A lot has gone wrong over the last few weeks for the Red Sox. The pitching hasn’t been as good as it was for much of June. Neither has the defense been as good as it’s been all season. In games where the offense has battled back from early deficits, they fall flat when the pitching and defense erase their hard work. The Red Sox are 5-12 since June 27, and as a result, a two-game lead in the American League Wild Card standings for the top spot is now a one-and-a-half-game lead in the American League Wild Card standings for the last spot.

Recent injuries have had an impact on Boston’s play, sure, and have exposed some more not-so-insignificant roster flaws. But it’s more than that. They know they’re not playing well, so they are trying too much to make things happen. They are in their own heads. And it’s making things worse than they already are.

Red Sox Pitching Began Slide in American League Wild Card Standings

Red Sox rotation has one of the worst ERA's in MLB since June 27. Starters began slide in American League Wild Card standings

The pitching staff was the first part of the team to implode. The Red Sox have a team ERA of 5.19 and a 4.03 FIP since June 27. In that time, Boston has given up the third-most earned runs (86), has allowed the most walks (71), and has the third-highest opponents’ batting average (.265). They are also top 10 in strikeouts (152). The starting rotation has the highest ERA in Major League Baseball (6.84), the fifth highest FIP (4.75), the third most walks (37), the ninth fewest strikeouts (71), and the fifth-fewest innings pitched (79). Red Sox starters have allowed the worst opponents’ batting average against (.300).

Kutter Crawford has been the best of the bunch with a 2.20 ERA, three walks, and 20 strikeouts over 16.1 innings.

On the other hand, Boston’s bullpen has a 3.34 ERA and 3.21 FIP, allowing 26 earned runs, has the most strikeouts (81), and a .221 opponent batting average against. But they also have eight unearned runs against them, among the most of any MLB bullpen, the most blown saves (six), and the most walks allowed (34). All this with the second most innings pitched (70) over the last 17 games.

A weak bullpen is being overused and overexposed because the rotation isn’t doing well, creating a domino effect throughout the entire pitching staff. However, as the eight unearned runs testify, Boston’s defense has had some role in the bullpen’s performance.

Red Sox Defense Has 11 Errors in Last 17 Games

Red Sox defense has 11 errors in 14 of their last 17 games, losing at least six games of the 12 Boston's lost since June 27, continuing their slide in the American League Wild Card Standings.

The Red Sox may have 11 errors in 14 of their last 17 games, but there have been a few mental mistakes that aren’t errors in the box score. Injuries to Enrique Hernandez, Triston Casas, and Christian Arroyo have been a factor. Even Rafael Devers‘ back issues, too. A lack of adequate positional depth, previously hidden, has now been exposed. Devers missed a few games which (has) led to Franchy Cordero being at first base nearly full-time. Bobby Dalbec was forced to third base. Both are/were overexposed as a result.

If Arroyo were healthy, we all know he would have been getting the bulk of the time at third. If Casas were healthy, we probably would have seen him in the not-too-distant future. Instead, we are talking about needing to add a first baseman at the trade deadline.

Franchy and Dalbec Have Been Overexposed

Cordero (five errors at first base in only 37 games), and Dalbec (four errors in 79 games), are contributors, if not outright responsible, for three of the Red Sox’s six recent losses of the 12 they have since June 27.

In the fifth inning of July 7’s 6-5 loss to the Yankees, Cordero dropped a routine pop-up off the bat of catcher Jose Trevino, who was credited with an RBI double on the play. Boston lost, 6-5, Trevino’s RBI double being the deciding run.

Then, on July 11, Dalbec dropped what should’ve been the first out of the eighth inning. Instead, with Boston down by only two runs, the inning continued, and the Rays would score three runs. The Red Sox lost, 10-5.

In the sixth inning of July 12’s 3-2 loss to the Rays, Matt Strahm airmailed the ball to Franchy at first base scoring a run. Instead of holding onto the ball, Cordero threw it to Christian Vasquez at home plate. The ball got by Vasquez, scoring the Rays’ third and deciding run.

Yet another loss came on July 2 versus the lowly Chicago Cubs. In that loss, Devers and Josh Winckowski made throwing errors that eventually would lead to two runs. Boston lost, 3-1.

Devastating Mental Mistakes

Mental mistakes contributed to a couple more losses, overlapping with two losses previously mentioned. The most egregious came in the seventh inning of a 4-1 loss to the Rays on July 13.

With the Sox down 3-1, Yandy Diaz had a base hit to Rob Refsnyder in right field. But Refsnyder hesitated, unsure where to throw the ball back in, which allowed the fourth and deciding run to score. The likely reason he hesitated? Jeter Downs couldn’t make a play on the ball at second base, laying there pounding his hand into the ground.

On July 8, Arroyo completely lost a ball in right field off Joey Gallo, leading to two runs. The Red Sox were down 5-2 at the time. Luckily, he recovered to prevent Gallo from scoring on an inside-the-park home run. The Sox would lose, 12-5.

In the fourth inning of July 13’s loss, catcher Francisco Mejia threw Devers out at third attempting to steal, with J.D. Martinez at the plate and one out. The Sox were down only two runs at the time.

And Alex Verdugo was picked off at third with nobody out in the seventh inning the night before.

The Red Sox have not had much luck in the seventh inning or later over the last couple of weeks, scoring only 15 runs total (26th in MLB) since June 27.

Red Sox Will Be Fine in the American League Wild Card Standings

The season looks to be in jeopardy now, I know. Boston is closer to the Baltimore Orioles than the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Wild Card standings. Still, the Red Sox will be there till the end in the American League Wild Card standings. There’s too much upside coming for the Sox not to finish 2022 with one of the three A.L. Wild Card spots in the standings. Chris Sale, Nathan Eovaldi, and Garrett Whitlock are back. Christian Arroyo and Michael Wacha will likely be back soon after the All-Star break.

Let’s also be honest, though. The Red Sox have been extremely fortunate that the rotation depth has been as good as it’s been. Chaim Bloom’s done well in that respect. What he hasn’t done well is fortifying the bullpen and adding adequate positional depth and versatility. We’ve learned the hard way: Franchy Cordero is not a first baseman, and Christian Arroyo is not an outfielder. Bobby Dalbec isn’t giving them enough to justify his roster spot, either.

Rob Refsnyder improved the right field situation, but not enough because Arroyo is still getting time out there. Triston Casas’s injury hasn’t helped the first base situation, which went from waiting until Casas was ready to a trade deadline priority. If they had better positional depth and versatility, maybe they’re not 5-12 in their last 17. Who knows? At least now, Bloom and the front office know what needs to be done at the trade deadline.

If/when the Red Sox’ flaws are addressed, Boston will be one of the final three teams in the American League Wild Card standings. There’s little doubt about it.

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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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