The topsy-turvy nature of the American League East Division race almost feels unfair to the participants. The Major League Baseball schedule has nearly reached the point where every team has played 100 games, and every team in the division is above .500. The Boston Red Sox are 51-46 and stuck in fourth place despite winning seven of their past 10 games.
As of right now, the Red Sox are 2.5 games out of the final AL Wild Card spot. If Boston were in the American League Central, the Red Sox would be in first place. But that is not how the MLB playoffs work. The Red Sox will need to find a way to keep up with its division rivals if it has any ambitions of making the playoffs.
Boston Red Sox didn’t have High Expectations Entering the Season
After an offseason that saw Xander Bogaerts, Nathan Eovaldi, and J.D. Martinez leave town, many people figured the Boston Red Sox were headed for fifth place in the division. Boston was fortunate to be able to get ace pitcher Chris Sale back from an injury.
Boston’s management was telling people that a lot had to go right for Boston to be competitive. Players were going to have to stay healthy, and the veteran players needed to live up to expectations. The Red Sox have several prospects they are excited about. Boston missed the playoffs in 2022 after making the American League postseason in 2021.
Boston has Found its way out of a June Funk
The Boston Red Sox appeared to be heading out of contention in late June. After being as many as six games above .500 in May, things hit a low point for Boston following a 2-0 loss to the Miami Marlins on June 29 at Fenway Park. The loss marked the fifth consecutive loss for Boston and dropped them to 40-42 on the season.
What made the loss to the Marlins so tough for Boston was the way it happened. The Red Sox had a no-hitter going into the seventh inning. However, Miami’s bats would catch up to Boston rookie pitcher Bryan Bello in the eighth. He gave up two hits and a run. Boston’s offense was unable to catch up.
The Boston Red Sox don’t have much Power
Boston has been in the bottom third of the league in home run hitting this season. The Boston Red Sox are currently 21st in the league, having hit 105 home runs. Boston’s main home run threat has been Rafael Devers. Justin Turner also has 15 home runs for the Red Sox.
While you don’t necessarily need power hitting to win a World Series, hitting home runs can solve a lot of woes on offense. Boston only has 10 players who have hit 10 or more long balls this season.
Will Boston add at the Deadline?
The trade deadline in MLB is quickly approaching, and many teams are starting to figure out what their strategy is. There is a rumor swirling now that Boston may be willing to make a move to position themselves better to win a championship.
Some media outlets are reporting that the Boston Red Sox are working to acquire Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Lucus Giolito and shortstop Tim Anderson. Giolito has been an effective starter for Chicago this season. He has compiled a 3.96 ERA in 116 innings of work.
Anderson would be an infielder that is able to consistently get on base when he is hitting well. Anderson’s style, however, won’t help Boston’s power woes. Anderson hasn’t hit a home run in any of his 295 at-bats this season.
Bello has Become Boston’s most Consistent Pitcher
Last season was a rough introduction to MLB baseball for Bello. After being called up, Bello was 2-8 with a 4.71 ERA. However, Bello has made the adjustments and come back as a totally different player. Bello has compiled a 7-6 record in 19 starts this season.
He leads all of Boston’s pitchers with a 2.5 WAR. Bello also has a 3.6 ERA, which has shaved an entire point off his number from last year. Bello’s strikeout-to-walk rate is sitting at a solid 3.3. Nick Pivetta has been one of the best relievers in the league for Boston. Pivetta has a 6-5 record in 23 games this season.
Red Sox closer Kelsey Jansen has collected 20 saves this season. The Red Sox have been fortunate that many of their players have been living up to their potential.
Boston’s Biggest Hurdle will come from the Division
Logic may dictate that Tampa Bay would run away with the division after starting the season 13-0. However, the other teams in the division have been slowly reeling in the Rays. Baltimore has caught up and is in a virtual tie for first place.
The Blue Jays and Yankees also have strong teams. For Boston to be able to compete, the Red Sox will have to find a way to beat up on their opponents to stay in the division.
The Boston Red Sox may just be a Year away
The Red Sox don’t have the mix of pitching and hitting to compete for a World Series. Boston has some strong youngsters in their rotation with Bello. The big question for the Red Sox is how willing it is to add players at the deadline.
The competition in the AL East is fierce this season. In addition, the Texas Rangers have surprised observers by surging to first place in the West Division. That means the Houston Astros, the defending World Champions, are in the mix for the wild card.
While Boston has been playing well recently, it will be hard for the Red Sox to keep pace. This will be a good learning experience for Boston, which will be able to build off this and build a strong team moving forward.