With the MLB-All Star Game now behind us, the Boston Red Sox must look towards the “second half” of the season and try to bounce back from their poor 95-game start.
A lot went down during the first half that Red Sox Nation would like to forget. But as of July 16, Boston sits eight games out of the second wildcard spot and 9.5 games behind the Baltimore Orioles for the American League East. The odds are not forever in their favor, but hope is not all lost.
August and September will feature a much different lineup than what the club has put out this season, which definitely isn’t a bad thing. Christian Vazquez and Mookie Betts will get every opportunity to play, while the likes of Grady Sizemore and A.J. Pierzynski are a faint memory. David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia are still close to themselves, while Mike Napoli is rounding into form after coming off the disabled list.
If the offense can get out of the bottom-third in the league, there’s a chance the Red Sox can play .550 ball until the end of the season, which would give them at least a smidgen of a chance to make it to the fall season.
Clay Buchholz‘s return gives the rotation a tremendous 1-2 punch with Jon Lester throwing the way he has in 2014. The hottest rumor is that Lester may hit the open market after the year and that an extension won’t be worked out by season’s end. If Lester continues to pitch at this level, Ben Cherington should start ordering more checks to send to the Lester household.
Jake Peavy and John Lackey need combine for roughly 150 innings of 4.00 ERA baseball and all of a sudden the rotation looks as scary as it did in 2013. And the bullpen, what is there to say outside of the top three guys in Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, and Craig Breslow. Well not much, but overall the ‘pen has kept the Red Sox in games and they are last to blame for what has occurred in this title-defense year.
All-in-all the pieces are there for the Sox to compete for the final playoff spot, but it is more likely the BoSox will be watching them from home. It’s OK though, a one-year grace period is warranted…at least at this point in the year.