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Red Sox Starter’s Rocky Stretch Shouldn’t Cause Heavy Concern

Brayan Bello entered this season off the back of an improved 2023. There was plenty of excitement surrounding the Dominican Republic native. His expectations for 2024 even led Bello to be Boston’s Opening Day starter. But after a decent start, the right-hander has fallen into a slump. He looks far from what the Red Sox envisioned for the year. But despite that, Brayan Bello’s recent rocky stretch shouldn’t cause heavy concern.

Brayan Bello Shows Flashes Before 2024

Bello made his MLB debut on July 6, 2022, against the Tampa Bay Rays. He was roughed up and continued to struggle over his next six appearances. At the beginning of September, Bello had a 7.27 ERA over 26 innings. But he found his footing and had a phenomenal month. In five starts, the 25-year-old posted a 1.65 ERA and 27 strikeouts. His final start of the year in October didn’t go to plan, giving up four runs over four innings, and he ended the year with a 4.71 ERA. Still, improvement was expected, and it came in 2023. 

Bello had a stronger 4.24 ERA last season and eclipsed 10 wins for the first time in his MLB career. He threw 157 innings, nearly three times more than he did the previous campaign. Bello allowed only 45 walks, or one every three and a half innings. In 2022, he averaged a walk every 2 1/3 frames. Bello had an ERA+ of 107 in 2023, another positive sign. Nearly every statistic was better than the previous year. Many believed that that would continue into this season. 

Bello’s Raw Numbers In 2024

Bello’s statistics this season, compared to the last, aren’t so pretty. In 12 starts, he has a lofty 5.00 ERA. Bello started strong, allowing two or fewer runs in five of his first six starts. That included a contest against the Baltimore Orioles where he allowed just one run in 5 1/3 innings. But beginning May 17 against the St. Louis Cardinals, Brayan Bello encountered an especially rocky stretch. In St. Louis, he gave up five runs in just 4 2/3 innings. He slightly rebounded in his next two starts, garnering two wins while allowing three runs in each contest. Bello entered June with a 4.18 ERA in nine appearances.

This month has not been good for the righty, there’s no other way to put it. Over three starts, he’s given up 13 unearned runs in 15 2/3 innings. Bello began June with an outing of 6 1/3 innings against the Detroit Tigers. Despite not picking up the loss, he surrendered four runs, eight hits, and three walks. 

A bounce-back start against the struggling Chicago White Sox was in order on June 8, but things went sideways when Bello was tagged with the loss and allowed five runs in under five innings. And in his last appearance, things weren’t much better. Bello took the loss against the New York Yankees, giving up four earned runs in 4 2/3 innings. His fifth run surrendered, which was unearned, was also his fault after a defensive mishap while covering first base. 

After having a 2.91 ERA in April, Bello struggled to a 5.66 in May and, currently, a 7.47 in June. Looking at those numbers makes it hard to believe that there is anything positive to come from Bello’s season. He’s looked underwhelming, sometimes overmatched, and out of touch. But raw statistics never tell the full story, and looking deeper into Bello’s 2024 campaign shows a glimmer of hope that he will break out of his current lull.

Brayan Bello’s Rocky Stretch Shouldn’t Cause Heavy Concern

Despite his rough 5.00 ERA, Bello’s advanced numbers match up more closely with his 2023 season. According to FanGraphs, the Dominican starter’s xERA, or expected ERA, sits at 4.24. That’s less than a tenth of a point higher than what he had last year. Is Bello giving up a ton of runs in the last month? Definitely. But are they all expected to occur? Most certainly not. That continues to be true with other advanced stats as well.

In baseball, FIP focuses solely on events a pitcher has the most control over. Those are strikeouts, walks, hit-by-pitches, and home runs. Currently, Bello’s FIP is 4.71, the worst of his career. But, like his ERA, his xFIP tells a different story. xFIP is the same as regular FIP, but it deploys projected home-run rate instead of actual homers allowed. Bello’s xFIP in 2024 is actually the best of his career at 3.75. That’s better than his 3.80 in 2022 and 4.02 in 2023. 

In 2024, Bello has a painfully high home run rate. He’s projected, as shown by his xFIP, to allow less as the season progresses. Bello also has been unlucky with the amount of runs he has allowed. His xERA is far away from his actual one, a difference that is far larger than his 2023 numbers. Obviously, advanced and expected statistics aren’t everything because, simply put, they aren’t actually what is happening on the field. But what they can tell is how a pitcher may perform in the future. And, for a young starter like Bello, that’s what you have to focus on. He’s highly likely to improve. You just have to look beyond the surface.


Photo Credit: © David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports


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