It’s not often we get to qualify the Red Sox as the last place Red Sox. Sound sweet, doesn’t it? That’s where Boston stands in the division entering this weekend’s wraparound four game series vs. the Yankees.
Their story so far
The Red Sox are fresh off an embarrassing four game sweep at the hands of the Rays at Fenway park. Tampa Bay outscored Boston 42-22 during the series. Mind you that was against the Rays’ not so special offense. Folks, it’s ugly in Beantown.
Since the Yankees swept Boston, the Red Sox have lost six of nine games (so really, they’ve lost nine of twelve). Hate to see it! Although, it didn’t really get bad until the aforementioned series against the Rays. Following the series at Yankee Stadium at the beginning of the month, the Sox split a quick two game set at the Trop. They then came back to Fenway and took two of three from the Blue Jays before things unraveled against Tampa Bay.
This swoon leaves Boston at 6-13 on the season and 6.5 games behind the Yankees. The Sox have the worst record in the American League and are second to the lowly Pirates in all of baseball.
I don’t think anyone expected Boston to be good this season, but did anyone anticipate them being this bad? I assumed that Boston’s offense would carry them a little further and allow them to win some slugfests, but that hasn’t been the case. As a team, the Red Sox are hitting .254/.316/.422 (98 wRC+), which places them 20th in wRC+ in MLB. Even if Boston was hitting better, it’s kind of hard to overcome a pitching staff that’s allowed 112 runs thus far, third-worst of all thirty clubs.
There’s one new injury to report since the last series against the Red Sox. OF Andrew Benintendi has a strained rib cage and is on the injured list. He’ll miss this series. Additionally, we already know that LHP Eduardo Rodríguez was on the COVID-19 injured list, but it was announced during that last Yankees series that he would not return this season. Here’s everyone else, thanks to a little copying and pasting from the last preview:
- The oft-injured 2B Dustin Pedroia had a knee procedure last August. It’s hard to imagine when or if he’ll ever return.
- LHP Chris Sale had Tommy John surgery and will not return this year. He should be an option again mid-2021.
- Boston has two other players on the COVID-19 injured list: LHP Darwinzon Hernandez and LHP Josh Taylor. Their returns are unknown.
- RHP Collin McHugh opted out of the 2020 season.
Spotlight: Mookie Betts
At first, I was going to profile Mitch Moreland. He’s been really good offensively and figures to be a trade deadline chip for the Red Sox. But what’s the fun in giving kudos to anyone on the Sox? I’m pro-fun, and I think lambasting the Red Sox for trading Mookie Betts is always a good time. So, let’s look to the west coast to see what the former Sox outfielder is up to.
Oh. Did he hit three dingers yesterday? Yes, yes he did. I guess if there’s any solace for Red Sox fans, it’s that they’re probably going to be asleep during most of Mookie’s career. So they won’t have to see it. Let’s just remind them what they’re missing: Betts is batting .319/.380/.694 (189 wRC+) for the Dodgers so far.
Of course, Red Sox fans could have seen the entirety of Betts’ career if team ownership was willing to pay the 27 year-old superstar. Los Angeles just inked Betts to a 12 year, $365 million contract that’ll keep him with the Dodgers through the end of his career.
It’s *still* dumbfounding that the Red Sox traded Betts away for scraps. Mookie hit .301/.374/.519 (135 wRC+) for Boston since 2014. He also swatted 146 homers, swiped 127 bases, played stellar defense, and racked up nearly 40 WAR. Not to mention his 2018 MVP season when he led Boston to a championship. But hey, can’t keep those kind of productive players around. Just can’t.
