The Boston Red Sox are arguably the hottest team in baseball and do not look to be slowing down. Winners of 11 of its past 13 games, the Sox are rolling, but there are still some fatal flaws that could derail the team’s October aspirations.
Unfortunately for the Red Sox, many of the fatal flaws fans have been worried about have reared their ugly heads even in this winning stretch. Between mental lapses on the basepaths, a bullpen that is shakier than number indicate, and severe struggles from the young core, the team has deep holes that have been overlooked.
First and foremost, through Saturday, the Red Sox have been thrown out 66 times on the basepaths, 15 more times than any other team in the league. Furthermore, this number has not occurred by accident, manager John, as called by David Price, has emphasized “aggressive” baserunning to make up for a lack of power, but this strategy has been not only frustrating, but also detrimental for team. Look no further than the worse loss of the year that happened Friday night in the Bronx. After the Red Sox blew a 3-0 lead in the 8th inning, the team showed fight loading the bases only to have all momentum lost when Eduardo Nunez was thrown out at third base trying to tag up on a sacrifice fly. Running into outs is never a good recipe for winning baseball games, but the rate at which the Red Sox are doing it is unbelievable for a team looking to win games in October.
The Sox bullpen in 2017 has been excellent having the third lowest ERA in the majors; however, the pen seems like fool’s gold as many fans do not have faith in the pen despite the stellar numbers. New addition Addison Reed has a 10.38 and it appears that John Farrell has already lost confidence in the former closer after trying to pull him off the mound after throwing one ball to Jacoby Ellsbury. Other key reliever Matt Barnes owns an ungodly 5.20 ERA on the road, and Joe Kelly hasn’t looked like himself since coming off the DL. Outside of Kimbrel, Kelly, Barnes, and Reed are the most important relievers, and do sox fans really have any faith in Blaine Boyer, Robby Scott, and Heath Hembree. Finally, although Craig Kimbrel has been stellar, I still worry about him in the postseason because he can not be used as a weapon like Andrew Miller was last year. There have been many occasions where Kimbrel could have came into a game in the 7th or 8th inning in a high leverage situation but was not used. In the playoffs when games are shortened and the bullpen is necessary, can Kimbrel be a force who can come in any situation? That remains to be seen.
Now looking at the final obstacle in the Red Sox way to postseason success, the lineup is not where it needs to be. While the recent contributions of Nunez, Devers, and Benintendi have been tremendous, we can not realistically expect them to continue this. Young All Stars Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts have been downright awful in the second half. Betts is batting .236 since July, and .217 in August. Bogaerts has been even worse owning a .206 average with only 3 RBI in the second half. While Betts and Bogaerts have had the most startling struggles, Hanley Ramirez and Mitch Moreland have not been pulling their weight, and Dustin Pedroia is on the disabled list.
Overall, while there seems to be some hope for this Sox team, put your foot on the break because there are some ugly trends that are continuing to show with this team.