Of particular interest are the match ups that would most and least benefit the Red Sox, which just so happens to match up pretty nicely with my take on what the Sox would need to do (or not do as the case may be) to optimize their chances. So here’s a few scenarios that can put the Sox in the driver’s seat.
Avoid A Team Whose Name Starts With The Letter T
First and foremost, the Sox should hope that the stars align and the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays end up squaring off against one another. The Red Sox match up poorly against both teams.
In Yu Darvish (14 Ks against the Sox in a loss earlier this year) and Derek Holland (nasty against Boston), Texas has their own dual gun slingers that could easily get the Sox in a big hole quick. Better to have Tampa Bay and Texas beat on one another and possibly wear out the Tigers while the Red Sox…
Win The Division, Win The Division, Win The Division
Do you want to see Boston in a one-game, winner take all play-in game? Yeah, I thought so. Winning the division is essential but perhaps not winning home field advantage is the best of both worlds for the Sox. As Tomase points out, “The postseason is about matchups, and if the A’s win the West, they represent the best first-round matchup for the Sox, since their offense is pedestrian. If the Rangers take the West, however, then the Sox may as well take their chances with the winner of a hypothetical wild card matchup between the Rangers and Rays.”
Play Oakland In a Divisional Series
Oakland’s offense, number nine in the majors, simply can’t contend with Boston’s ability to pile up runs. Add to that the fact their best pitcher, Bartolo Colon, is on the DL with a groin injury – something which the elder statesman may not completely bounce back from this year – and the lack of lefty that usually ties Boston’s bats into pretzels and you’ve got a match made in Fenway heaven.
With that being said, you never know what’s going to happen. The best Boston can do in September is do what they’ve done all season long with few breaks; win series. If they take care of business against a host of divisional rivals down the stretch they can at the very least avoid a play-in game or potentially end up draw either Texas in the first round.