Here’s the Roster Resource projected lineup along with each starters’ small sample size performance to date:
- Alex Verdugo, LF (.259/.328/.431, 105 wRC+)
- Rafel Devers, 3B (.169/.229/.323, 45 wRC+)
- J.D. Martinez, DH (.232/.329/.435, 103 wRC+)
- Xander Bogaerts, SS (.293/.379/.517, 142 wRC+)
- Mitch Moreland, 1B (.306/.359/.833, 209 wRC+)
- Christian Vázquez, C (.241/.267/.483, 95 wRC+)
- Kevin Pillar, RF (.321/.345/.464, 118 wRC+)
- Jackie Bradley Jr., CF (.211/.274/.246, 43 wRC+)
- José Peraza, 2B (.262/.297/.344, 72 wRC+)
On the bench, Boston has backup catcher Kevin Plawecki along with infielders Jonathan Araúz, Michael Chavis, and Tzu-Wei Lin. Chavis will probably play against the lefties the Yankees start this weekend. He’s at .300/.317/.575 (133 wRC+) this season.
Boston’s going with a bullpen game this evening. This’ll be Brewer’s first career start. You might remember him in the Yankees’ organization a few years ago — he was a minor league Rule 5 pick in 2016, but left as a minor league free agent. He’s probably good for an inning or two tonight.
No announcement yet as to who will start for Boston tonight. Seems like a good opportunity for the Yankees to feast on Boston pitching. Meanwhile, the Yankees have the ace of the staff on the mound. We still haven’t seen Cole put everything together in one start just yet. This will be his fifth outing of the season.
The Yankees missed Eovaldi, Boston’s de facto ace, in the previous series vs. the Red Sox. He’s been pretty decent thus far in 2020: in four starts and 22 innings, the hard-throwing righty has a 4.09 ERA and 3.35 FIP. The ex-Yankee fanned ten Blue Jays across six innings in his last start.
Eovaldi pretty much only throws fastballs and cutters to righties with the occasional curveball mixed in. Against lefties, he’ll also throw in a splitter more frequently.
Paxton’s coming off his best start of the season against the Rays. Hopefully Saturday is another step in the right direction in terms of velocity buildup. This is The Big Maple’s first start against Boston this season.
Sunday, 7:08 p.m. EDT: TBD/Bullpen Game vs. LHP JA Happ (vs. Red Sox)
Sunday’s also up in the air for the Red Sox. It could turn out to be a slugfest with Happ on the mound for the Yankees. Sigh. As I wrote yesterday, keeping Happ in the rotation is a bad idea (obviously).
Monday, 7:05 p.m. EDT: LHP Martín Pérez (vs. Yankees) vs. LHP Jordan Montgomery (vs. Red Sox)
Pérez has actually been kinda good for Boston thus far. In 21 1/3 innings, he’s posted a 3.38 ERA and 3.88 FIP. He doesn’t miss many bats, but he’s been a soft contact extraordinaire thus far.
Montgomery pitched really well against Boston in his season debut: 5 2/3 innings and one run allowed. He’s also coming off a quality start vs. Atlanta last time out.
RHP: Brandon Workman (Closer), Matthew Barnes, Austin Brice, Phillips Valdez, Heath Hembree, Ryan Brasier, Colten Brewer, Marcus Walden, Dylan Covey, Ryan Weber
LHP: Josh Osich
The only bullpen to throw more innings than the Red Sox this season has been the Rays’. That’s by design for Tampa Bay, though. Boston has no choice because its starting pitching is so thin. It’s not like its group of relievers are very good, either. The Red Sox are in the bottom-third of MLB in bullpen ERA.
Boston’s top relievers are pretty fresh because the team hasn’t had many leads to protect. Workman hasn’t pitched since last Friday and Barnes hasn’t gone since Sunday. Although, calling Barnes a top reliever is a bit of a misnomer. A few pitchers are likely to be unavailable tonight. Valdez (35 pitches), Hembree (15), Walden (23), and Osich (33) pitched in yesterday’s loss. Weber threw 58 pitches on Wednesday.
A four game sweep is a lot to ask, but if the Rays just did it against them, the Yankees should too. The one game I’d be concerned about is Happ’s start, but there’s also a good chance the Yankees outslug the Red Sox that night. In any event, it’s time to bury Boston and put them out of their misery.