This has become an all-too-familiar sight for Boston Red Sox fans: Manager Ron Roenicke going to the mound to take the ball from another beleaguered pitcher. AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

Historically bad.

There is no other way to describe Boston Red Sox pitching one-third of the way into the season.

The Sox took the field at Yankee Stadium on Monday night with a seven-game losing streak and were giving up an average of nine runs a game during the skid. Sunday night marked the first time in a week the Sox held an opponent to fewer than eight runs. That stretch of six consecutive games was the longest run in franchise history.

On Saturday Nathan Eovaldi was unable to stop the damage. He’s the undisputed ace of the staff in 2020, but isn’t supposed to be. Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez would be listed ahead of him in a normal season, making him a decent No. 3 man in the rotation.

As you know, this isn’t a normal year. Sale and E-Rod are gone for the season, and Boston’s lack of pitching depth has been exposed. Chris Mazza, who made the first big-league start of his career Sunday night, was already the 11th pitcher to start a game for the Sox this season.

According to Elias Sports Bureau, that ties the MLB record for most starters used by a team in its first 22 games. It’s been 62 years since the last time that happened.


“We need to play better,” Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner told me in a NESN interview over the weekend. “If you’re giving up eight runs a game you are not going to be competitive. We were hoping that some of our pitchers that we signed would perform a little bit better. I don’t want to give up on them. This is a short window, but nobody’s very pleased, including the players.”

The Sox had the worst record in the American League through three weeks of play, and are one of a few teams that will clearly be sellers heading into the MLB trade deadline – less than two weeks away. All eyes will be on Chaim Bloom as he oversees the baseball operations group in its first steps towards rebuilding a team that won a championship just 20 months ago.

The rebuilding really began in February when Bloom traded 2018 MVP Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers for Alex Verdugo and two prospects. The bad news is none of the players who came back in return for Betts were pitchers.

The good news going forward is that there should be a plethora of teams looking to add to their chances of winning a championship. Almost everyone is in the hunt, thanks to an expanded playoff pool.

The Red Sox are not. They are just looking for any glimmer of hope from the pitchers they are auditioning at a record pace. None of the 12 pitchers making their first appearances for Boston this year are blue-chippers. Most were released by other teams and are trying to find a landing spot to stay in the league.

That’ll change when Darwinzon Hernandez returns to Boston later this season.  He would’ve been a late-inning reliever when the season began but tested positive for COVID-19, along with fellow lefty Josh Taylor.


Taylor will be joining the team soon, possibly this week. Hernandez is being held back as he tries to stretch out to become a starter. He threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings in a simulated game at the team’s alternate training facility in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, on Sunday.

Hernandez is just 23 years old and was signed by Boston as an international free agent in 2013. He has a career ERA of 3.50 and was primarily a starter until last year. That’s when the Red Sox moved him into the bullpen as a way to get him to the majors quicker.

The team’s priorities have changed. They clearly need starting pitching, and a true prospect like Hernandez could give us something to look forward to in the years to come.

Which is what the 2020 season has quickly become. It is a low point for a franchise that expects to be competitive every year, and has its work cut out for it if wants to get back to that point in the not-too-different future.

Tom Caron is a studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on NESN. His column runs on Tuesdays in the Portland Press Herald.

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