Though the Red Sox entered this season with high expectation, they are now fully out of contention this season and focusing their attention towards 2015. From this Friday to Sunday, they’ll head to Tampa Bay and get a chance to face the Rays: a team in a similar situation.
Just days after being named the International League’s Most Valuable Pitcher this season, Anthony Ranaudo will find himself making his third Major League start for the Boston Red Sox. He hasn’t been overly impressive through his first pair of starts, featuring a 4.50 ERA and 3:5 K:BB ratio through 12 innings. However, there’s certainly room to grow for Ranaudo and he should get a handful of starts to finish the 2014 season. On the other side, the Red Sox will face Chris Archer, who is having his second consecutive strong season for the Rays. Considering Archer’s recent success, I predict that the Rays will take this game.
Webster has not had much Major League success this season but, given the way he has dominated Triple-A, the Red Sox need to give him a chance to prove himself. If he is able to locate his pitches with more consistency, then his excellent stuff will play up and he could have success against a weak Rays lineup. The Rays will start Jake Odorizzi, who is in the midst of his first full season as a 24 year old as has performed fairly well. Once again, I expect the Rays to win this game barring a revelation from Webster.
Buchholz is coming off an excellent performance against the Toronto Blue Jays; on the whole, however, his season has been a major disappointment. Perhaps he’ll be able to string together some success to end the regular season, but facing the Rays’ best pitcher, it doesn’t seem likely that that would even be enough to win this game. Cobb has been great for the second straight season and is developing into an ace for the post-David Price Rays and I fully expect that he’ll be able to beat the Red Sox on Sunday.
In the finale of this four-game series, the Red Sox will send Rubby De La Rosa out against one of the newer Rays players. Acquired at the deadline as part of the Rays’ return for David Price, Smyly will slot in as another of the Rays’ talented young starting pitchers. The former Detroit Tiger is having the best season of his career and once again will outmatch the Red Sox and De La Rosa in the final game of the series.
From a win-loss perspective, this series may not be a great one for the Red Sox. But obviously you can’t predict baseball and, even if the Red Sox don’t have a great series, we can take enjoyment in watching some members of the future Red Sox like Mookie Betts and Christian Vazquez play on an everyday basis. Enjoy the series.