BOSTON — Red Sox pitchers haven’t been perfect so far, but they have been doing one thing consistently: mowing down batters.
Boston’s starters and relievers have combined for 220 strikeouts over 21 games, which is good for the most in Major League Baseball. And before they played their 21st game Wednesday, a stat from the Elias Sports Bureau revealed the Red Sox were striking batters out at a historic rate.
The addition of guys such as starter David Price — who tied his career high in strikeouts with 14 on Tuesday and has a league-leading 46 Ks — and closer Craig Kimbrel certainly has helped inflate those totals, but Red Sox manager John Farrell said the biggest key is in the bullpen. Boston’s relievers have struck out an MLB-best 87 batters.
“David?s going to get his strikeouts,” Farrell said before Wednesday’s 9-4 win over the Atlanta Braves. “He?s got a track record of that. But I think the greatest improvement has been in our bullpen. … Any time late in the game you can put less balls in play, certainly the better, and we?re starting to really build a power bullpen that hasn?t been the case the last couple years. … We?ve still got work to do in those innings when we?ve got multiple men on. That?s been an area that we need overall improvement on.”
Farrell is right that big innings have been the reason the Red Sox also round out the top 10 in runs allowed with 98. But overall, Boston’s arms have been able to pitch themselves out of jams with more regularity. And Farrell believes approaches of pitchers such as Rick Porcello, who has 30 strikeouts in four starts, that help pitchers sit down batters.
“With Rick particularly, I think he’s just doing a great job of executing pitch-to-pitch,” Farrell said Wednesday. “He said it best the other day, that he’s not looking for strikeouts until he gets to two strikes, and I think any time you’re looking at a pitcher, if they can be singular in their thoughts and just this pitch is the most important, that’s what leads to the strikeouts. And you also look at his walk totals; they’re very low. So I think our guys are just doing a good job finishing off some hitters.”
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