The Red Sox are hustling their way into August and there are a few tidbits to look at on the way. Just who may help that run for the division?
The Red Sox Eduardo Rodriguez is a baseball answer to the Al Capp cartoon character Joe Btfsplk who had a black cloud forever following him around. Where Joe went misfortune followed, but for Rodriguez, it is a string of bad luck.
A few years back a simple twist of the knee in spring training eventually magnified to where Rodriguez underwent knee surgery. The latest misfortune is an inopportune baseball collision resulting in a significant ankle sprain. E-Rod may be out until September, but that black cloud may call it a season for Rodriguez.
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Just how do the Red Sox compensate for the sudden dents in the rotation? Brian Johnson undoubtedly will settle into a rotation slot, but the rest is questionable. The Red Sox and willing to add payroll, but payroll is just one part. What do you give to get? I like Mike Fiers as a possibility, but the key may be a disappointing Drew Pomeranz. Pomeranz had an excellent rehab start and may get his shot and soon after tossing 69 pitches.
Will the run production continue? As long as Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, Andrew Benintendi, and Xander Bogaerts remain upright this offense will click. The real secret sauce is if Jackie Bradley suddenly gets on a JBJ-like hot streak. And quite possibly Rafael Devers joining Bradley in elevating his offense.
The Red Sox do have a few hidden gems this season that certainly have added some threats to opposing pitchers. Brock Holt has returned to pre-injury form. Holt has been particularly potent against lefties. Add Steve Pearce as a fine replacement for Hanley Ramirez. Pearce has had a checkered career but seems to be just in the right spot at the right time.
If you told me two months ago I would have more confidence in Matt Barnes than Joe Kelly I would have your meds reevaluated. But that is what is happening as Barnes has given up only one home run, but has a nasty 4.5 BB/9. That is mitigated by a 13.3 K/9.
Tyler Thornburg carries a dismal 5.40 ERA in just 3.1 innings. Do you value metrics? If so – a 1.35 FIP lessens that a tad. Manager Alex Cora has judiciously used Thornburg and his patience may turn in some nice August dividends.
Hector Velazquez may have a misleading stat line with a 2.66 ERA, but his value is as a multiple-innings bullpen savior. Velazquez may walk a pitching tightrope, but he accomplishes much even with a bit of doubt on a 6-0 record. The righty may be the unsung hero of the bullpen.
As Kelly’s stock has crashed that of veteran right-hander Ryan Brasier has risen. Another reclamation project that has had positive results. Granted it is still early and Brasier may crash. The same certainly can apply to Brandon Workman who – like Brasier – can pitch multiple innings. With the nicks and dents to the rotation, multiple innings is a much-needed.
The Red Sox should easily win 100+ games this season. The real issue is the division and that means the Yankees. No matter how that plays out Boston should be an easy choice for the playoffs, but it is always beneficial to miss the one and out game.