The once promising Boston Red Sox season has looked grim at times, but is there room for optimism and honesty about this club?
Time is ticking on the Boston Red Sox in London this weekend, and if they cannot find a way to make up ground on the New York Yankees, the bridge may be coming down on their chances of winning the division.
One year ago, they were 55-28 and in a dead heat with New York in the division race. Today, the Sox sit at 44-38, nearly ten games worse. And in fact, they are nine games out of the first place Yankees.
Put simply, the Yankees have exceeded expectation and picked up where the Red Sox left off. Meanwhile, the Red Sox have had to play catch up for virtually the entire season.
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It’s time to be honest about the 2019 team. Not necessarily in only a negative manner, but also a realistic one.
First, they made a grave mistake by not getting bullpen help in the offseason. Most of us already know that. Boston has blown 16 saves this season, including two in the past week.
Not signing Craig Kimbrel has theoretically cost them at least 7-10 wins, given that his career save percentage is just above .900. Those added wins would likely be enough to get them right where they expected to be.
But even so, the front office’s decision to resign World Series heroes Nathan Eovaldi and Steve Pearce over dependable relievers has backfired. They’ve had to rely on players with little high-leverage experience to get them through tough situations.
Ultimately, the Sox have lost many games that they should have one because of the bullpen. That’s no secret.
The American League is also just much better than in years prior. Two years ago at this time 44 wins was enough for first place but not anymore. The aforementioned Yankees have been much better despite injuries and the Tampa Bay Rays have improved drastically. Outside the division, Cleveland, Texas, and Houston have given the Red Sox problems. So not only must they claw their way through a pennant race, but also through a Wild Card race.
They did themselves no favors by starting 2-8, but they’ve rebounded enough to get themselves into position to at least make a run at it. Although, as Red Sox fans, we shouldn’t get our hopes up too much.
Yes, Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and even Michael Chavis have given us much to be excited about going forward. But make no mistake: if the Boston Red Sox do not add legitimate bullpen help like Will Smith or Jake Diekman, they will not last long enough to stay in the playoff race.
So while we should stay optimistic, we should not get our hopes up for them unless they take action at the trade deadline. If we do, we may be in for a royal disappointment.