The Boston Red Sox clinched the A.L. East on September 20 for the third year in a row, and the second time in a row at Yankee Stadium. It was their 104th win of the season, which put them one away from tying their single season record for wins. It has been a special season filled with strong bats, dominant arms, walk-offs and a lot of damage.
The Sox have been unbeatable for much of the year, and a lot of that is thanks to skipper Alex Cora. The Sox brought in Cora during the offseason to freshen up the clubhouse with a younger guy who could relate to the players. Cora has done a magnificent job as a first-year manager, and the players have taken a liking to him and his managing style.
Another huge contributor for the Sox this season is J.D Martinez. General manager Dave Dombrowski signed him this offseason to a 5-year/$110 million contract. Many Sox fans were skeptical of this signing, and it even seemed the organization was timid about him. Giancarlo Stanton was nabbed by the Yankees a few months earlier to a massive contract, and no one thought Martinez could produce Stanton-like numbers. But boy, were we wrong. Martinez is having a career year, and is currently in the Triple Crown race with 41 home runs, 124 RBIs and a whopping .331 batting average. He ranks in the top two in the A.L. in each of these categories. Surprisingly, Martinez has performed much better than Stanton this year, who has struck out 200 times; he has really made Boston his home.
Outfielder Mookie Betts is also having an MVP-caliber season. He has been fantastic at the plate as well as on the field. He is the only player in A.L. single season history to have 40 doubles, 30 home runs, 20 stolen bases and an OPS greater than 1.000. He and Martinez are at the top of the A.L. MVP list and have powered the Red Sox all year.
Starting pitching has been another focal point of their season. Chris Sale is putting up Cy Young numbers and has made batters look foolish at times. He has a 1.92 ERA and has 222 strikeouts this season.
David Price has also been great after the All-Star break. Despite his fortnite carpal tunnel incident, he has the A.L.’s best ERA since the halfway mark of the season.
However, all these wins and regular season accolades do not matter unless the Red Sox can do something in the postseason. In the past two years, they have won the A.L. East Division, but lost in the A.L.D.S. thanks to abysmal performances. The regular season wins do not trans- late into postseason play for Boston. In 2001, the Seattle Mariners won 116 games, the most all time, and lost in the A.L.C.S. Sox fans, do not book a trip to the World Series just yet.
The main concern with this team in the postseason is the bullpen. As a unit, they rank eighth in the MLB with a staff 3.58 ERA, but if you have watched any games, you would notice the bullpen’s weakness. There is not one reliable pitcher in that bullpen that the Sox can put in a high pressure situation in the playoffs. It’s that simple. The Red Sox don’t have a single guy I trust, much less the six or seven guys that need to be reliable. Someone needs to step up in October and get outs in the game as a 7th or 8th inning reliever.
Another cause for concern is Red Sox starting pitchers past performances in the playoffs. Although David Price and Chris Sale have been tossing gems during the regular season, their postseason resumé is not nearly as impressive. Chris Sale has only pitched in the postseason twice, both last year for the Red Sox. He picked up two losses, pitching only 9.2 total innings and allowing 13 hits and nine runs. David Price is already known for his playoff woes; his numbers are almost laughable in postseason baseball. He is 2-8 with a 5.03 ERA. So far, it seems that the Red Sox paid this man $217 million to choke in the playoffs. The Red Sox need Price’s regular season stats to win a World Series this year.
Although there are glaring concerns with the Red Sox, they still have managed to win over 100 games. Their offense looks overpowering, and when starting pitching is on, no one can beat them. They look poised to make a World Series run under new skipper Alex Cora.
“The goal is clear. We’ve got 11 games to win in October,” said Cora after the clinching game.
And the Sox will look to do just that.
Contact Cam Cobey at [email protected]