May 19, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves left fielder Justin Upton (8) and center fielder B.J. Upton (2) and right fielder Jason Heyward (22) celebrate a victory against the Milwaukee Brewers in the ninth inning at Turner Field. The Braves defeated the Brewers 9-3. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Series Preview: Red Sox vs Braves w/ Q&A

The Braves are set to take on the Boston Red Sox in a unique series that sees the Braves play two games at home against the team before shipping off to Boston to play two more games in the confines of Fenway Park.

The Red Sox are currently in the middle of a highly publicized 10 game losing streak, a frustrating stretch for fans of the 2013 World Series champions.  Unlike the Braves, the Red Sox are suffering from an inconsistent offense AND starting pitching staff, with talents like Shane Victorino and Clay Buchholz really struggling here in 2014.

The Red Sox offense is hitting just .234/.312/.358 here in May, while their starting staff have tallied a 4.77 ERA in that same stretch.  There are a lot of questions to ask about what the Red Sox must do to right the ship, so I did a Q&A with Joe Meehan, Staff Writer for of our Fansided Red Sox sister site BoSox Injection.

Q&A:

Brandon Woodworth:  The Red Sox have obviously lost 10 straight games now.  The Braves were in a similar situation just a little over a week ago because of a lack of offense.  What is the cause of this slump for the Sox?

 

Joe Meehan:  I’m not sure where to start. A big part of it is struggles offensively; Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Grady Sizemore are all hitting below .200 during the losing streak. And then, on the rare days where the offense scores some runs, the pitching blows up. The starting pitchers have been consistently mediocre all year, but at least earlier in the season they could count on the bullpen to keep it close. But they’re so overworked at this point that they can’t hold a lead anymore. It’s a real mess.

 

BW:  The recent signing of Stephen Drew pretty much spells the end of Wil Middlebrooks’ time with the Red Sox, it seems.  Is the plan to have Xander Boagerts move to third?  And what will the Sox do with Middlebrooks?

 

JM:  Bogaerts will be moving to third full time, but it’s a little bit unclear what Will Middlebrooks’ role will be once he returns from his injury. It would be a shame to trade him and have him crush 30 home runs for someone else, which he has the potential to do. But I don’t think he’s going to be happy with a utility role that he’s not really suited for. He’ll probably end up being traded at some point, but I think it’s a mistake. I would’ve liked to see him come back healthy and try to work through his struggles. It’s not like he can make the team any worse than it is right now.

 

BW:  When can we expect to see Drew back in Major League action?

 

JM:  Drew began his minor league assignment on Friday night in Single A and the team expects him to need at least 10 days before he’s ready to return. That puts him in Boston on June 2. He could probably use a couple extra games in the minors after that date to really find his swing, but with all the losing the Sox are doing they might decide he’ll have to do some on the job training.

 

BW:  What’s the deal with the inconsistencies of Clay Buchholz?

 

JM:  It’s gotten so bad at this point that I almost wish I could say it’s a physical issue so that he could take some time off and come back as the old Buchholz. But he claims he’s fine physically and just can’t figure out why he’s getting shelled. That’s concerning to say the least. John Farrell believes his issue “looks mechanical in nature,” so hopefully it’s correctable. I have my doubts though; correcting a mechanical issue midseason sounds like a difficult task.

 

BW:  The Sox are currently in last place in the division, but it’s far from over in a division filled with many good but inconsistent teams.  What do you feel has to be done for the Red Sox to contend for the division again, and what team is the biggest roadblock for them in pursuit of the division?

 

JM:  I think they need to make a change to the rotation. There’s something to be said for letting veteran pitchers work their way through their struggles, but the Sox are relying on Jon Lester and John Lackey to win every outing because Felix Doubront, Buchholz and Jake Peavy have been an almost guaranteed loss. Someone needs to go (probably Doubront) while letting a young guy like Brandon Workman step in. Then they need an outfielder who can hit. I don’t care if he’s the worst defender in the world (okay, I do a little bit), they just need to get someone who can hit over .220, preferably a centerfielder.

As for the pursuit of the division, I’d say the Blue Jays will be the toughest to catch. They’re a dangerous pick to make because they’re the kings of inconsistency. But that lineup has always been scary and they’re winning now because the pitching is finally strong. They’ll be tough to get through if their pitchers can keep up this recent performance level.

 

 

 

 

Game 1:

1:10 PM EST, Monday, May 26th

Probables:  Clay Buchholz (2-4, 6.32 ERA) vs Ervin Santana (4-2, 3.42 ERA)

Game 2:

7:10 PM EST, Tuesday, May 27th

Probables:  Jon Lester (4-6, 3.36 ERA) vs Aaron Harang (4-4, 3.32 ERA)

Game 3:

7:10 PM EST, Wednesday, May 28th

Probables:  Gavin Floyd (0-1, 2.49 ERA) vs John Lackey (5-3, 3.58 ERA)

Game 4:

7:10 PM EST, Thursday, May 29th

Probables:  Mike Minor (2-3, 3.90 ERA) vs Jake Peavy (1-2, 4.65 ERA)

 

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