Wade Miley and Carl Willis. Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe
The pitching rotation of this season has been subject of criticism and dissapointment since Clay Buchholz was on the mound on the third game of the first series against the Yankees. Even though we all know that this rotation has underperfomed because of their pitchers, 41 days ago, Juan Nieves was fired as the Red Sox pitching coach and two days later, Carl Willis took over. When Juan Nieves was with the Red Sox, they had the 29th-worst ERA (5.54) in the Majors. With Carl Willis there's only 1.03 points of difference of ERA and they rank in 28th-worst ERA of both leagues. 1.03 points between both ERAs is not enough to compare Nieves with Willis, so let's break down the numbers.
Since Eduardo Rodríguez and Steven Wright didn't start any game with Juan Nieves as a pitching coach, and Justin Masterson has started only one game with Carl Willis, I won't take them into consideration. Only Clay Buchholz, Rick Porcello, Wade Miley and Joe Kelly are going to be used as report cards for both coaches.
Let's start with Clay Buchholz. Our "ace" started six games with Juan Nieves in which he averaged the following stats per game:
Buchholz had an ERA of 6.03, one win and four losses with Juan Nieves.
Weird haircut Clay (he got that awful look three days after Nieves was fired) has started seven games with Carl Willis with the following stats per game:
The right-handed currently has an ERA of 3.02, two wins and two losses with Carl Willis.
We can clearly see an improvement in Buchholz with the second pitching coach because every stat taken into consideration has been noticeably better, except for the strikeouts per game. He also has two games of at least 8 innings pitched with Carl Willis and he didn't have one with Juan Nieves.
Now let's take a look at Rick Porcello, our 20 million dollar arm. As Buchholz, Porcello started six games with Juan Nieves. Here are his stats per game:
He had an ERA of 4.38, two wins and four losses with Juan Nieves.
Porcello has started seven games with Carl Willis with the following stats per game
He currently has an ERA of 6.2, one win and five losses with Juan Nieves.
There's no doubt that Porcello pitched better with Juan Nieves, but there's still hope in that he can turn his season around. Last season his second half was slightly better, so I can definetely see him pitching better at some point in July. Even though there's no excuse for not performing if you're not injured, it's still his first year in Boston and all eyes are on him since signing that contract in Opening Day. I'm sure he's going to adjust to the Red Sox. I hope so.
It's Miley's turn. He had five starts with Juan Nieves and here are his stats per game:
He had an ERA of 7.15, one win and three losses with Juan Nieves.
The left-hander has eight starts with Carl Willis with the following stats per game:
He currently has an ERA of 3.83, five wins and three losses with Carl Wilis.
Wade Miley obviously had an awful first month , but he eventually found his form and has performed at an adequate level most of the times. Numbers don't lie and even though he has higher average of hits allowed per game, his stats are clearly better with Wilis.
Lastly but not least, let's take a look at Joe Kelly. He had five starts with Juan Nieves with the following stats per game:
He had an ERA of 5.72, one win and one loss with Juan Nieves.
The fifth man of the rotation has seven starts with Caril Willis with the following stats per game:
He currently has an ERA of 5.26, one win and three loses with Carl Willis.
Joe Kelly seems to be the only one without a noticeable change with both pitching coaches, so what's the deal with him? I don't think there's anyone capable of fixing his mechanics but himself.
Now that we have broke down the most relevant numbers, let's try to answer the opening question. Has Carl Wilis been better than Juan Nieves? Somewhat. Only Buchholz and Miley have shown an ample amelioration in their mechanics and results, but that's it. Porcello has been worse and Kelly isn't showing any signs of improvement, so can we really say that firing Nieves was the right move? Honestly, at the time of the firing I thought that it was only a movement to send Farrell a message, but they've been playing even worse then and the front office still has his back. Maybe Cherington and company actually believed that firing Nieves and bringing someone new was going to be the right move and the turning point of the season, but Willis has made only a mininum difference in this team. Let's just hope that the next time they fire a someone, the replacement can make a huge difference. This team needs it.
Do you think that firing Nieves and replacing with Willis was the right move? Leave your comments below and don't forget to follow us on Twitter at @RedSoxLife and once you're there, also follow me at @iamjorgecamargo.