Red Sox trade deadline acquisitions play key role in ending losing streak

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - AUGUST 15: Kyle Schwarber #18 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after hitting a double against the Baltimore Orioles during the sixth inning at Fenway Park on August 15, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - AUGUST 15: Kyle Schwarber #18 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after hitting a double against the Baltimore Orioles during the sixth inning at Fenway Park on August 15, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Red Sox are getting key contributions from trade deadline acquisitions

For all the flak the Boston Red Sox have gotten for what they did ahead of last month’s trade deadline, their four key pickups each played integral roles in Friday night’s 6-0 shutout victory over the Rangers at Fenway Park to snap a three-game losing streak.

First, let’s start with Friday’s starter in Chris Sale. Yes, the Red Sox technically did not trade for Sale considering he has been with the club since 2017, but the timing of his return from Tommy John surgery mirrors that of a trade deadline acquisition.

After impressing against the Orioles in his 2021 debut last weekend, Sale was solid once more on Friday, as the ace left-hander kept the Rangers off the scoreboard while scattering just five hits and one walk to go along with five strikeouts over five innings of work.

Through his first two starts of the season, Sale has posted a 1.80 ERA, a 3.47 FIP, and a dazzling 13:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 10 total innings pitched thus far. The Sox are 2-0 when the 32-year-old hurler takes the mound for them, so it would appear as though he has provided some stability to a starting rotation that was in need of it.

Next, let’s turn to a pair of relievers Boston actually traded for who were responsible for the sixth and seventh innings of Friday’s win immediately following Sale.

Hansel Robles, who was acquired from the Twins in exchange for pitching prospect Alex Scherff, got the call out of the Boston bullpen for the top half of the sixth. The veteran right-hander walked the first batter he faced, but followed that by sitting down the next three Rangers in order to retire the side.

In striking out one over his lone frame of work, Robles lowered his ERA on the season down to 5.08. The 31-year-old out of the Dominican got his Red Sox tenure off to a shaky start by allowing five runs in his first four appearances with the club during their tumultuous road trip earlier this month, but has bounced back nicely as of late.

Including Friday’s performance, Robles has not allowed an earned run while holding opposing hitters to a .143/.400/.214 clip over his last four outings that span four innings out of the bullpen. As indicated by that high on-base percentage, walks remain an issue for the righty, but he appears to be on an encouraging path if he can cut his walk rate down moving forward.

Austin Davis, meanwhile, got the call for the top half of the seventh inning as he took over Robles.

Acquired from the Pirates in exchange for infielder/outfielder Michael Chavis in the waning moments of the July 30 trade deadline, the 28-year-old maneuvered his way around a pair of two-out singles to put up yet another zero on the scoreboard for the Rangers.

Like Robles, Davis’ first few appearances in a Red Sox uniform were far from inspiring, as he put up a 7.71 ERA and .962 OPS against in his first 4 2/3 innings of work with Boston.

Lately, though, the left-hander has looked much sharper on the mound considering the fact his last three outings have all been scoreless.

Since making his Red Sox debut on July 31, Davis has been one of 18 left-handed relievers in the American League to pitch at least seven innings. Among those 18 southpaws, the California native ranks first in FIP (1.67), second in xFIP (2.64), fifth in strikeout percentage (28.6%), and second in strikeouts per nine innings (12.3), per FanGraphs.

Davis also ranks first among that group of relievers in BABIP — or Batting Average on Balls in Play (.500), which would seem to indicate that the lefty has been a victim of poor luck more than anything since coming over from the Pirates.

Lastly, we have Kyle Schwarber, who continued to show why he is one of the best in the game when it comes to getting on base on Friday night.

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Schwarber, who the Red Sox acquired from the Nationals for pitching prospect Aldo Ramirez, went 2-for-2 with a double, a run scored, and a pair of walks while batting cleanup in Friday’s win over the Rangers.

The 28-year-old slugger initially began his Red Sox tenure on the injured list on account of a right hamstring strain he suffered in early July, but has truly excelled since returning to action on August 13.

Through his first five games with the Sox, Schwarber is slashing a sizzling .462/.611/.692 with three doubles, five walks, four runs scored, and three strikeouts over 18 plate appearances.

While his first home run in a Red Sox uniform remains elusive at the moment, one has to figure it will come sooner rather than later considering Schwarber’s role with Boston will presumably expand once he takes the field defensively for the first time.

So, with all that being said, the likes of Sale, Robles, Davis, and Schwarber have — for the most part — contributed to the Red Sox’ cause since the calendar flipped to August.

Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale is still sharpening his tools. dark. Next

Based off these early returns, it looks like chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. may have done a better job of adding at the deadline than what they have gotten credit for, though much can change with more than six weeks of regular season baseball remaining.