Who would’ve thought? I knew April of 2022 would be different from April of previous seasons, but what the heck, Red Sox? That was terrible, and it’s all because of the lineup. The starting pitching has come around. The bullpen and defense have been good overall, save for a few games over the last week. You’re supposed to be a better team than this. 

This Red Sox Lineup Is Anemic

The Red Sox lineup is struggling; I get it. But why are we so focused on Bobby Dalbec? Pictured: Bobby Dalbec in Red Sox home white jerseys fielding a ball in a spring training game.

This Red Sox lineup averaged 3.45 runs per game in April (11th in the American League), scoring 76 total runs (24th in MLB). Boston was 26th in home runs (12), 29th in walk rate (5.9 percent), and 28th in wRC+ (75). They’re swinging at everything (52 percent swing rate) and chasing everything thrown to them (36.4 percent). It’s not working. They hit .231/.256/.357/.613 with runners in scoring position. The only thing the Red Sox have been doing right is situational hitting and making hard contact. They led the American League with four sacrifice bunts and 14 sacrifice flies and were in the top ten in MLB in average exit velocity and hard-hit rate over the first month. 

The only ones hitting are Xander Bogaerts, who has eight multi-hit games already, and Rafael Devers. Since his return from food poisoning on April 13th, Trevor Story was hitting .255/.327/.319/.646 through April 27th and has a hit in every game he’s played in but four. Alex Verdugo, who is tied for eighth in MLB with 13 RBI, was hitting but has gone cold in his last ten games, batting only .150/.163/.150/.313. 

Bobby Dalbec hit .147/.213/.235/.449, with a 30.7 percent strikeout rate in April, and Boston’s 7-9 hitters batted only .154/.205/.217/.422. 

The Red Sox have scored three or fewer runs in 10 of their last April 13th games, just as their starting pitching is coming around. 

The Pitching Has Driven the Red Sox

Nathan Eovaldi is repeating his ace-like 2021 but is being wasted by the lineup. Pictured: Nathan Eovaldi pitching in Red Sox home white jerseys.

Everyone paying attention expected pitching across baseball not to be the same as we’re accustomed to seeing any other April due to the shortened spring training, particularly starting pitching. And the Red Sox were no different. The Red Sox rotation ranked 22nd in MLB with a 4.91 ERA through April 21st. But since then, they have led all of baseball with a 1.41 ERA. Despite the rough start, the starters have kept the team in games nearly every night.

Nathan Eovaldi (28.2 innings, 2.51 ERA/3.64 xERA/158 ERA+, eight runs, seven home runs, three walks, 32 strikeouts) and Michael Wacha (20.1 innings, 1.77 ERA/3.38 xERA/225 ERA+, four runs, two home runs, nine walks, 17 strikeouts) have led the charge. Tanner Houck (three runs or less in his three starts with a 3.21 ERA in 14 innings) has been solid behind them; Garrett Whitlock (one run in his two starts over seven innings) too. Rich Hill has been no surprise (17 innings, 3.71 ERA/3.74 xERA, seven runs, two home runs, six walks, 11 strikeouts); he is what he is. Nick Pivetta has been shocking, struggling to find his 2021 form (16.1 innings with an 8.27 ERA/9.01 xERA, 15 runs, four home runs, 13 walks, 16 strikeouts). In his last start, he held Toronto to two runs over 4.2 innings but walked four and struggled with command again. 

Boston’s starters have allowed two runs or less in the last ten games of April. 

Bullpen Has Held Their Own

The surprise, out of nowhere seemingly, of the 2022 Red Sox has been the bullpen. Red Sox relievers ranked 11th in MLB with a 3.23 ERA in April. Matt Strahm, Hansel Robles, Garrett Whitlock, Phillips Valdez, Austin Davis, and Hirokazu Sawamura have been bright spots. Ryan Brasier, Kutter Crawford, Jake Diekman, and Matt Barnes have not been good. 

Despite a few hiccups lately (April 24th in Tampa Bay, April 25th and 26th in Toronto), the Red Sox bullpen has been more than capable.

The Red Sox pitching staff has a lot of stress put on them with the lineup not doing its job. An anemic lineup is wasting excellent pitching performances, and it is losing the team a lot of games they should be winning.

The Defense Hasn’t Been a Problem 

Rafael Devers has been a revelation on defense in 2022. Pictured: Rafael Devers in Red Sox road grey jerseys throwing the ball to first base.

The defense has already helped the Red Sox win games on more than one occasion. Story has been showing off his range almost daily, though he’s still working through throwing from second base. The Bogaerts/Story double-play combo is so smooth and beautiful to watch. Devers has been markedly better at third base this season, too, making nearly every play. Dalbec is getting a bad rap at first base because he’s not hitting and made a couple of blunders that lost games, most notably the Kevin Keirmaier walk-off game in St. Petersburg when he did not get back to first base to field an offline, though not egregious, throw from Story. But he’s been markedly improved defensively, saving his infielders with not-so-easy picks in the dirt a lot. 

Boston’s defense was fifth in Defensive Runs Saved (11) and 16th in Outs Above Average (-2) in April. 

No More “It’s Early” Excuses

Baseball has been “unlocked” for about seven weeks; Spring Training is over for everybody but Trevor Story, with the calendar turning to May. It’s time to get going, and the Red Sox can get right back in the race with a strong run. But they have to start now. Being closer to last place in the American League East than first place is unacceptable for a team with the amount of talent the Boston Red Sox have.

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About Author

Cody Bondeson

I've been a Red Sox fan for as long as I can remember, having lived in New England for nearly half of my life. But it wasn't until I was about 12 or 13 years old that I became obsessed with the Red Sox. Though I live and breathe Red Sox 24/7, I am a more reasoned fan (thus a more reasoned writer) than the stereotypical Red Sox fan and not prone to getting caught up in the ups and downs that come with a 162 game MLB season --- Even a great player fails more than he succeeds, after all.

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