Originally written on 1313 Sports  |  Last updated 4/3/12

Thumb injuries to Red Sox pitchers Josh Beckett and the apparently 2-ply, tissue paper made, Andrew Bailey have the rotation and bullpen in a state of flux. An ominous beginning to a 2012 season for a team who desperately needs to get over last season’s September collapse could do without. Prior to the 2011 season the Red Sox were highly touted and many predicted 100 plus wins, but the 2011 April performance seemed to foreshadow a tumultuous ending as the Sox finished the month just 11-15. They played tight and fundamentally flawed baseball and newly signed Carl Crawford came out of the starting gates swinging at mosquitoes. This season’s April schedule offers no reprieve for the galactically paranoid fans of the Nation.

With far less optimism in tow and endless questions concerning pitching depth, injuries and new manager Booby Valentine abound, the Sox will start things off with a brutally tough opening month schedule. Their first 15 games will be played against offensively gifted line-ups such as the Detroit Tigers, Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers and the rival New York Yankees. Those are 15 games, equaling roughly 3 full turns through the rotation with the the snowball effect of the Andrew Bailey and possible Josh Beckett injuries looming large.

Alfredo Aceves was rumored to be filling in as the temporary closer until news of the Beckett thumb injury was revealed by Aceves during an interview. Now, it looks as if Melancon will get his shot at closing, but who is left to set-up? Huge gaps will be left open in the 7th and 8th innings.

Aaron Cook, who has pitched admirably this Spring may be slotted in to replace Aceves as the long relief guy, but if he has more than 6-7 appearances in the opening month it will more than likely mean the starters haven’t done their jobs. The results of Beckett’s exam will be of the utmost importance. He did toss 100 pitches in a simulated game on Sunday, so he can’t be hurt that badly, but with Beckett’s habits of pitching well one year and struggling the next I would prepare yourselves for anything.

Rounding out the remaining games on the April schedule are the Minnesota Twins and the Chicago White Sox. Last season’s record versus the team’s on the April schedule look as follows:

  1. Detroit 5-1
  2. Toronto 10-8
  3. Tampa Bay 6-12
  4. Texas 4-6
  5. New York 12-6
  6. Minnesota 5-2
  7. Chicago 2-4

That is a combined record of 44-41 and a winning percentage of .518. I would be more than pleasantly surprised if the Red Sox end the month of April with a win percentage in that neighborhood. That would be a record somewhere in the neighborhood of 12-11. Does anyone really believe that the Red Sox can open the season with a 12-11 against these teams with the improvements of teams such as Detroit, Texas and Tampa Bay? My guess would be more in the range of 8-9 wins. Below is the Sox schedule for April. You can click on any game to see pitching match-ups and TV/Radio networks carrying the broadcast.

Having some solid performances for unproven starters Daniel Bard and Felix Doubront could make or break their confidence levels for the remainder of the season. Let’s just hope they show some grit and the offense decides to put up 6-7 runs per game. One silver lining if the Sox start the season slowly once again is a relatively easy start to May. Let’s just hope we don’t spend the bulk of May trying to get back to .500.

How many wins do you think the Sox will end April with?

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