Chris Sale is right. This is embarrassing.
The Boston Red Sox’ ace said just as much after the team’s 12th loss of the season on Tuesday night — an 8-0 loss to the New York Yankees in the Bronx. It was Sale’s fourth loss of the season, as he allowed four earned runs on a solo home run and seven hits in five innings.
Sale is now 0-4 to begin the year, with an 8.50 ERA.
“This sucks,” he told reporters after Tuesday’s loss. “I’m not gonna sugarcoat it. I just flat out stink right now. I don’t know what it is. When you’re going good, it’s good. When you’re going bad, it’s pretty bad.
“I’ve got to find a way to pitch better. This is flat out embarrassing, for my family, for my team, for our fans. This is about as bad as it gets.”
It would be hard to imagine a worse start for the defending World Series champion Red Sox, who had little-to-no roster turnover entering the 2019 regular season. The biggest difference came in the form of not having closer Craig Kimbrel, who’s still a free agent as of Wednesday.
Typically, losing an All-Star caliber closer would be quite impactful. Except, the Red Sox’ biggest issues haven’t been in the bullpen this season. It’s the starting rotation that’s been the problem.
Rick Porcello is 0-3 with in three starts with an 11.12 ERA. Nathan Eovaldi entered his start in the Bronx on Wednesday night with an 8.40 ERA. Eduardo Rodriguez is 1-2 in three starts with a 7.98 ERA.
David Price is the closest thing to a bright spot in the Red Sox’ rotation thus far, as he’s 1-1 in three starts with a 3.79 ERA and is coming off a dominant outing against Baltimore on Sunday, pitching seven scoreless innings with seven strikeouts in a 4-0 Red Sox win over the Orioles at Fenway Park.
The Sox entered their brief two-game series with the Yankees with a 6-11 record after splitting a four-game series with Baltimore over Patriots’ Day weekend. Before that, they split a two-game set with Toronto at Fenway, lost two-of-three to the Diamondbacks in Arizona, lost three-of-four to the Athletics in Oakland, and began the year losing three-of-four to the Mariners in Seattle.
Like Sale said, the beginning of this championship reign has been flat out embarrassing.
For that to change, it will start with Sale. The same Sale who just signed a five-year, $145 million contract extension with the Red Sox, which doesn’t begin until next season.
I told you at the time of the signing that it was a good deal for both sides. Heck, I had created those exact numbers for a Sale extension before the Red Sox even offered it to him. Which makes you think, am I the real Red Sox GM?
In all seriousness though, if I was the real Red Sox GM, I would’ve probably traded Blake Swihart several years ago, rather than bury him on the roster for the purpose of a 2019 mid-April DFA like they went through with earlier this week. But I’d also try not to make any more panic moves right now, because, well, it is an extremely long season. And because, if you do want to look at the positives with someone as important as Sale, then at least his fastball velocity was up to the high-90’s on Tuesday night in New York.
The problem Sale had against the Yankees was that his location was all over the place. There was no accuracy with any of his pitches. You could throw as hard as 105 mph, but if you can’t mix in any kind of precision, then the velocity doesn’t really matter.
But if we’re expecting Sale to put it all together — velocity and accuracy — soon enough, then the Red Sox’ turnaround will officially start at that moment.
That’s not to let the reigning American League MVP Mookie Betts off the hook for his .212 batting average and .714 OPS, but Sale is the heart and soul of this team. And until Sale turns it on and pitches the way he’s supposed to, then the 2019 Red Sox season will never officially take a turn for the better.
Sale’s right. It’s embarrassing. But everyone’s waiting on him to do something about it.
Listen to “The Danny Picard Show” on PodcastOne, iTunes, and Spotify. Follow him on Twitter @DannyPicard. Subscribe to YouTube.com/DannyPicard.