Considering that every facet to the Red Sox – offense, defense, bench, manager, coaches, relievers, starters, video coordinator – has played its part in the team’s incredible 2018 start, there is no single secret to the success.

But if you accept the challenge that finding an origin story to this tale is a worthy endeavor, then the place to begin is with the starting rotation.

The Big Four of Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez have kept nearly every game under control.

The starters keep the other teams’ offense in check – heading into Wednesday night’s game, their 2.05 ERA was best in the majors by a wide margin with the Astros second at 2.54 – which affords the deep lineup time to chip away at building and maintaining a lead rather than having to hack away in order to mount rallies from deep holes.

If hitting is contagious, starting pitching can be, too.

“We’re going to try to keep it rolling, honestly – I mean, that’s all we can do, feeding off each other, kind of passing the hat if you will,” Sale said after his last start. “It just seems like every day everyone comes in, we’re staying locked in, obviously we have two great catchers behind the plate that can navigate anybody through any lineup at any given time. So, the faith and confidence we have in our catchers, the faith and confidence we have in your lineup – which is a huge part of it, because when you go out there and you have runs to play with – all you’ve got to do is go out there and throw strikes.”

Throwing strikes is not the starter’s only job, of course. Expanding the zone by wasting some pitches comes in handy, but if the ball’s not over or near the plate, hitters won’t swing.

And the idea is that the starters want hitters to swing – swinging and missing is the best outcome, followed by swinging and creating weak contact.

So far, the Red Sox have enjoyed great success doing this, as the following statistics, mostly from FanGraphs.com, demonstrate.

Besides the low ERA, their WHIP of 1.04 is the lowest of all 30 teams as is their walks per nine innings rate of 2.06.

The Red Sox starters are tied with the Dodgers and Yankees for inducing the most swings at their pitches, nearly 48 percent.

Batters aren’t clearing the bases against Red Sox starters. At a rate of 0.65 home runs per nine innings, opposing batters are hitting home runs off Sox starters at the second-lowest rate in the American League, fourth lowest in the majors.

When it comes to batters swinging and missing, the Red Sox starters induce those results at the fourth best rate in the league, seventh best in the majors. When batters make contact with pitches in the strike zone, they do so at the third-lowest rate in the league, sixth lowest in the majors.

The Red Sox pitchers are middle of the pack when it comes to pitch selection and throwing sliders, cutters and change-ups.

But they throw fastballs a lot, more than 58 percent of the time. However, they’re not fireballers. With an average fastball velocity at 91.9 mph, Sox starters throw the third-slowest heat in the league, seventh slowest in the majors. That stat signals that they have excellent command and break on their fastballs, because hitters aren’t making productive contact on fastballs that are thrown for strikes.

In the event of a batter reaching a base, the Red Sox starters have been most adept at preventing them from coming around to score. Their left-on-base percentage of 86.5 is also the highest in the majors.

Thanks in part to Price’s brief start his last time out, Sox starters have not been in games particularly long, their average of 51/2 innings per start is ninth highest in the majors, according to the team’s media relations department. But that’s high enough to alleviate pressure and usage on relievers in the short and long term.

“The starters? It gives us a chance to match up the last third of the game,” said Manager Alex Cora. “We feel, going into each game, that if we get 18 outs out of the rotation, out of the starter, we can go different ways there, like if we have lefties or we feel like the four-seamer works better with certain matchups or a sinker or a slider.”

Bottom line, the impact of J.D. Martinez, resurgence of Hanley Ramirez and all-around production from the lineup has meant a great deal, as has the defense. But, in the end, it all starts with the starters.

“Like I said my last start, you can make a mistake and not be totally burned by it. We have the confidence in our guys to score runs at any given time, and our defense has been off the charts,” Sale said.

“You put that all together it makes it a lot easier on the starting staff to go out there and just throw strikes and do what we’ve got to do to win games.”