While entering the All-Star break with a 43-43 record, the Sox offense was near the top of the league in many main offensive categories. Their pitching, however, has been a different story.
The bullpen deserves plenty of credit for the way that it has performed so far this year, but the starters so far have not lived up to their billing.
While Jon Lester is on the record that he and the team are disappointed with their first half, the All-Star break has now allowed the team a full four days to rest up and recharge. Now, the question remains how well the pitching staff can improve on its 4.22 staff ERA.
Lester has vowed to not give up on this year, and a bounce-back second half from the lefty would go a long way towards righting the Red Sox ship. So far, the southpaw has not been his usual stellar self but if he shoulders the load and returns to form, he could seriously impact the team's success in the second half.
By the same token, Josh Beckett has not been up to his usual standards, and his 4-7 record reflects that. The big righthander could similarly give the Sox the nudge in the right direction that they need with a strong effort the rest of the season.
Clay Buchholz has been sidelined while recovering from a scary hospitalization, but seems to be on the mend. He could also play a big role in the team's fortunes down the stretch, like another key piece on his way back from injury — Andrew Bailey. While the Sox haven't yet welcomed Bailey back into the fold, with his arm in the bullpen likely allowing Alfredo Aceves to move out of the closer's role, he could help solidify what has already been a strength this year for the Sox.
When all is said and done, the team has a variety of pitchers whose performances could quickly shape the direction of the team's future. Who do you think will matter most?