It seems pretty clear at this juncture that, absent something astronomically bad happening, the Boston Red Sox are headed to the post-season. And anyone who has watched them over the season – and especially the past six days playing the likes of the Yankees and the Orioles – ought to know that, for a streaky team as the Sox are, they’ve gotten hot again at just the right time. With only two weeks left and no one else in the American League East seemingly able to push them, it’s looking good for the good guys.
Clearly this is a team with only a few weaknesses at this point. Pitching-wise, sure, you really don’t know what you’re getting every time David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Clay Buchholz go to the mound, but their upside (Buchholz is the dark horse, in my opinion) is such that the odds are you’re going to get a fairly solid outing whomever goes out there. Besides, you’ve got odds-on Cy Young favorite Rick Porcello who’s riding a seriously hot streak right now. In a short series, my money is on Price-Porcello-Buchholz as your top three. Rodriguez appears to be kind of a head case, but don’t kid yourself: most teams would dream to have their #4 starter with his kind of stuff. Drew Pomerantz? They’ve got him and Steven Wright if they need them. It’s a nice problem to have.
Besides, when you’ve got a lineup that features the likes of Hanley Ramirez – wow, is that dude hot! – and David Ortiz – wow, is that dude hot! – and Mookie Betts, Xander Bogearts, and Dustin Pedroia you’re just trying to give the offense a chance to rake. Jackie Bradley, Jr. is so streaky, but if he got hot, say, around the last week of the season he could carry the team almost by himself – hey, he’s done that before. Same thing with left-fielder Andrew Benintendi, once his knee gets a little healthier. Of course, 3B Travis Shaw is a black hole at third-base – he’s proven over a season that he’s really not much more than a utility player, but the Sox have options there as well. And Sandy Leon as catcher has come back to earth a bit, but I sure like his style.
To me, the biggest improvement the Sox have made over the past couple of weeks is getting reliever Koji Uehara back. I knew, I just knew, that Koji was going to play a huge role down the stretch if he could prove himself healthy. And being inactive for a while means he’s fresh for the post-season. I just wish Junichi Tazawa had been placed on the disabled list as well so that John Farrell couldn’t burn him out with overuse. But having Uehara back means that if you can get a good six innings out of your starter you’ve got Koji, Brad Ziegler, and Craig Kimbrel the rest of the way. Not a bad situation to be in at all.
The Sox are in a seriously good spot right now – as long as John Farrell isn’t forced to out-manage his opponent. Perhaps he’s OK as a manager in the clubhouse, but the guy is absolutely one of the worst in-game managers I’ve ever seen. I would love to see a Cubs – Red Sox World Series, and you’d be hard-pressed to find another team in the A.L. as talented as the Sox are right now, so why not dream?
It could get interesting, folks – to the point where we might just need to call up the post-season magic of “Tessie”.