IT’S THE ALL-STAR BREAK, and The Professor has come out of his office cubicle to serve up the grades for your under-achieving Red Sox through 90 games.
Here we go.
Christian Vazquez (A+): One of the pleasant surprises through the spotty first half.
Xander Bogaerts: (A): The .295 batting average, 17 homers, 65 RBIs and .919 OPS to go with near-flawless fielding for the underrated star.
Rafael Devers (A): This grade would have been even higher but he didn’t hit his first homer of the season until May 3.
Marco Hernandez (A): OK, small sample size. But what this guy has done after so much time off is downright impressive.
Brock Holt: (A-): The emergency fill-in when the Dustin Pedroia experiment blew up has been good when healthy.
Mitch Moreland (B+): The injury curtailed what Moreland was doing with the power bat.
Brandon Workman (B+): Forget the 8-1 record. Forget four blown saves in seven official chances. The righty’s been good.
David Price (B+): Following up on his big postseason, the lefty is earning his million per start.
J.D. Martinez (B): You get the feeling there’s a true hot streak coming from this power bat.
Michael Chavis (B): After a season marred by suspension, the rookie has provided help at two positions and with the bat.
Heath Hembree (B): The most effective arm in that bullpen? Injury cut him short.
Mookie Betts (B-): An All-Star mostly off what he did last year, .272 with 14/40/.859 ain’t bad. But this is a player graded at a higher standard.
Marcus Walden (B-): Came out of nowhere and contributed.
Eduardo Rodriguez (B-): Yes, he has nine wins. But there’s still something enigmatic about this lefty.
Josh Taylor (B-): We didn’t see a whole lot but 25 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings is impressive.
Andrew Benintendi (C): They worked on his swing during down time and it seems to be working. One of the disappointments of the first half.
Jackie Bradley Jr. (C): Look, the guy is streaky. You have to learn how to deal with it.
Rick Porcello (C-): It’s an odd-number year. Take what you can get.
Sandy Leon (C-): Truly now the backup catcher, except when it comes to Chris Sale.
Ryan Brasier (C-): OK at times, he has failed in three of his 10 official save chances.
Matt Barnes (C-): He’s 3-3 with a 4.62 ERA but has converted just four of his 10 save chances. He HAS fanned 67 in 37 innings.
Chris Sale (D): The Prof isn’t all about wins and losses, but a 4.04 ERA is nothing to be proud of. Let’s see where the roller coaster takes him. He has allowed 16 homers in 107 innings after yielding 11 in 158 last season.
Nathan Eovaldi (D): The closer to be had an ERA of 6.00 in four games before hitting the IL.
Eduardo Nunez (D): Firmly on the bubble when the injured players return, he just hasn’t hit.
Hector Velazquez (D): He is the utility arm on this team but really didn’t do much in the first half.
Mike Shawaryn (D): He had his chance and is already gone.
Josh Smith (D): Only 10 appearances, but the righty managed to be 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA.
Colton Brewer (D): He’s 1-2 and has yielded 43 hits in 38 1/3 innings.
Steve Pearce (F): New contract off what he did last year, but a poor start and then the injury.
Travis Lakins (F): Rough on a guy who made only seven appearances.
Dustin Pedroia, Sam Travis, Tsu-We Lin, Bobby Poyner, Tyler Thornburg, Steven Wright, Ryan Weber, Darwinzon Hernandez, Trevor Kelley, Erasmo Ramirez: Just not enough to grade.
Alex Cora (C): The moves that worked last year have failed in 2019 but much of it is not his fault.
Dave Dombrowski/ownership (F): They’re lumped together here because the combo apparently made the decision not to sign a closer — and now looks to Eovaldi to save the chances to repeat.
At the break
The Red Sox finished the unofficial first half on a four-game winning streak and five wins in the last six games. To this streak we provide the following footnote:
The starting pitchers they faced in Toronto and Detroit were:
Rookie Trent Thornton; rookie Jacob Waguespack; up from Triple-A Derek Law; rookie Ryan Carpenter; veteran former decent pitcher Jordan Zimmerman; and rookie Gregory Soto.
An impressive list? Thornton notched his third major league win Sunday; Waguespack made his second big league start (and won); Law had to be summoned from the minors because Marcus Stroman was hurt; Carpenter is 2-7 in his big league career; Zimmerman, beaten to a pulp by the Sox, is 0-6 this season, 15-26 over the last 2½ years; and Soto made his second start in the show.
The Yankees got out of the gate with an easy schedule but this is ridiculous. And remember this: The Sox still have 22 games left with the Yankees and Rays. They are 1-6 against New York, 4-5 against Tampa Bay (1-5 after a 3-0 start).
First, though, the Dodgers, fresh off the first dent in their 2019 resume, having lost three of four at home to the Padres (they’re 6-7 in their last 13.) But they’re still 13½ games up in the NL West and are in Boston Friday through Sunday for a little World Series redux.
Tedy Bruschi took to social media to report improvement in his health as he recovers from his second stroke. “Around 10:30 a.m. on July 4th I lost use of my left arm,” he said. “I then tried to speak and realized I was slurring my speech. As I turned to my wife she noticed the left side of my face was drooping. We immediately knew what (was happening).”…
Reports persist that the entire NBA world knew at midseason that Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant were going to team up in Brooklyn. Says Bobby Portis, now of the Knicks: “I knew what was gonna happen in February. We all knew that. Everybody knew that. I just don’t think the media knew that. Us basketball players, we all knew that. I’m not going to leak my source. But we all know where they were going. I’m protecting mine, but we all knew where they were going.” …
Don’t worry, Celtics fans. Paul Pierce, who predicted the Bucks were dead after Boston wiped them out in the first game of the second round, says all is well at TD Garden. Taking veiled shots at Irving, he also made note of Al Horford. “Yeah, it’s a tough loss, but he’s an aging player who’s been on the decline. They weren’t ready to commit that much money to him, and I probably wouldn’t have either.”
Congrats to the U.S. women’s soccer team for the World Cup win — an event that made me watch soccer at 11 in the morning. We haven’t been winning much in the eyes of the world, so let’s bask in this victory for our country. …
Finally, Saturday was officially Paul George Day in Oklahoma City. Ooops. Late Friday night, he was traded to the Clippers to play with Kawhi Leonard.
Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mscotshay.