1: Starting Pitching
The Boston Red Sox have something this year that they haven’t in a while; they have stellar pitching. Chris Sale has posted another Cy Young caliber year, which is what is expected of him. David Price has been surprisingly efficient, pitching like he did when he was in Detroit. Rick Porcello is pitching possibly the best of his career, posting a record a 17-7. Eduardo Rodriguez is posting his best year ever, with a 12-4 record and a 3.53 ERA. And lastly, Nathan Eovaldi. He is their only weakness, posting a 5-7 record, but even he can give you a solid 6/7 innings. So, what’s wrong with it? Their postseason pitching stats. Eovaldi has no postseason experience, so that alone is scary. Chris Sale is 0-2 with an 8.38 ERA in the postseason. David Price is 2-8 with a 5.03 ERA in the postseason. Lastly, Rick Porcello is 0-3 with a 5.47 ERA in the postseason. The postseason pitching stats do not work in the Red Sox favor.
2: Relief Pitching
Probably the one thing Boston does not have is relief pitching. They are the one contender in the AL (Indians, Athletics, Yankees, Astros) that does not have a consistent bullpen. If their starters continue their trend of sucking in the postseason, the early exit is inevitable. Craig Kimbrel, their closer, is posting a 2.29 ERA. That is not exactly what you want from your closer. Their setup man, Joe Kelly, has a 4.45 ERA. Since All-Star break, the Red Sox have blown 12 out of 24 save opportunities. Before All Star Break, they only blew 6. Their bullpen is resorting back to the way it was the last two seasons in the postseason. With an inexperienced manager, Alex Cora, expect the Sox bullpen and Cora to be under scrutiny, especially if they lose quickly.
One thing the Boston Red Sox have avoided all year, unlike the Yankees. Boston has had their share of minimal injuries, which could potentially be alarming. Chris Sale, Boston’s ace, has been placed on the DL twice in the last month and a half with shoulder soreness. Both Sale and Red Sox manager, Alex Cora, play if off as precautionary. But, going into the postseason with the potential of him re-injuring his shoulder or him not being 100%, should scare every Red Sox fan, especially with him being the only reliable piece of their rotation. Another person to keep an eye on, is Mookie Betts. Betts, arguably the AL MVP, is playing by far his best year. Hitting .334 with 29 HR, Betts is a must have in the lineup. But, on June 1st, Betts went to the DL. He came back quickly and claims that it won’t affect his play, but on September 16, he re-injured his side and has been in and out of the lineup since. But maybe it is affecting Betts more than he claims. In fact, in his last 30 games, Betts has hit only .272 with 2HR. So, that is something to keep an eye on for the postseason.
4: Red Sox History
Let’s face it, the Red Sox have been killing it since they broke their curse in 2004, but what have they done recently? In the past 5 years, they have won one game in the postseason. So what, this team is different? True, but what happened those years? Pitching. Pitching killed the Red Sox. In 2016, they were projected to win it all, but they got swept in the ALDS. In 2017, they were projected to win it all, but they lost 3-1 to the Astros in the ALDS. In order for this team to be different, they cannot give up 8 runs a game like they did in 2017, with essentially the same pitching staff. They can’t score less than 3 runs a game with a top offense, like they did in 2016. And, they have to have a better than a .143 win percentage. Another thing to be worried about, Mookie Betts, the AL MVP, has never recorded a postseason RBI. In fact, Betts, has only hit .269 in postseason history. The Red Sox have to play the same baseball that they play throughout the year. It does not matter if you win 110 games in the regular season. You have to win 11 in October for people to remember you.
The Red Sox will have to play either the Athletics or the Yankees in the ALDS. They are 2-4 against Oakland this year, with a -5 run differential. They are 9-7 against the Yankees with a +14 run differential. If I am a Red Sox fan, I am rooting very hard for the Athletics. The Yankees are 11-8 against the Red Sox in the postseason, while the Athletics are 14-10 against them. But, with the Yankees getting healthy and their pitching finally finding their groove, I do not think there is a scarier team in baseball right now.