In case you missed it, last night after the Red Sox’s 6-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays they officially clinched a playoff berth. The Sox have guaranteed themselves at least a one-game AL Wild Card game, but if they want to skip over that one-game playoff they will need to win the American League East outright. The magic number to clinch the AL East is three with seven games left to play. Boston is the third team in all of baseball to punch their ticket into the postseason, both the Rangers in the AL West and the Cubs in the NL Central already clinched their respective divisions while the Washington Nationals clinched the NL East shortly after the Red Sox clinched. Aside from the playoff berth, the Red Sox are currently enjoying a ten-game winning streak, vaulting their overall record to 91-64.
Their roster is getting hot at just the right time, and showing what World Series caliber teams are made of, by persevering through injuries to key players such as Carson Smith, Blake Swihart, Steven Wright and Pablo Sandoval (key player is very generous in Pablo’s case). It is no secret that some of the first-half standouts like Jackie Bradley Jr (0.273/0.353/0.501) and Steven Wright (13-6 with a 3.33 ERA) have slowed down considerably but where they slowed down, others certainly picked up. Lifetime backup catcher, Sandy Leon went through a torrid stretch giving him a 0.322 batting average. I’m very happy to say that I was right about Joe Kelly’s transition to the bullpen, in Kelly’s last ten appearances he has let up 8 hits, struck out 12 and let up zero runs while touching 101.6 MPH on the radar gun. Koji Uehara, at the age of 41 hasn’t surrendered a run in his last 13 appearances while only letting up 6 hits and striking out 16. Mookie Betts is batting 0.458 during his last seven games and 0.350 in his last thirty games raising his season average to 0.321 complementing his 31 home runs and 108 RBIs. In Hanley Ramirez’s last thirty games, he has knocked 13 home runs and is batting 0.345 while in his last seven he has 3 home runs and an average of 0.429. Everything’s coming up Sox it seems, David Price who had some trouble along the way this season, is 9-0 in his last ten starts.
Andrew Benintendi is worth mentioning since the uber prospect and former Arkansas Razorback has made the most of his call-up by winning the left-field starting job and slashing 0.318/0.366/0.518, it is also worth noting his dance moves in the outfield.
Bottomline, Mookie Betts, David Ortiz and Rick Porcello have been the backbone of this year’s Red Sox team. I mentioned Betts earlier in the article but what I didn’t mention is that he is currently the favorite for American League MVP. Ortiz is not far behind him in the MVP discussion thanks to his unparalleled numbers for a farewell season. Big Papi boasts a slash of 0.319/0.406/0.631 to accompany his 37 homers and 124 RBIs. Has anybody ever won the MVP award and then promptly retired afterwards? Rick Porcello, after an underwhelming 2015 campaign has bounced back strong and he’s almost guaranteed himself the AL Comeback Player of the Year Award but is definitely also in the conversation for American League Cy Young along with Orioles closer Zach Britton and Indians starter Corey Kluber. Porcello has a record of 22-4 with an ERA of 3.11 and a WHIP of 0.99, his win total and WHIP are league bests.
Both Porcello’s resurgence and Price’s reputation begs a great question, if the Red Sox are not able to capture the AL East outright and are forced to play a one-game Wild Card playoff. If you’re Manager John Farrell, do you start David Price or Rick Porcello in that one-game playoff? If it were me, I would start Rick Porcello because what he has been best at, better than anybody else in the league is capturing wins. Porcello has limited postseason exposure but the confidence he’ll have when Farrell gives him the baseball will be unprecedented. Has a pitcher ever thrown a no-hitter in a one-game playoff? It definitely doesn’t help David Price’s case that he is historically extremely mediocre in the playoffs and has a 2-7 record to prove it paired with a 5.12 ERA. Either way, having to chose between David Price and Rick Porcello to save your season is certainly a good problem to have.
The Boston Red Sox are in for a fun and successful postseason run I believe, you see it every year where a team gets hot at the right time and that wave takes them to the promised land. The only question that remains is, are they the team destined to prolong the Cubs’ Curse of the Billy Goat.
Cover Photo via Huffington Post
Various Photos via Yahoo Sports and Forbes
GIFs via MLB.com