Now that the Boston Red Sox have presumably made all their major moves, what should be our realistic expectations for the rest of this season?
It’s become ever so clear over the last couple of weeks, the Boston Red Sox want to win now. The idea of being a lower tier team in order to, in a few seasons, be back competing for a title does not sit well with the fans. That’s sports in Boston, there’s no such thing as a rebuild. That’s why the Red Sox brought in notorious trade-master Dave Dombrowski, and why in 2011 they were unable to keep Theo Epstein.
That doesn’t mean it’s always the right decision and path to take (as we have seen over the past few seasons), but it is the one Red Sox fans have to live with. And so, what should we expect- should we start believing this season could really amount to something?
There are a lot of question marks still on this team. Even after Dave Dombrowski addressed Boston’s most glaring needs by bringing in Aaron Hill, Brad Ziegler, and Drew Pomeranz. One might have thought the addition of those players would have sured up this roster that currently sits in 2nd place.
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First off, Boston’s postseason hopes, for the most part, still fall on the shoulders of a hobbled 40-year-old DH. And, by no means is that a shot at David Ortiz, but how much the Red Sox still rely on Big Papi. While he has been tremendous up until this point in the season, there remains many natural concerns about his health, and it seems as if his feet bother him more by the game.
Secondly, the Red Sox rotation as is currently constituted.
David Price, the teams $217 million ace, has an ERA of 5.12 in 6 postseasons. And, he has struggled more in recent years, in 3 of his last 4 postseasons he posted an ERA of 5.40, 7.20, and 9.00, respectively.
Then there’s Steven Wright, the real ace for the Red Sox this season, who is a knuckleballer with no playoff experience. And, not to be the bearer of bad news, but knuckleball pitchers have difficulty in October. Whether it’s just the cold, or whatever it is that contributes to it, the fact is, even the great Tim Wakefield labored. In 9 postseasons, Wakefield had an ERA of 6.75, and in 2004 he struggled to the tune of 8.59 in the ALCS and 12.27 in the World Series.
And, what about the recently acquired Pomeranz, another pitcher with no postseason experience. Pomeranz has done very well this season, and even looking back as far as 2014 he has put up solid numbers. But, the lefty is often injured and heading further into uncharted waters every time he takes the mound. That is because, Pomeranz has never thrown more innings than what he has already, halfway through this season. It’s fair to wonder just how taxed his arm would be after its first full season, and heading into the playoffs.
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Not to mention, pitch-tipping Eduardo Rodriguez who started this season with injury, and now being healthy, has struggled to keep his place in the rotation.
Or Rick Porcello, who in 0.0 innings pitched for Detroit in the 2013 postseason, gave up three hits a run and earned the loss against Boston. Porcello has also seemingly struggled every other game recently, giving up 4, 4, 4, 5, 4 and 5 runs, since May 17th.
I guess there’s always Clay Buchholz.
Thirdly, there’s the Red Sox bullpen. I’d like to think this is a strength of theirs, especially after the Koji show in 2013. But, Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa have been greatly overused in recent years and aren’t getting any younger. Furthermore, Craig Kimbrel, the new bullpen anchor who was brought in during the off-season, struggles mightily in high-pressure situations.
The addition of Ziegler should certainly help add depth, but he has also had limited postseason exposure, and what he does have was down-right horrible. In 0.1 innings pitched in 2011 NLDS, Ziegler gave up four earned runs on four hits to go along with two walks.
And that brings us to my final thought. The Red Sox still have John Farrell at the helm, and that should be cause for concern, not just for the rest of the regular season, but also their playoff hopes and chances. Whether it’s managing the bullpen, or pinch-hitting and running, this manager consistently makes questionable decisions late in games. The prospect of a tight game and having to rely on Farrell to outmaneuver the likes of Yost, Bochy, Matheny, or Maddon, does not bode well for the Sox.
That being said, the Red Sox are in second place. And it is very reasonable to think with these recent additions to the roster, they could hold that position and even improve it over the remainder of the season. And, when it comes to the post season, if Ortiz is healthy they have a fighting chance against just about anyone.