The Boston Red Sox farm system is filled with talent, but that does not guarantee success for the minor league affiliates. In Brandon Magee‘s Portland Sea Dogs offensive review, he details the ups and downs of the AA team’s 2015 season.
In our previous article on Portland’s offense, we made a case for the blame of Portland’s disappointing season to be placed on the offense. However, when a team loses as often as Portland did this season, there is more than enough blame to spread around. And there is little doubt, the pitching was detrimental to the cause of victory.
Portland was amongst the two worst pitching staffs in the twelve team Eastern League, battling with the Erie Seawolves for supremacy of the bottom of the barrel. Portland finished second to last in team ERA (4.30) and WHIP (1.42), earned the second fewest team shutouts (5) and the fewest saves (23). The Sea Dogs allowed the most runs, earned (592) and total (689), walked the most batters (511, 39 more than the Richmond Flying Squirrels in second), allowed the fourth most home runs and hit by pitches and had the fewest holds (18).
In much the same way that the offense had a high variance, so to did the pitching. In 56 games, the pitching staff allowed three runs or fewer in a game. The Sea Dogs went 32-24 in those games, a record which is not as good as one would assume. The pitching also allowed seven or more runs an abysmal 36 times, with the offense bailing out the poor pitching four times. In 15 of the 36 games, the pitching staff allowed double digit runs, with the offenses bailing the team out an extraordinary three times.
While the problems were not exclusive to any one part of the pitching staff, the primary cause of distress was with the starting rotation. Of the four pitchers who threw over 100 innings for Portland, the lowest ERA resided with Michael McCarthy, who started 18 of his 29 games, and his 4.59 ERA. On the other hand, only two of the top nine pitchers in terms of innings pitched had an ERA lower than McCarthy.
Given the relative lack of production from those with the most innings, the Most Valuable Pitcher for the Sea Dogs is easy to determine.
Most Valuable Pitcher
William Cuevas started 19 games for the Sea Dogs before earning a well deserved promotion to AAA Pawtucket. He was also tabbed as the starter for the Eastern Division in the Eastern League All-Star Game held at Hadlock Field in Portland. Cuevas pitched 95 1/3 innings for the Sea Dogs, putting up a team high eight wins with a 3.40 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP. Cuevas struck out 91 batters for Portland while also being stingy with the long ball, allowing only four.
The Fire Starters
Luis Diaz led the team in most categories, putting up a team high 136 2/3 innings over 27 starts, allowing a team high 156 hits, 11 home runs, 94 runs (83 earned), 59 walks and 12 HBPs. Diaz was only second on the team with his eleven wild pitches and was third on the team with his 86 strikeouts. All of this led Diaz to a 2-10 record with a 5.47 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP.
Justin Haley was nearly as bad as Diaz in 124 innings over 27 starts. Haley led the team in losses with 16, strikeouts (95) and wild pitches with 15. Haley walked 50 and hit six, leading to a WHIP of 1.55 and a 5.15 ERA.
Mike Augliera was pulled from the starting rotation at the All-Star Break after going 2-13 with a 5.88 ERA and a 1.81 WHIP in 85 2/3 innings over 17 starts. Augliera was far better in the pen, putting up a reasonable 3.18 ERA and 1.02 WHIP over 28 1/3 innings in eleven pen appearances.
Michael McCarthy started in the rotation, was moved to the bullpen in mid-May after starting poorly and then replaced Augliera in the rotation after his cratering. Like Augliera, McCarthy was much better in relief. In his eleven games in relief, McCarthy put up a 2.20 ERA and a 1.04 ERA over 32 2/3 innings. In his 19 starts, McCarthy went 4-9 with a 5.76 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP over 89 innings.
Daniel Rosenbaum has an excuse for his horrific starting line for Portland – it is his first year back from Tommy John surgery. That being said, going 0-7 with a 6.02 ERA and a 1.91 WHIP over eleven starts is ugly. Also ugly is the fact that he walked 28 while striking out only 26. Hopefully Rosenbaum, who was traded to the Red Sox in January for catcher Dan Butler, improves in his second season off surgery.
Heri Quevedo pitched 28 1/3 innings in eight starts and 28 1/3 innings in eleven relief appearances. Which makes his 7.94 ERA and 2.08 WHIP as a starter shine that much brighter, as his relief numbers were a much less egregious 2.86 and 1.48. No matter when he was pitching, however, Quevedo was racking up the walks, giving up 36 free passes during the year.
Aaron Wilkerson was the one reliable starter outside of Cuevas. Wilkerson, in fact, was promoted from Salem to replace Cuevas in the rotation and played the role to perfection. Wilkerson went 4-1 with a 2.66 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP over seven starts (40 2/3 innings), striking out 35 and not allowing a single ball to leave the park.
Given the combustible nature of the starting staff, it is no surprise that many in the relief corps racked up some large innings pitched. Simon Mercedes racked up 79 1/3 innings in 37 games out of the bullpen, going 3-3 with a 4.88 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP.
Madison Younginer, who was one of two Portland relievers named to the Eastern squad in the mid-season All-Star game, tied Cuevas with eight wins in his 39 trips out of the pen. In 73 2/3 innings, Younginer put up a 3.05 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP.
Kyle Kraus picked up 49 innings in only 15 appearances (including a pair of starts) for Portland, putting up a 4.59 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP. Seven of the 51 hits Kraus gave up left the ballpark.
Robby Scott saw action in 25 games for the Sea Dogs (including two starts), putting up a 2.06 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP. Scott struck out 41 in 43 2/3 innings and was also named to the mid-season classic.
Kyle Martin saw action out of the pen 27 times, whiffing 48 batters in 42 innings. Martin went 2-1 with five saves and a 4.50 ERA.
Williams Jerez saw a pair of promotions during the season, starting in Greenville and ending the season in Portland. The converted outfielder pitched in 22 games out of the pen for the Sea Dogs, finishing with a 3.65 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP.
Jorge Marban saw action in 24 games for Portland after his promotion from Salem, going 2-1 with five saves and a microscopic 1.36 ERA over 33 innings. Marban was a bit of an enigma, however, as he walked 22 batters and had a WHIP of 1.42. Marban was the final reliever who saw a promotion to Pawtucket, joining Pat Light, Dayan Diaz and Jonathan Aro.