Boston Red Sox

Jun 18, 2019; Minneapolis, MN: Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora looks on during the sixteenth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. (Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports)

By Matt McCarthy,

In football, it has been said that if you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterbacks.

What do they say about a baseball team that carries 21 pitchers on its roster?

The Red Sox have taken advantage of the September roster expansion unlike any other team in recent memory, promoting eight pitchers from the minor leagues in a desperate attempt to eat innings and stay in the playoff race. They are now carrying an unprecedented 17 pitchers in their bullpen, and it sure seems like they plan to use all of them.

It’s a clown show. How many guys are they going to fit in that car?

The Red Sox were carried to a World Series title last year on the backs of their starting pitchers. They used only a handful of pitchers in October last year, but now they need nearly a full football field worth of pitchers to try and replace that production for the final month of this season.

A 21-pitcher staff is an indictment on the state of the Red Sox, but it tells you even more about the state of the game itself.

The Red Sox have done their part to kill baseball on a nightly basis this season, playing the longest games in the majors with an average time of game of 3 hours and 24 minutes. Pace-of-play is the greatest threat to the national pastime, but don’t tell that to the Red Sox. They’re going to use more pitchers than ever before.

Their interminable style of play, which can be easily attributed to both an inability to get anybody out and an apparent organizational unwillingness to throw the ball in a timely manner, has made Red Sox games a slog at best and unwatchable at worst.

Who wants to watch this?

Nobody has time for a four-hour game, especially with this team taking the field every night. Now the Red Sox want to make you sit there for five hours. They’ll keep going to the bullpen because there is an endless stream of nameless guys pouring out of it.

“The games instead of four hours are going to be five hours,” Alex Cora joked this week.

He might have been joking, but is anybody laughing?

How many pitchers can they bring in to a nine-inning game? 10? 12? I don’t know what the record is, but the Red Sox stand a good chance to break it in the coming weeks.

That’s not good for the game.

In Cora’s defense, he’s just doing his job. He’s essentially out of effective starting pitchers. Chris Sale is done, David Price might be too, Rick Porcello is a home run waiting to happen and Nathan Eovaldi can’t give the team any length. The rules allow him to carry a ridiculous number of pitchers in September and he’s taking advantage of it. Bullpen games from here on out.

But for a team with a $240 million payroll, this approach is embarrassing.

And the sport sure doesn’t need this, either.

You can hear Matt McCarthy on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s own Hardcore Baseball podcast and on various 98.5 The Sports Hub programs. Follow him on Twitter @MattMcCarthy985.

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