Are the Red Sox the team we saw in April, or the one we're seeing in May?

With an 18-8 record, the Red Sox tied their franchise record for the month of April last month. They have since lost 4 of 12. Which month is a better indicator of this 2013 team? The first one where the starting rotation was dominant, and the offense came through at the right time? Or the second one where the bullpen has been a disaster and the starters have looked more like their 2012 selves?

First, some numbers:

April  15  4   6.19.66  3.75  0.85  3.24  1.24
May   3  6   5.98.45  3.03  1.39  4.54  1.28
April  3  4  61.510.53  3.84  1.36  4.33  1.25
May  1  2  50.010.16  4.46  1.24  5.20  1.73
April  5.20.2710.3480.446  9.8 23.3
May  3.80.2610.3330.440  9.2 18.3
The starting pitching was flat out dominant in April. Sox starters went 6.1 innings, struck out over a batter per inning, let up less than a run per 9 innings, and had a 3.24 ERA. So far in May (through Sunday), starters have not been as effective. They have only gone 5.9 innings with a 4.54 ERA, have struck out over a batter less per 9 innings, and given up 64% more home runs. The starting pitching in April faced an average amount of "luck". Their FIP was only slightly higher than their ERA (3.42 FIP, 3.24 ERA). So far in May, they have been a bit unlucky. Their 15.1 HR/FB rate (compared to the league average 11.1) is the reason that their HR/9 has risen, suggesting poor fortunate. May starters also have a low strand rate, 64.8%, which partly explains why their FIP is only 4.15 -- that certainly doesn't look as bad as their 4.54 ERA. It is a good sign that starters have been less generous in giving up free passes with their 3.03 BB/9. 

The bullpen was supposed to be one of Boston's strengths this year, but thanks to injuries has not been up to snuff. Unfortunately, Red Sox relievers have been worse in May than in April. The bullpen ERA, WHIP, and BB/9 have all risen. Fortunately, bad luck has come into play in May, as a .385 BABIP is driving up ERA and WHIP, and explains why relievers' May FIP is only 4.11 (compared to April's 4.04 FIP). 

The offense has been especially troublesome the last couple of games, but there are some silver linings. The Sox are scoring fewer runs, but that is more a product of their BABIP normalizing. Their .339 April BABIP was bound to fall back to the MLB average (.293). They are also striking out 5 percentage points less than in April, and their contact rate is up to 80.7% (from 76.6%).

Back to the question at hand. Are the Red Sox more like the team we saw in April, or the team we are seeing in May? The starters in May have not been nearly as successful as they were in April, but part of that is poor luck. A 3.24 ERA from the rotation will be difficult with the way Doubront has been pitching, but I'd be a lot more surprised to see an ERA closer to May's 4.54. The same goes for the bullpen, as injuries and bad luck have been the cause of a disastrous May. The offense may be closer to the way they have been performing in May, but we really can't complain about a .773 OPS, which would be 5th in baseball. 

So where does this leave us? This team will go as far as their pitching staff. They have faced some bad luck in May, which has unfortunately happened at the same time as a lull in the offense. Don't lose faith yet. It's only the second month of the season, and it's not even halfway done. 

Let me know your thoughts by commenting below or tweeting at me @therealjtrunfio. Read more of what I have to say here