Sluggish, stumbling, and weak at the knees, the Boston Red Sox once again wallowing in the summertime blues.
The high of a six-game winning streak and chasing a playoff spot has worn off. Temporary? Well, that’s a TBD on the agenda. For now, good vibes have been replaced by a skid of seven losses in eight games and the all-important buy/sell decision in 2023 is about to be an easy one.
One player who has been on the upswing is rookie first baseman Triston Casas. The numbers aren’t overwhelming, certainly not at an All-Star level but Casas is trending towards a spectacular display in July.
Improvement for Boston Red Sox rookie
Entering the ’23 season, Casas had high expectations hoisted upon him. Not over-the-moon, like perhaps Rafael Devers after his meteoric rise to the Red Sox. But enough where fans were ready for Casas to level up the first base after the highs-and-lows of Bobby Dalbec trying to lock up the position.
Early on, Casas appeared to be on the path of producing results that were more of the same. A .137 average wasn’t providing much hope, though Casas proved to have a good eye in landing 15 walks.
The month of May saw improvement, with Casas hitting .257 and adding three home runs to the three he’d already hit in April.
Still, after an 0-7 performance in his first two games of June, Casas was only hitting .184. Patience was running thin with Casas and the idea he wasn’t ready for “the big time” was batted about. Except, aside from frustrating at-bats and too many strikeouts, Casas was hitting the ball hard. And gets good swings. The stroke was there and the power was coming. It was only a matter of time before some of those outs started falling for hits.
And they did. Despite a decision to play Casas less — wrong, in many ways, considering he was already starting to play better prior to that decision — he has remained focused. So much that June, with one game left, turned out to be his best month yet.
Casas is hitting .288 with 3 home runs and 11 RBI. The rookie has five doubles and a triple in June, with nine multi-hit games. Plus, the strikeouts have been less, accumulating only 20.
Casas needs to continue to play on a regular basis. Fielding and defense have been a bit perplexing at times but, in a rookie year, there is a learning curve. And yes, he is hitting only .189 against lefties but that’s in only 37 at-bats. Given a chance, he might find more luck and continue to grow. The position is his to maintain, as it appears Dalbec’s window has closed.
Dalbec has been a Triple-A powerhouse but can’t seem to crack the consistency of MLB, except for one glorious August in 2021. Let Casas work through the ups-and-downs as Boston possibly shuffles along towards the end of the season.
Boston Red Sox struggling
In fairness, through much of the first half of 2023, Boston (40-42) has been overperforming. But recent struggles and injuries have against flipped the coin to despair heading into July.
Hope is not gone but a five-game losing streak in which the Red Sox have scored eight runs is discouraging. The offense had been the high point and seemed to have things figured out during the winning streak. But, old ways have returned and the Red Sox can’t seem to find even a hit, let alone a key hit.
They wasted another brilliant effort Thursday night by Brayan Bello, losing 2-0 to the Miami Marlins. Bello took a no-hitter into the eighth inning, allowing an infield single to Jean Segura. This was only one of two hits allowed by Bello, who struck out five.
Such is life for the Boston Red Sox, who could be soon on the hook for another long summer if things don’t turn around quickly. They have overachieved in many ways through the season’s first-half but still hold the cards to make a playoff run if the offense returns. Or, it could be a second-half of youngsters getting at-bats to cement a lineup spot for the future.
Either way, Casas is in those plans and all signs are pointing to a July where he truly takes off.