First, the good news. The Red Sox are going to make the playoffs barring some ridiculous collapse.
The bad news? It doesn’t look like they’ll stick around too long in October.
The Red Sox had that early August surge where they looked like world-beaters but it’s mostly been a boatload of blah since that point. Most have settled on “they’re good, not great” to describe the 2017 installment of Sox.
In September so far, they’re 9-6. Not horrible at all, but not exactly in Cleveland Indians territory either. Sunday’s 3-2 loss at Tampa Bay was highly frustrating in that the Sox had the opportunity to go for the jugular and complete a sweep against the Rays – and do it on a day that the Yankees lost. The Boston offense only got one hit off of Tampa Bay starter Jake Odorizzi in the loss. The Sox will see far better pitching in the postseason, which is a major cause for concern. Take last year for example, as the Sox averaged just 2.3 runs in their series loss to the Indians – and that was with David Ortiz in the heart of the order.
In their defense, the Red Sox have been putting runs on the board lately. They put up 13 in the 15-inning win over Tampa Bay last Friday night, put up 11 against the A’s last Tuesday, and recorded back-to-back nine run games on Sept. 8 and 9 against the Rays. So the Sox can bash the ball on occasion – it’s just that no one is sold that they can do it three or four times in the span of a playoff series.
In their most impressive nine-inning offensive game recently - the aforementioned 11-1 win over Oakland at Fenway a week ago – eight of the nine players in the starting lineup recorded at least one hit (Hanley Ramirez was the lone Sox player with a goose-egg). Dustin Pedroia had three hits, Chris Young had two, Mookie Betts had three (including two homers and a triple), Xander Bogaerts had three, Christian Vazquez had two, and Jackie Bradley Jr, Rafael Devers and Sam Travis each had one hit. Aside from Betts’ proclivity to have a monster game and then be silent for a few days, the above scenario is exactly what the Red Sox want from their offense in the postseason. They’ll need contributions from the top, bottom and middle of the order for an entire month if they want to entertain winning the Commissioner’s Trophy this year.
Date with Houston?
If the playoffs began today, the Red Sox would face the Houston Astros in the American League divisional round. The Sox only played one series against Houston this season, taking two of three from the Astros in Houston in June.
The Red Sox actually shouldn’t mind seeing the Astros next month as opposed to the Indians. The Astros only have the 12th best team ERA in baseball (4.25), while the Indians are No. 1 in team ERA with a 3.35 mark. The Red Sox have the fourth best team ERA in the majors at 3.66.
Given the Sox’ struggles at the plate at times, in no way do they want to see the best staff in baseball.