There are no ifs, ands or buts, the Red Sox rotation has been awful to open the season.

Going into play Wednesday, the starting rotation had a collective ERA of 6.03, the worst in the majors. Over 21 games, eight times the Red Sox’ starter failed to make it out of the fifth inning.

“By and large, it’s a matter of going out and continuing to execute,” manager John Farrell said Tuesday after Clay Buchholz went just 2 2/3 innings. “There’s got to be an ability to slow some hitters down. Knowing that after you score, there’s probably a ramped up intensity by the opposition to try to answer back. That doesn't mean you pitch scared, that means you need to continue to be relentless from the mound. We’ve been inconsistent with that.”

What is even more frustrating is that the Red Sox knew coming in to 2015 that they wouldn’t have a dominant pitching staff. That is why they went out and loaded up on offense, especially with the free agent signings of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval. All the rotation had to do was pitch well enough to keep the team in the game, and give the offense a chance.

Six innings and four runs would give the team as good of a chance as any to win every night with their offense. Through the first 21 games the Red Sox’ offense has scored 109 runs, the second-most in all of baseball. Averaging 5.19 runs a game on offense means the pitching doesn’t even need to be good, it just needs to be average and the Red Sox aren’t even reaching mediocrity.

Furthermore, the AL East is maybe the weakest it's been in years. Three out of the five teams in the division have allowed more than 100 runs, led by the Red Sox’ 118.

The rotation can be fixed, of course. It’s not like the group needs to turn things around by going seven shutout innings every night. Five or six innings of three or four run ball would get good results more often than not.

Being the de facto No. 1 on the staff, Buchholz knows the group needs to be better, and it needs to be better soon. 

"I don't think there's a lack of work going into it,” Buchholz said. “It's sort of snow balling right now. We have to find a way to stop that. Don't have a whole lot of luck on our side right now. … Work harder and go after them next time."