Boston Red Sox have picked a bad time to go cold

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 18: Pitcher Darwinzon Hernandez #63 of the Boston Red Sox (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 18: Pitcher Darwinzon Hernandez #63 of the Boston Red Sox (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

Everything seemed to be coming together for the Boston Red Sox with about a week until the All-Star break.

A big 1-0 win against the Oakland Athletics gave the Sox their third straight series victory, including winning nine of their last ten games. They held a 4.5 game lead over the second place Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East, and with only six games left before the break, they seemed certain to cruise into the second half of the season.

Instead, things have gone in the complete opposite direction. After getting blown out last night by the New York Yankees, the Sox have dropped three straight series in a row, and have gone only 3-6 over their last nine games. As a result, the Rays have trimmed the Sox lead down to just a half game, meaning the Sox are going to have to figure things out before the Rays pass over them in the standings.

It’s been a combination of all three aspects of the team falling apart at different stages. Against the Los Angeles Angels, the lineup couldn’t get anything going, while the starting pitchers put the Sox in quick deficits in their two losses. Against the Philadelphia Phillies, the Sox dropped 11 runs in the series opener, only to watch Philly do the same to their bullpen in the second game, and then saw Nick Pivetta get roughed in the series finale, with the lineup unable to do enough to pick up a win.

Kicking off the second half of the season against the Yankees seemed like a saving grace for Boston. After all they were 6-0 against them so far, and pushed that to 7-0 after a dominant series opener. But that was pretty much all this series had for the Sox.

The bullpen and lineup were atrocious, with Hirokazu Sawamura blowing the second game by giving up back-to-back home runs juts before the game was called due to rain. Then, Darwinzon Hernandez came on last night and failed to even get an out, but did give up four runs in the process. It was an ugly end to the series, and the Sox could be in trouble moving forward.

What can the Boston Red Sox due to get out of their slump?

Manager Alex Cora was clearly looking to jumpstart his team in the second half by promoting Jarren Duran and Tanner Houck from the WooSox. While Houck was phenomenal in the first game and Duran had some good moments throughout the series, neither did anything to push the needle. The Sox only scored six runs over the three games, and the pitching faltered down the stretch in both their losses.

The Boston Red Sox presence at the trade deadline has been established as a buyer for some time, but just how aggressive they will be has yet to be seen. This recent stretch should start pushing the Sox towards being more aggressive than not at the deadline.

Let’s face it; the pitching staff as a whole has been relying on pitchers who have been overachieving for large portions of the season. Guys like Nick Pivetta, Martin Perez, Josh Taylor, and Darwinzon Hernandez don’t necessarily have lengthy track records of being great. And we have seen recently that they are starting to come back down to earth.

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And with the lineup, it has always felt like this team is relying too heavily on their 2-5 hitters, which is Alex Verdugo, J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and Rafael Devers. After them, there just isn’t much to this lineup. Guys like Hunter Renfroe, Kike Hernandez, and Christian Arroyo have been solid, but inconsistent at times, which has made this lineup very one dimensional.

It’s clear reinforcements are needed. That’s what Duran and Houck were supposed to be, and while they haven’t done anything to dispel that notion, it’s clear more is needed.

The good thing is that there are going to be tons of options for the taking, especially as we got closer and closer to the trade deadline. Teams such as the Chicago Cubs, Colorado Rockies, and Texas Rangers are all going to be offloading players at the deadline, and have some pieces that could come in and help contribute right away.

It feels like both the bullpen and lineup are in more dire need of help than the rotation. Chris Sale will be returning soon, and the addition of Houck is a good holdover until he returns. Sale offers the potential for the Boston Red Sox to add a de facto ace to their rotation without having to give up anything in return, so when that is considered, it makes sense for Boston to hold pat on the rotation.

The bullpen needs another consistent arm somewhere, preferably for high leverage situations. If that means trading for a closer and using him in those situations so be it. The bullpen has been good so far, but it won’t hold up as currently constructed.

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The lineup definitely needs another bat too. The outfield has been inconsistent, so maybe adding someone there would help, but first base has been a big sore spot the entire season. Bobby Dalbec just hasn’t produced all season long, so maybe they decide to shore up both the position and the lineup with one move.

Make no mistake, this Boston Red Sox team is still very good as constructed, but we are beginning to see some potentially fatal flaws pop up that could end up killing their promising season. The good news is there is still time to fix it. If the Sox want to establish themselves as serious World Series contenders, they need to step up to the plate and make a move or two that proves it.