This isn’t because I’m all giddy after a couple wins against the Yankees either. This Red Sox team has something. It’s a variable that a lot of people haven’t taken into consideration recently.
On Monday night (7/30), the Red Sox recorded their 75th victory against the Phillies on a Blake Swihart walk-off hit (ground rule double) that drove in Eduardo Nunez. The Sox lead the major leagues with a 77-34 record (.694 win %.) Some consider this to be the most important week in the 2018 season and a lot of people are expected to join the bandwagon soon.
Weeks ago, I was down on this team but now I feel they are capable of at least winning a round in the playoffs. The chemistry that this team has is incredible and the team has shown more signs of life recently. First year manager Alex Cora is really getting this ballclub to play well.
Bitten by the injury bug, this team could have easily taken their foot off the gas pedal. However, this team has done anything but. It’s an exciting time to be a Red Sox fan.
The biggest weakness of this Red Sox team is their bullpen. Some say putting starting pitchers into the bullpen during the playoffs would be a wise move. Guys like David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Drew Pomeranz. The 2017 Houston Astros used that approach and it boded well for them.
The Red Sox currently do not have a reliable 8th inning arm. The role has been passed around to Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly, and others this season but not one player has been consistently good in that role. Closer Craig Kimbrel doesn’t respond well coming into games before the 9th inning either.
With recent additions of Steve Pearce, Nathan Eovaldi, and Ian Kinsler, Dave Dombrowski is sure as hell trying to do his part to put a championship roster together. Eovaldi made his first start on Sunday and pitched 7 innings allowing 4 hits alongside 5 strikeouts. Eovaldi has a live fastball that tops out in the high 90’s and throws a nasty slider to right handed batters. He is for sure an arm that can be useful come playoff time.
On Tuesday night the Sox lost to the Phillies 3-1 at Fenway in a game in which Jake Arrieta pitched very well. Arrieta had a 7 inning, 7 strikeout type of night, with 6 hits and one earned run. Tommy Hunter and Seranthony Dominguez came out of the bullpen for the Phillies and allowed zero earned runs. The lone run for the Sawx was driven in by Xander Bogaerts.
That night was the debut of Ian Kinsler who is a player who I have loved throughout his entire career. He is steady defensively, but also provides that pop for those dingers when you need one. Kinsler has a higher career WAR (Wins Above Replacement) at 57.5 than Dustin Pedroia 52.1. Kinsler also has a career .981 fielding % while Pedroia’s has a .991 career fielding %. So they are really not that far off defensively.
Pedroia is not expected to return to the Red Sox this season and frankly I want him nowhere near that team. The Sawx are doing just fine without him and his arrogant attitude. The last memory Red Sox fans will have of him is him standing on the top step of the dugout in Baltimore bitching at Matt Barnes for throwing a pitch that nearly hit Manny Machado in the head. That is all I will remember him for. After that moment, I wanted nothing to do with Pedroia.
What are the major differences about this team compared to the last two seasons though? Why do I have more trust in this team?
I really can’t put my finger on it but when they are fully healthy I think they are going to be an absolute buzzsaw. Sheesh, we just stole a game against the early AL season CY Young candidate in Luis Severino who has a had a very rough time on the mound lately.
I haven’t even mentioned Chris Sale is on the 10 day disabled list until now. The Red Sox and Alex Cora have been trying to manage his innings and pitches this season but it was to no avail. Sale is the type of pitcher with a frame that tends to break down towards the end of seasons. It’s something that should be taken into consideration when his next contract comes up.
A lot of folks were hoping we could take 3 out of 4 against the Yankees this series and now we have 2 in hand going into Saturday and Sunday. In the first game of the series, the Red Sox absolutely mashed the baseball to a 15-7 win. And, Rick Porcello went out and pitched a gem tonight to fuel the Red Sox to a 4-1 victory.
Another point of consideration is that the Red Sox have not had home field advantage in the first round of the postseason the last two seasons. This team loves playing behind that Fenway crowd and boasts a 40-15 record at home to prove it.
Please just watch and enjoy the ride. This could be one of the greatest Red Sox seasons ever and a lot of people are as not as positively invested as they should be. There’s a lot of hate-watching going on and that should stop.