Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Red Sox Are Entering A Consequential Period In Their 2018 Season

Let's be honest, Red Sox fans. Over the next week-to-ten-days, your 2018 Carmine Hose are going to be severely tested. Four events loom large in that test:

1.) Dave Dombrowski's inability to land an eighth-inning bridge to Craig Kimbrel at the deadline;
2.) The disabling of ace Chris Sale with "left shoulder inflammation"—and no real prognosis;
3.) Four huge games with The Evil Empire that could radically change the division picture;
4.) An 8-game road trip starting next Tuesday.

On the other side of this period, we will know a lot more about whether or not this "juggernaut" to a World Series title is real or not. The gaping hole between middle relief and the closer is stunning. Assuming that Joe Kelly and Tyler Thornburg will do the job hearkens us back to Dombrowski's multiple post-season bullpen failures with the Tigers. The "poo-poo-ing" of Sale's injury may be spin, but if he's getting hurt the way he's been "innings-managed" by Alex Cora, it raises some troubling long-term questions. Even without Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and (maybe) J.A. Happ, the Yankees could easily sweep the Red Sox this week-end and be just one game back in the division (or less if they win this afternoon with the Red Sox idle). The upcoming road trip is to Toronto, Baltimore and Philadelphia—so, Boston should take at least five of eight (the Red Sox, after all, own a 37-19 road mark). Still, the confluence of all of these factors through the middle of August will determine whether this 2018 team is a contender or a pretender.