Despite two weekends of mostly disastrous games, it seems as though the Sox are back on track. Though they’ve only won 1/3 in this weekend’s Bronx series, they still have a pretty strong first place standing, 3.5 games ahead of the Yankees, and I’m just going to stop talking about that before I jinx something.
So as I repeatedly knock on wood, I’m going to say that it’s time to start talking postseason. We still have about a month of regular games to go, but the Red Sox have been above .500 and in first place for the majority of the second half of the season, save for a four day period when the Yankees temporarily held the top spot.
As it stands, the Red Sox are in pretty good shape. Andrew Benintendi is the AL Rookie of the Month of August, Hanley Ramirez homered in three games this week, and Pedroia is coming back from a stint on the DL. Chris Sale and Drew Pomeranz have a combined record 29-11 this year. But a postseason seems far more daunting without the power of David Ortiz’s bat, which means the Red Sox will be relying on both their bullpen and bats to pick up the slack. Let’s start with the starters the Sox will be looking at to come up big in October…
Chris Sale was undoubtedly our biggest get of the preseason, and for the most part, he has lived up to the massive hype. He’s had 17 games with 10 or more (often it’s twelve or thirteen) K’s so far this month, surpassing Pedro’s 15-game season in 2000, and dangerously close to beating his 1999 games, the current franchise record. On Tuesday night against Toronto, he recorded his 1500thcareer strikeout in only1290 career innings pitched, a new MLB record. Sale is obviously a fan favorite, not because he’s particularly fun or lively, but because he’s so damn good.
Potential Postseason Problem: Chris Sale has struggled against the Cleveland Indians since his days as a White Sock, and he allowed seven runs in only three innings in their faceoff last week. If the two teams continue on their current trajectories, it’ll be a Red Sox – Indians ALDS, and with higher stakes, we’ll need a dominant Chris Sale more than ever.
Conclusion: Sale’s raw talent is virtually unmatched, but his nerves clearly need some work if he’s going to help us get past the division series.
David Price has been on the DL since late July, but is starting to get back into a routine, throwing a 29-pitch bullpen today that impressed manager Farrell.
Potential Postseason Problem: Where do I even begin? Oh, 2013. David Price was Tampa Bay’s ace when the Sox were in their B-Strong season, but he didn’t fare so well, especially against Big Papi, though, most pitchers didn’t. In Game 2 of the ALDS, he gave up 7 runs, all earned, on 9 hits – 2 HR to Ortiz- and 2 walks. Fast-forward to last season when he was already playing for Boston, and he choked again, this time against the Indians. Price allowed 5 runs on 65 pitches over just 3 1/3 innings against the Tribe.
Conclusion: he can’t pitch against us, and he can’t pitch for us. Use him for late-inning relief at most.
After a slow start to the season due to a stem cell injection procedure, “Big Smooth” is exceeding everyone’s expectations by miles, going 14-5 with a 3.36 ERA.
Potential Postseason Problem: Despite previous tenures in Colorado, Oakland, and San Diego, this would only be Pomeranz’s second postseason run, the first being last year’s quick 2016 ALDS play when he played a reliever role.
Conclusion: He’s our second-best starter this season, and with Chris Sale failing tremendously against the Indians and Yankees this week, we need =Dwew in fighting form.
Doug Fister has been dominant in almost every outing since joining the Sox on July 23rd. In this week’s game, he gave up back-to-back leadoff doubles but then settled in and held the Yankees to only two more hits over seven innings. Yankees pitcher Sonny Gray didn’t fare nearly as well. With nine seasons in the MLB, Fister is a veteran with poise and postseason experience. He pitched Game 2 of the 2012 World Series, holding the Giants to one run over six innings AFTER getting hit in the head by a line drive by Gregor Blanco. In nine postseason games and eight starts, he’s got a 2.60 ERA.
Potential Postseason Problem: He’s new to the team. I can’t really think of anything else, honestly.
Conclusion: I’d much rather have a pitcher who can pitch effectively under pressure (and with potential head trauma, to boot) than a pitcher who starts verbal altercations with the press and can’t perform in the postseason. As Rob Bradford said this week, ‘he’s no longer a fill-in.”
PorCYllo – as the Red Sox have nicknamed him – hasn’t quite lived up to that Cy Young Award he won last year, but I don’t really think anyone is shocked about it. For the most part, he’s back to pitching the way we all assumed he would be, nothing to write home about, as my grandmother would say. Hopefully, he can hold down the fort in a few postseason games with some help from the offense.
Potential Postseason Problem: He’s a seasoned postseason vet, but he’s never actually posted a win.
Conclusion: Eh? I won’t get my hopes up with this guy. The most we can hope for is that he doesn’t completely blow a game.
ERod is, quite frankly, not great. Since coming back from his knee injury in 2016, he hasn’t been the same pitcher who began his major league career with three starts of at least six innings with one or zero earned runs allowed and at least seven strikeouts. After spending part of last season in Pawtucket, he’s 4-5 this year and his lackluster performance is the catalyst for the whole Price/Eck fiasco.
Potential Postseason Problem: He’s on this list because we need starters. We don’t want him because he gives up runs and just isn’t great. To quote Dennis Eckersley, “yuck.”
Conclusion: He hasn’t won a game since May 26. Do I really need to say more?