Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Will The Red Sox Win The 2018 World Series?

Nightime At Fenway Park (pxg)
This Red Sox team is something special. Or at least it feels that way. They swept the Yankees when it counted in August at Fenway, will surpass 100 wins, and didn’t lose more than two games in a row between late April and late August. Their roster, stacked from top to bottom, could end up featuring the American League MVP and Cy Young winner (Mookie Betts and Chris Sale, respectively).  And they managed all this in an AL featuring two other top teams - long-time rivals the Yankees and the buoyant Houston Astros.

There’s a confident mood around Fenway Park with the Red Sox’s veteran first baseman Mitch Moreland saying the team is motivated by both fans and the baseball press seriously considering this team amongst the MLB’s best ever. Indeed, they’ve continued that winning run despite ace pitcher Sale going on the DL. But he’s expected to be back down the stretch; his 1.93 ERA and 219 strikeouts are just a couple of the shining numbers of his brilliant year.

That said, overall, pitching has been solid if unspectacular (aside from Sale and fellow starter Eduardo Rodriguez). David Price has got better as the year has gone on (showing promising form going into the postseason), and Rick Porcello has been workmanlike, but Drew Pomeranz is inconsistent and Brian Johnson, helping out in the absence of Sale, has shown his flaws as a “sixth-starter”.

Yet, when they’ve got a lead to the ninth, Craig Kimbrel has shown reliability in converting save opportunities despite suffering a decline in velocity. And, even with some flaws in the arms it possesses, the Red Sox still rank amongst the MLB’s top 5 for runs allowed per game.

Fenway Park Crowd (Fleming)
Some may point to the Red Sox’s weakness as the lack of a lefty in the bullpen but the likes of Tyler Thornburg, Heath Hembree, Joe Kelly and Ryan Brasier along with set-up man Matt Barnes have been effective against left-handed hitters. As MLB odds on bet365 highlight, this perceived frailty hasn’t prevented the franchise from being one of the favorites to go all the way this year.

It helps that the pitching staff have confidence in a batting line-up that’s always scoring plenty of runs. Backed by J. D. Martinez (who is batting over .330 and will surpass 40 home runs for the season), the Red Sox have got Mookie Betts enjoying one of his best years (certainly in terms of his consistency to get on base), and both Andrew Benintendi and Xander Bogaerts continue to impress in OBP and power numbers.

The Boston fans saw the franchise bolster the team when they traded for second baseman Ian Kinsler as a replacement for Pedroia and bolstered the depth of the rotation with a move for Nathan Eovaldi. Steve Pearce, another new addition, has also become an indispensable piece of the offense. These, if nothing else, show a statement of intent from the ownership that it intends to maintain momentum and go deep this year.