrooksBaseball.net, Ross sat at 93 mph with his fastball on May 12. He dropped down to 92 in the following appearance, and the next two outings were at 91 mph. He averaged 94 mph in 2016.

Ross had a 7.00 ERA in eight major league appearances this year, striking out nine and walking five in nine innings. He posted a 3.25 ERA in a 2016 season where he established himself as a key member of the 'pen.

Ross said he was shocked when he was demoted for the first time this year. 

Robinson Cano, Guillermo Heredia homer in Mariners' 5-0 win over Red Sox

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Robinson Cano, Guillermo Heredia homer in Mariners' 5-0 win over Red Sox

BOSTON (AP)  Christian Bergman rebounded from a miserable start with seven shutout innings and the Seattle Mariners halted Boston's season-high six-game winning streak with a 5-0 victory over the Red Sox on Sunday.

Robinson Cano hit a two-run homer and Guillermo Heredia a solo shot for the Mariners, who averted a three-game sweep with just their second win in nine games. Seattle was shut out the first two games.

Bergman (2-2) allowed four hits, walked two and struck out two. He got a lot of help from his infielders when they turned a double play in each of the first four innings.

Three relievers completed the combined five-hitter, with closer Edwin Diaz getting the final three outs despite two errors by infielders.

Bergman was tagged for 14 hits and 10 runs over four innings in a loss his previous start.

Rick Porcello (3-6) gave up 11 hits, but only two runs in 6 1/3 innings.

Seattle finished one off its club record for most double plays turned in a game.

After being shut out for the first 21 innings of the series, the Mariners moved ahead 1-0 in the fourth when Kyle Seager raced home from third after Porcello bounced a pitch that went over catcher Sandy Leon's right shoulder and onto the screen. Seager had doubled leading off and advanced on Danny Valencia's single.

Heredia homered over the Green Monster in the eighth and Cano sent his into the center-field bleachers an inning later.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mariners: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma, on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation, had another bullpen session Sunday because he wasn't happy with one a day earlier.

Red Sox: Manager John Farrell said 3B Pablo Sandoval, out since late April with a sprained right knee, will stay on his rehab assignment at Triple-A Pawtucket to get his "timing going" with more at-bats.

ROSTER MOVES

Seattle sent Saturday's losing pitcher, RHP Rob Whalen, to Triple-A Tacoma and brought up RHP Ryne Harper from the same club.

The Red Sox also made moves with pitchers, sending Saturday's winner, lefty Brian Johnson, to Triple-A Pawtucket and promoting RHP Blaine Boyer for a day. Boyer will go back down Monday when ace David Price is activated.

Boyer made his Red Sox debut, retiring the only two batters he faced.

UP NEXT

Mariners: RHP Sam Gaviglio (0-1, 1.38 ERA) is set to make his third major-league start when they open a two-game series Monday at Colorado. RHP Tyler Chatwood (4-6, 4.50) is scheduled for the Rockies.

Red Sox: LHP Price makes his season debut Monday in Chicago against the White Sox after being sidelined since early spring training with a strained left elbow.

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