Every MLB season there is a team or two who just confuses fanbases to their core, this year it is the Boston Red Sox. A team that was 8.5 games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles on June 30th is now 3 games behind them on August 15th. Except weirdly enough, the Sox have taken 2 series recently against the Houston Astros and New York Yankees, the two best teams in the AL standings.
After not winning a single series against a divisional opponent this whole season, their first was a 1 game “series” against Baltimore, before their 3 game series against the Yankees recently. So…what is going on with this team?
How can they take their strengths in games against premier teams and use them to get back into the wild card race this year? Should they even try to compete, or just bank on next year? Let’s break it down.
2022: Is there still a chance at a postseason run?
As previously mentioned, 2022 has been absolutely random for the Boston Red Sox, to put it lightly. They were not great in April and early May, very good in late May to June, and then horrible in July. This has mainly been due to their pitching rotation being on and off the roster with injuries, and various AAA prospects being called up.
Just to show you all the vast list of pitchers they have spent time without, here it is (so far): Chris Sale, Michael Wacha, Rich Hill, Garrett Whitlock, Nathan Eovaldi, Connor Seabold, Josh Winckowski, Brayan Bello, James Paxton, Hansel Robles, Matt Barnes, Matt Strahm, Tyler Danish, Tanner Houck, Josh Taylor.
All of these pitchers at some point have missed various games due to injury or covid…15 different pitchers…on 19 different occasions. Now, with that in mind, can the Red Sox make a postseason run with most of these pitchers returning in the near future?
As of right now the Sox are 4.5 games out of a Wild Card spot, behind the Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins, and Baltimore Orioles as teams who are also not holding a spot. Considering how strong the AL East is currently, there would have to be a dropoff by Baltimore or Tampa Bay to give Boston a shot at one of those spots.
Is it doable is the question? With how the team performed against the Yankees in the last series, there may be hope. The pitching held the NYY to 5 runs in the 3 game series, and outscored them 8-5 in that span.
If the Sox can get Kike Hernandez back into shape quickly, as he will be returning this Tuesday for the series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, this will help without a doubt. Bringing some more consistency to an outfield that has been struggling at times is definitely worth noting.
The odds that the Sox can make the playoffs are still pretty high, despite being last in the division. Since it is such a small gap between them and the current Wild Card holding Tampa Bay Rays, it is doable.
So they could make it…but will they?
Statistics and records out of the way, is the product we see on the field from Boston enough to make a playoff run? Currently, absolutely not. With struggles against teams like the Kansas City Royals, they are going to have to fix issues like that before making a push.
The next 4 series will be extremely telling for how they will perform in the remainder of the season. Firstly, the Pittsburgh Pirates, at 45-70 they should hypothetically be an easy set of wins for the Sox if they don’t blow it. After that, they have 3 series against the 3 teams ahead of them in the division, with the Orioles, Blue Jays, and Rays, which will be telling as to whether or not they can raise up in this division and finally start beating their rivals.
I would say there is about a 50/50 chance of the Sox making the postseason right now. However, if they can take the majority of games in these next 4 series? The chances definitely skew in favor of Boston, as these upcoming games are enormously important for the fringe playoff team.
Regardless, we should get a good idea as to how the Red Sox look in the next few weeks, which in turn will give us a good idea on if they are actual competitors or not.
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