Three reasons to be excited about the Red Sox pitching staff

There is one reason that the Red Sox have struggled mightily since September 2011: pitching. This pitching staff, from the starting rotation to the bullpen, will be responsible for Boston's playoff chances; fortunately they are showing encouraging signs thus far under new pitching coach Juan Nieves.

Three numbers to be excited about:

2.56: Boston's five starters have combined for a 2.56 ERA in 31.2 innings this Spring (including the Puerto Rico exhibition). Red Sox starters have seen their ERA climb at an alarming rate the past three seasons (4.17, 4.49, 5.19). Unless that trend is bucked in a big way this year, the postseason will be a long shot.

1: Red Sox starters -- specifically John Lackey -- have allowed only 1 home run this Spring. That translates to a 0.28 HR/9, a number that is unsustainable and attributed to a small sample size; however, considering that Red Sox starters had the 4th highest HR/9 last year (1.31), this is good news.

3.25: The projected seven members of the bullpen (assuming Alfredo Aceves takes an injured Craig Breslow's spot) have a 3.25 K/BB. Last season, our bullpen had a 2.46 K/BB, 12th best in baseball. Adding Koji Uehara and his other worldly career 7.97 K/BB should bolster Boston's strikeout to walk ratio this season.

It's early in Spring Training, and it is only Spring Training, but Sox fans can only be optimistic about the pitching staff. So far so good for Nieves...

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