Red Sox Have a Pivotal Road Ahead

Jul 9, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts (50) hits a single during the fifth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 9, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts (50) hits a single during the fifth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /

The Boston Red Sox finished this weekend’s series against the Kansas City Royals on Sunday Night Baseball with a 10-4 loss, and now stand 2 games behind the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL East.

The Boston Red Sox currently stand in the lead of the American League Wild Card race with a 3 game league over the Detroit Tigers. With a 72-58 record, the Red Sox are in great position to make the dance come October, but have a real important stretch in the month of September to finish out the 2016 regular season.

With just 32 games to end the 2016 regular season for the Red Sox, 26 of them come against AL East opponents, starting with the Tampa Bay Rays coming to town for a 3-game set starting Monday night.

This stretch comes at a pivotal time, as the top three teams in the AL East (TOR,BOS,BAL) are all within three games of each other. Not to mention 19 of the last 32 games are on the road, where as of recent the Red Sox haven’t had great success.

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Fortunately for the Red Sox, the offense has been nothing short of spectacular this season. Led by

MVP-candidate OF Mookie Betts

and long time Sox great DH

David Ortiz

, this lineup can all hit 1 thru 9 and it has been sickening at points this season. The Red Sox continue lead the league in just about every important offensive statistical category including batting average, on-base percentage, runs batted in, hits, and doubles.

Xander Bogaerts getting hot again is one of the keys to the success of the Red Sox offense down the stretch.

Shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who has led the league at points this season has struggled at the plate recently, in his last 30 games he is just batting .236. Bogaert’s, who is still hitting .309 with 17 home runs on the season, is having his best season yet in the big leagues, and with his defensive skills is considered one of the top shortstops in baseball.

Bogaerts had a better go at it this past weekend as he went 6-for-14 against the Royals in 3 games with 5 RBI’s. Now placed in the two spot, I can see Bogaerts continue this success and help be a key contributor in this lineup down this final stretch of the regular season.

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 Jackie Bradley Jr.

, we’ve seen all season how important he is to this ball club. Probably the best center fielder in the game outside of LA Angels OF Mike Trout. Manager John Farrell moved Bradley Jr. back to the 9th hole Saturday night, and it paid off with him collecting 3 hits in the previous two games. If it were up to me, I would have left him in the 9 spot all season, in May he batted a season high .385 in that spot. If it ain’t broken don’t fix it.

David Price leads a Red Sox starting rotation that has appeared to turn it around over the past month.

The starting rotation for this ball club has truly picked it up in the past month, more importantly the ace of the staff LHP David Price. Price in his last 4 starts is 4-0 with an ERA of 1.96, the veteran left hander seems to have turned the page from his woes earlier this season, and will continue to help this team down the stretch.

“He’s an intelligent, thoughtful guy,” manager John Farrell said yesterday when asked about Price’s personality. “I think he’s very well aware of his surroundings. That’s been my read on (him)”.

The MVP of this Boston Red Sox pitching staff has been without a doubt RHP Rick Porcello. Porcello who is low key having himself a career year, is 17-3 with an ERA of 3.23 on the year somehow was an All-Star Game snub this season.

These two pitchers for the Red Sox must carry this starting pitching to have any shot at winning the World Series. As good of a year as RHP Steven Wright is having, you can never rely on a knuckleballer to get you through a playoff race.

Look what the Red Sox did to RHP Tim Wakefield, as much as he was apart of the team he never started a pivotal playoff game down the stretch because the game seems “too big” to waist and somehow I think that might be a bunch of garbage, but could be the likelihood as October comes around.

The bottom of the rotation including LHP’s Drew Pomeranz  and Eduardo Rodriguez has been strong at times, but also shaky in key moments. Look for these two to battle for the final spot of the playoff rotation if things go right for this ball club in this final month of the regular season.

The bullpen needs to turn it around in order for the Red Sox to stay in contention.

The most important obstacle in making the playoffs for the Boston Red Sox will be this struggling bullpen. Not so much for Red Sox closer RHP Craig Kimbrel who although has been shaky with control problems at points this season, has been mostly solid with 23 saves this season.

The key for this bullpen will be finding someone who can hold a lead when the starter comes out in those 6-8 innings as it has been nothing but a disaster this season. RHP’s Junichi Tazawa and Matt Barnes have been very shaky in those spots the second half of the season with ERA’s in the above 5.00 during that stretch.

With rumors of RHP Jonathan Papelbon probably not coming to Boston, look for the club to try to find that 7th and 8th inning guy whether if it is RHP Koji Uehara returning from the DL, or even RHP Clay Buchholz who has been better recently, with two great spot starts he seems to have some type of groove back.

Overall, if the bullpen can figure it down this final stretch I definitely see postseason baseball in the Boston Red Sox future. With a tough road ahead against all of these hot AL East teams, it will be one hell of a month in baseball.

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