At 92-70, the Boston Red Sox finished in second place in the AL East, eight games behind the division leading Tampa Bay Rays. After beating the New York Yankees in the Wild Card game, though, the Red Sox will get a chance to prove they are the kings of the AL East.
Starting Thursday, Boston will travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Rays in the first of a five-game ALDS. With that in mind, let’s take a look at why the Red Sox can not only win this series, but the World Series as well.
Entering the ALDS, the Red Sox are +360 to win the American League and +950 to win the World Series. While those are long odds compared to other playoff teams, they still have the ability to make a run at a championship this season.
Need To Overcome Struggles Against Tampa Bay
It is hard to explore the idea of whether the Red Sox can win the World Series if they can’t get by the Tampa Bay Rays. Based on the regular season, that will be no easy task.
During the regular season, the Red Sox went 8-11 against Tampa Bay. When playing at Tropicana Field, they were just 3-7.
What the Red Sox need to focus on is how they finished their head-to-head series. They won three of the last five games against Tampa Bay including the last two on the road.
Also, if they can carry over the momentum of taking down the Yankees in the Wild Card, the Red Sox could be positioned well in the ALCS.
Offense Needs To Carry Red Sox
On the offensive side, the Boston Red Sox have been one of the best teams in all of baseball. In fact, entering the postseason, they rank fifth in scoring averaging 5.12 runs per game (5.80 at Fenway Park and 4.43 on the road).
Furthermore, Boston ranks third in batting average (.261), second in slugging percentage (450), seventh in on base percentage (.329), and ninth in run differential (+84).
The leader of the Red Sox is third baseman Rafael Devers. He hit .279/.352/.538 in the regular season and led the team in home runs (38), runs batted in (113), and runs scored (101).
Boston has power all throughout the lineup. In addition to Devers, Hunter Renfroe (31), J.D. Martinez (28), Bobby Dalbec (25), Xander Bogaerts (23), and Kike Hernandez (20) all hit the 20-home run mark this season.
Speaking of J.D. Martinez, he is a bit of a wild card. In the last game of the regular season, he suffered an odd injury as he sprained his ankle on second base when running out to play defense in between innings.
As a result, Martinez had to miss the Wild Card game and is questionable for the ALCS. This season, Martinez hit .286/.349/.518 with 28 home runs, 99 runs batted in, and 92 runs scored.
While the offense has been dynamite, the defense for the Red Sox is a little more suspect. Their pitching staff ranks 15th in the majors in earned run average (4.25). In terms of scoring defense, Boston ranks 17th allowing opponents 4.61 runs per game.
Their rotation was led during the regular season by veteran Nathan Eovaldi. He was 11-9 with a 3.75 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and struck out 195 in 182.1 innings. He picked up the win in the Wild Card game, and he will look to stay dominant throughout the postseason.
Another arm to watch in the postseason is Chris Sale. Having returned late in the season from injury, Sale pitched in 42.2 innings, going 5-1 with a 3.16 ERA. If he can show that he has returned to form, it would give the Red Sox another bonafide ace.
Other contributors on the mound include Eduardo Roddriguez (13-8, 4.74 ERA), Nick Pivetta (9-8, 4.53 ERA), Martin Perez (7-8, 4.74 ERA), and Garrett Richards (7-8, 4.87 ERA).
In the bullpen, Adam Ottavino (7-3, 11 saves, 4.21 ERA), Matt Barnes (6-5, 24 saves, 3.79 ERA), and Garrett Whitlock (8-4, 2 saves, 1.96 ERA) led the team.
Area of Concern
The biggest area of concern for the Red Sox is their pitching. Having to use Chris Sale in the regular season finale and Nathan Eovaldi in the Wild Card game, Boston was unable to line up their rotation they would have liked for their ALDS against Tampa Bay.
The Rays will be the key series to get through for Boston. Not only have they struggled against Tampa Bay, but if they can make it through the ALDS, they should have an opportunity to align their rotation in a more favorable way for the ALCS.
Can They Win The World Series?
In the last 18 years, the Red Sox have won the World Series four times, and they are more than capable of winning their fifth in that span this year.
To do so, they are going to need big contributions from their offense, which also means they are going to need a healthy and productive J.D. Martinez.
They are also going to need pitchers in their rotation and bullpen to step up this postseason.
Still, half the battle in MLB is getting into the playoffs, and now that they have done that, they are definitely capable of winning it.
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