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The Boston Red Sox have lost six of their last seven games, going from a 1 1/2 game lead in the AL East to now trailing the Rays by 1 1/2 games. The offense has been pretty stagnant in this stretch for sure, but the rotation is increasingly becoming a problem. Left-hander Martín Pérez has allowed nine runs on 12 hits in 5 1/3 innings in his last two starts. 

He's now been removed from the rotation. 

"We actually talked to Martín today and he's going to the bullpen," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Friday (via masslive.com). "It's something because of where we're at and the people we are adding in the upcoming days, it just makes sense."

Tanner Houck will take Pérez's spot next time through the rotation, but Cora referring to adding players in the coming days certainly alludes to Chris Sale

Sale is rehabbing from last year's Tommy John surgery and is set to make a final minor-league start Saturday before he's back in the rotation. In four rehab starts to this point, Sale has dominated. In 15 1/3 innings, he's given up just three runs (1.76 ERA) on 15 hits with 27 strikeouts against two walks.

On his own, though, Sale isn't going to be a savior. Red Sox starters have a 5.50 ERA in the second half. All-Star starter Nathan Eovaldi was torched for six runs in 5 1/3 innings last time out. Garrett Richards has a 5.21 ERA and 1.66 WHIP this season and has no business being in a contender's rotation. You could say the same about Eduardo Rodriguez's 5.33 ERA and 1.40 WHIP, though he threw five scoreless innings last time out. That leaves Nick Pivetta (4.57 ERA, 4.30 FIP, 1.32 WHIP) and Houck, who has good numbers but he only 39 career big-league innings and hasn't gone more than five innings in a game all season. 

The struggles underline why two of us mentioned in this week's roundtable that the Red Sox should have done a lot more to help the rotation via trade. They are competing for the AL East title and if they miss out on that, they'll need to win the Wild Card Game. A playoff rotation in isn't very imposing when we consider Sale is coming off major surgery and Eovaldi is inconsistent: 

1. Sale
2. Eovaldi
3. Pivetta?
4. Houck? 

Maybe Rodriguez gets really hot down the stretch. He was varying degrees of good in 2017-19, after all. Still, this is very likely to be the worst playoff rotation -- if the Red Sox hold onto a playoff spot, that is.