We’re almost 40 games into the 2017 MLB season and the Red Sox are decidedly average.
The overwhelming favorite in the AL East to start the year, the Sox are looking up at the Yankees - of all teams - and the Orioles in the division standings. The lowly Rays aren’t all that far behind them.
There’s obviously still an enormous amount of baseball left to be played, but if the Sox do finish stuck in the middle – it will be a much different script than we’ve seen in the past five years. Since 2012, the Sox have either finished dead last or first in the division.
The Sox went 13-11 in the month of April this year and are 7-7 so far in May. The pitching has been relatively strong. The offense has been relatively weak. But expect that to flip soon. The Sox’ pitching is not as good as its shown – top to bottom – so far and the Sox’ lineup is not as bad as it’s shown so far.
We have seen small signs of change lately – particularly in the order. Mookie Betts has been reinvigorated since returning to the leadoff spot and was named American League Player of the Week last week. He hit .375 and drove in 11 runs during the seven day period and has continued his hot streak this week. He drove in a pair of runs Wednesday in the Sox’ 6-3 victory over the Cardinals in St. Louis. Also driving in runs in that one was Christian Vazquez, who is hitting .345 this season, and Dustin Pedroia, who has a .285 average on the year. Jackie Bradley Jr. also had an RBI in the victory, but he has been wholly disappointing at the plate this year – owning a .200 batting average.
The Sox will begin a four-game series with the A’s in Oakland on Thursday before returning home to face the Rangers for three games at Fenway starting next Tuesday. Oakland is arguably the worst team in the American League right now as it owns a record of 17-22 and has a run differential of minus-41.
Hector Velazquez, a 28-year-old righty, got the call to come up from Pawtucket to start Thursday’s series opener against the A’s.
Chris Sale (4-2, 2.15 ERA) will look to continue his torrid pace on Friday at Bobby Valentine’s favorite venue – the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Drew Pomeranz (3-3, 5.29 ERA) is expected to get the ball Saturday and Eduardo Rodriguez (2-1, 3.05 ERA) is slated to throw for the Sox on Sunday.