Don't Count Out the Sox Just Yet
The Red Sox are in the midst of an awful stretch of baseball. Entering play today, Boston is 2-8 in the last 10 games. They fell out of first, and kept falling, sitting at 4 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays. They’re only 2 games ahead of the Yankees, are now behind the A’s for the first Wild Card spot, and look like a team in absolute disarray.
But everyone needs to stop panicking. Teams go through rough patches. It happens. This Red Sox team was not even seen as a contender at the beginning of the year. If we had been told in March that Boston would hold a Wild Card spot and would be 4 games out of first on August 10, many of us would have been extremely happy. The team’s great first few months raised our expectations drastically, but that doesn’t mean we have to be upset about the position the Red Sox are in.
Furthermore, we should have more confidence that this team can bounce back. Boston has bounced back all season, already having come from behind to win in over 30 games this season. Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and J.D. Martinez are still phenomenal players. A lineup consisting of those three, Hunter Renfroe, Alex Verdugo, and Kiké Hernandez is still an above-average offense. Plus, Kyle Schwarber will be healthy soon. There’s really no reason to think that the team’s offensive woes should continue for any extended period of time.
The starting rotation is more of an issue. They have been absolutely dreadful recently, and haven’t been great all season. That said, Chris Sale returns Saturday, and Tanner Houck has been phenomenal when he’s gotten chances to start. When Sale returns, and Houck becomes a permanent member of the starting rotation, the team will have a starting five of Sale, Nathan Eovaldi, Tanner Houck, Nick Pivetta, and Eduardo Rodriguez. That’s not exactly five aces, but each of those guys has the potential to dominate any given outing. If Pivetta and Rodriguez especially can find more consistency, the Red Sox should have a very solid rotation, to go along with a very solid offense and, yes, a very solid bullpen.
2021 was never supposed to be a season in which Boston would dominate. We should be happy with the position the team finds themselves in, and should be excited about the future. But we shouldn’t count them out this year either. There doesn’t seem to be any true powerhouse in the American League. The Red Sox are easily good enough to make the playoffs at this point, and have enough games remaining against Tampa Bay that we shouldn’t be surprised if they come back and win the division. The offense will rebound and should get back to being a top-tier group, and the rotation should see a major boost in performance from the coming reinforcements.
The Red Sox have had an extremely bad stretch of baseball. But don’t count them out yet. There’s plenty of baseball yet to play.