BOSTON -- It's probably safe to say the Red Sox are more than willing to say goodbye to April. It's less safe to say, at least with certainty, that better things await the team in May.
As the first full month of the regular season comes to a close, the defending champs continue to struggle in their effort to put together solid, sustainable play on a daily basis. To this point, the only consistency has been inconsistency for the 2019 Boston Red Sox.
The good news, though, is that teams rarely lose their World Series claim in April, and there have been teams similarly positioned that have rallied to finish out strong the rest of the way. Hell, last year's NL champion Dodgers fell to 10 games below .500 in May before turning things around and making a run to the World Series.
So even though things haven't been wonderful and the team is coming off yet another up-and-down week, there are some various signs to suggest that this sketchy start to the year could be thrown under dirt in the coming weeks and months. However, if May isn't any better, it could be time to start pushing that panic button.
As we know, every MLB campaign is a grueling marathon filled with peaks and valleys, and there are certain noteworthy aspects to be taken from the highs and lows and everything in between. As such, throughout the course of this season, we'll check in with the Red Sox to see where they're at in defending their throne, what we've learned recently and what's next for the reigning champs.
Then: April 30, 2018: 21-7, 1st in AL East | Now: April 30, 2019: 12-17, 4th in AL East
How's the offense?
Ever since calling himself out for "unacceptable" production, Mookie Betts has been on a tear. We touched on the beginnings of a turnaround last week, and Mookie has continued to find his MVP form. He's currently riding a 10-game on-base streak (.543 OBP) and has gone 17-for-38 (.447) with seven extra-base hits and eight walks in that span. Since the streak began, Betts leads the majors in times on base (25), is tied for the most hits in all of the majors, and has had seven multi-hit games.
Elsewhere in the Sox outfield, Jackie Bradley Jr. continues to struggle mightily... at least at the plate. He's hitting just .155 with a .234 OBP and five RBI through his first 25 games. To put that in perspective, Mookie has more hits over his past 10 games (17) than Bradley does all year (13). JBJ has also struck out in nearly one-third (29.5 percent) of his ABs.
Last week we highlighted Michael Chavis' call-up and his impressive debut. He has continued to look comfortable with his role in the lineup. The 23-year-old is hitting .286 with three home runs, eight RBI and five runs scored over his first 28 at-bats. His sweet swing is looking like a perfect match with the Green Monster in left. At this rate, the team might be in for some tough lineup/rosters decisions when a few of their injured infielders come off the IL.
Rafael Devers is still looking for his first home run of the year but he's been contributing in the box nonetheless. The third baseman has reached base in each of his last 13 games, batting .366 with a .469 OBP.
What about the pitching?
The rotation still has a ways to go before it's considered to be living up to its billing, but there's reason to be positive about the direction the staff is heading in. Sox starters have allowed three earned runs or fewer in 14 of the team's past 16 games and bringing a little more consistency to the mound.
Eduardo Rodriguez had a very nice outing against the Tigers last week, earning a win while going six innings and giving up two hits, one run, seven strikeouts and three walks. Rick Porcello followed up that up with his first win of the year in a solid start against Detroit. After a miserable start to the year, Porcello is starting to turn things around with five earned runs over 11.2 IP in his last two starts.
That being said, it was a bit of a rough luck weekend for the top of the rotation as both Chris Sale and David Price took Ls against the Rays. The Sox wasted a good outing from Price on Saturday when he went six innings, giving up two runs on four hits while striking out seven and walking three. A solo homer from Betts was the team's only offense in that 2-1 loss credited to Price. Then, Sale dropped to 0-5 on the year when he gave up four runs (two earned) over seven innings with eight strikeouts and three walks on Sunday.
It was an up-and-down week in the win-loss column but the bullpen has been very solid over this recent stretch. Sox relievers have allowed zero earned runs and one hit or less in each of the last four games, with opponents going just 3-for-39 (.077) in that span. After a rough outing against the Yankees earlier this month, Brandon Workman has been especially good, allowing no hits to the last 22 batters he's faced. Workman has allowed just two hits (both singles) all year.
Moment of the week
On the heels of a frustrating two-game sweep by Tampa over the weekend, the Red Sox got off to a pretty ugly start to a new series against Oakland on Monday. Rodriguez gave up four earned to the A's in the second inning and it looked like Boston might be barreling toward its third straight loss. These appeared to be dark times, even for someone as twisted as Stephen King.
I miss the Red Sox. I wish they were playing this year.— Stephen King (@StephenKing) April 30, 2019
But that outlook flipped pretty quickly when the Sox exploded for a six-run third that ultimately powered them to a bounce-back victory.
We haven't seen many of these massive innings for the Red Sox yet this year, so the outburst was a welcome surprise -- especially at that juncture.
Still no follow-up comment from Stephen King on the effectiveness of his reverse jinx.
The Sox finish off a three-game series with Oakland at Fenway this week before heading to Chicago for a three-game weekend set with the White Sox on the South Side. Then they'll head to Baltimore for an additional three games against the Orioles before returning home the following weekend.