Clay Buchholz allowed a career-high 10 runs in Sunday's loss to the Yankees. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Red Sox rotation can get away with not having an ace, lacking reliability another issue

Ryan Hannable
April 15, 2015 - 3:05 pm

The Red Sox took two out of three games from the Nationals in their first homestand of the season and are off to a 6-3 start overall. But, this doesn't mean everything is clicking for the team. After allowing eight runs over 31 1/3 innings the first time through the rotation, through four games the second time around Sox starters have allowed 28 runs in just 18 1/3 innings. Clay Buchholz allowed 10 runs Sunday night against the Yankees. Rick Porcello allowed four in the home opener Monday. Justin Masterson allowed seven in his return to Fenway as a Red Sox Tuesday, and Wade Miley allowed seven on Wednesday in his first home start. "We come away with a series win. I will say we have the capability from a starters standpoint to keep a game under control and that needs to be more consistent than this time through the rotation," manager John Farrell said after the game Wednesday. Miley lasted just 2 2/3 innings Wednesday. Buchholz 3 1/3 innings Sunday, and Masterson 4 2/3 innings Tuesday. This meant the Red Sox' bullpen was used way more than it should have been, and with the team not having a definitive long-relief man in their bullpen, there is some cause for concern if the trend continues. Anthony Varvaro threw 50 pitches on Wednesday, three shy of his career-high. Alexi Ogando went two innings or more just three times last season. Former starter Robbie Ross Jr. has looked much better in short stints, rather than longer outings, as evident by his 5.70 ERA as a starter, and 3.22 ERA as a reliever (going into Wednesday). There are options in Pawtucket for long relief help in Steven Wright, Matt Barnes (who was a reliever in spring training and now a starter in Triple-A), or even prospect Brian Johnson (if the organization thought he was ready for the big leagues). Farrell said making a roster move isn't an option, as it's on the shoulders of the starting rotation to turn things around. "Again, this goes to the rotation and the need to get deeper into games is going to be required," Farrell said. "We have the capability of doing that. We've shown it. There's track record of that being done, but to say that we're going to make a roster change because of the rotation that is not in the works." Throughout spring training the talk of the rotation was while they didn't an ace, their durability and dependability would carry the group. Miley had thrown 200+ innings in two of his three full seasons in the league. Porcello eclipsed the 200-inning mark last season, and was right around 175 the previous three. Masterson has gone over 200 innings twice, and threw 193 another. The starters know the importance of going as deep into games, especially Miley. "It's awful," he said of going just 2 2/3 innings on Wednesday. "I think [the bullpen] did a great job to eat those innings up. Like I said, I need to do a better job getting deep into games and keeping those guys off the scoreboard." As shown over the first nine games of the season, the Red Sox are going to hit. They've averaged 6.22 runs a game, and have scored at least six runs in six of them, which leads the majors. Lacking an ace can be overcome because of way the roster is constructed with a powerful offense by picking up the slack some nights. Lacking dependability from the rotation cannot. As Farrell indicated, help isn't coming. It is up to the starters, and the starters alone to change.