In 42 days, the MLB postseason will begin with or without the Red Sox.

The odds say that the Sox (69-54) will indeed be playing playoff baseball, given their recent stretch of winning 8-of-10 games and their place atop the Wild Card standings (two games up as of Monday afternoon). They’re also very much alive in the race for the division crown as they were behind the Blue Jays (70-54) by just a half game as of Monday.

The Sox would be wise to clean up against the lowly Rays (52-70) in St. Pete this week if they have plans of distancing themselves from Toronto and Baltimore (67-56).

It wouldn’t hurt either if the Sox started to get contributions from players who have underachieved to this point in the season. Clay Buchholz (4-9, 5.42 ERA) has shown signs of improvement of late as he pitched six innings in Detroit against the Tigers last week and allowed just one earned run on six hits. Buchholz will get the start Tuesday as he throws in place of Steven Wright, who is still nursing a shoulder injury. Wright is expected to be back in the Sox’ rotation this coming weekend at Fenway against the Royals.

Rick Porcello (17-3, 3.22 ERA) is set to pitch tomorrow against Tampa Bay and Drew Pomeranz (10-9, 2.95 ERA) will close out the road trip for the Sox on Thursday.