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Boston Red Sox Series Preview: June 4 to 6

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When I previewed the 2021 Red Sox team back in March, it’s possible that I gave them too little credit for the roster they started the season with.  Coming off an atrocious 2020 season, many were not really expecting the Red Sox to contend in the East this year, focusing more on the Yankees, Rays, and Blue Jays.

It’s still early, but as the Yankees enter their first series of the season against their historic rival, there they are, contending.  The Sox have actually spent much of the season in first place, but were recently overtaken by the streaking Rays. The Yankees are currently looking up at Boston and Tampa in the standings, but are running just 2.5 games behind the Sox, so this first New York-Boston series of the season is a big one for both clubs.

Their Story So Far

The Red Sox’ turnaround from their last-place 2020 hasn’t really featured many surprises, but has mostly been due to players who were supposed to be good returning to form. Boston has the fifth-most runs scored in the AL, and the people who are expected to hit well have, thus far, hit well.  Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts have put up OPS+ marks of 154 and 149, respectively, and J.D. Martinez has bounced back in a big way from an awful 2020 to put up a 162 OPS+ with 12 home runs.

The pitching has been slightly above league average overall.  While there have been no real standounds, 4/5ths of the Red Sox rotation has been consistently good. Nathan Eovaldi, Garrett Richards, Nick Pivetta, and Martin Perez have all made ten or more starts with ERAs sitting around 4 or below.  Matt Barnes has been excellent in the closer role, and Adam Ottavino, Hirokazu Sawamura, and Darwinzon Hernandez have all been respectable in middle relief.

So far the 2021 Red Sox have been a testament to what can happen when your players do what they’re supposed to do. Hopefully the Yankees can start to follow suit starting this weekend.

Injury Report

PLAYERPOSITIONINJURYINJURY STATUS
Zac GrotzRPElbowOut until at least mid-June
Ryan BrasierRPCalfOut until at least mid-June
Matt CarasitiRPElbowOut until at least early-June
Chris SaleSPElbowOut until at least July

Spotlight: Rafael Devers

It seems like Rafael Devers has been around forever, but the Red Sox star is still only 24 years old. While he had a pretty good year in 2020, he has exploded so far in 2021, hitting a team-leading 14 home runs and slashing .279/.351/.584 through his first 52 games this year.  He currently leads the American League in doubles (18) and total extra base hits (32), is third in OPS at .935, is tied for fourth in home runs, and is seventh in offensive WAR at 2.2.  He’s also third in all of baseball in barrels/plate appearance and seventh in hard-hit percentage, indicating that he hasn’t just been lucking into his success this year.

Devers has also proven himself to be one of the primary keys to the Red Sox lineup – as he goes, so goes the team.  In Boston wins, Devers’ OPS is 1.128, while it’s only .650 in their losses. So far in his career, his numbers against the New York have not been eye-popping, with a .728 OPS and a .297 OBP over 52 games, so the Yankees will have to hope that they can keep up that relative success against him during what appears to be a breakout season.

Projected Lineup

  1. Enrique Hernandez, CF (.228/.284/.383, 83 OPS+)
  2. Alex Verdugo, LF (.286/.347/.453, 120 OPS+)
  3. JD Martinez, DH (.322/.391/.571, 163 OPS+)
  4. Xander Bogaerts, SS (.312/.373/.538, 149 OPS+)
  5. Rafael Devers, 3B (.279/.351/.584, 154 OPS+)
  6. Hunter Renfroe, RF (.261/.301/.460, 107 OPS+)
  7. Bobby Dalbec, 1B (.197/.248/.367, 68 OPS+)
  8. Christian Vasquez, C (.251/.294/.359, 81 OPS+)
  9. Marwin Gonzalez, 2B (.190/.281/.272, 55 OPS+)

Pitching Matchups

Friday June 4, 7:05pm

RHP Nathan Eovaldi

Former Yankee Eovaldi is 6-2 this year with a 4.01 ERA, striking out 58 in 60.2 innings.  He had a solid showing last week against the Marlins, striking out seven over 4.1 scoreless innings. (Stats vs. Yankees)

RHP Michael King

Michael King is making his second appearance as a starter this year after beginning the season in the bullpen.  He has generally pitched quite well this year, but took the loss last week against Detroit, giving up four runs (2 earned) in 2.1 innings. (Stats vs. Red Sox)

Eovaldi.

Friday June 5, 7:15pm

LHP Eduardo Rodriguez

After missing all of the 2020 season due to complications from COVID, Rodriguez has struggled at the beginning of the year.  He is coming off a streak of four consecutive losses, including a 4.2 inning, six run showing last week against Houston. (Stats vs. Yankees)

RHP Jameson Taillon

Taillon has scuffled this year, entering June with a 1-4 record and a 5.10 ERA.  However, his last start against Detroit was decent, as he surrendered three runs in five innings and struck out five, and in his previous start he held the White Sox scoreless over five. (Stats vs. Red Sox)

Rodriguez.

Sunday June 6, 7:08pm

RHP Garrett Richards

Richards has posted a respectable 116 ERA+ this year despite a 4-4 record. He took a tough-luck loss against Houston last week despite holding the Astros to 2 runs in 6 innings. A key for him will be limiting his walks, as he currently averages 4.5 free passes per 9 innings. (Stats vs. Yankees)

RHP Domingo Germán

German has continued pitching well this season, coming into the series with a 3.27 ERA over 10 starts.  He has been particularly good at keeping runners off the basepaths this year, pitching to a 1.036 WHIP and walking only 1.6 batters per 9. (Stats vs. Red Sox)

Richards.

Bullpen Status

PlayerTuesdayWednesdayThursday
Matt Barnes
Adam Ottavino5
Darwinzon Hernandez13
Hirokazu Sawamura208
Garrett Whitlock35
Phillips Valdez
Josh Taylor4
Brandon Workman18
Matt Andriese

The Red Sox bullpen comes into the series pretty well rested; the Yankees, less so. Seems fun.

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4 Comments

  1. Eric Scheinkopf

    Maybe there will be a rainout the next two days to spare having to see a sweep.

  2. MikeD

    My pre-season prediction was the Red Sox would be “annoyingly competitive” this year, but ultimately would finish in 4th place, but above .500. At the time, my friends (including some Red Sox fans) thought I was being overly aggressive and optimistic about the Red Sox. Now I’m being told I’m underselling them. Nope, my initial prediction holds. They’re doing what I expected. They’re better than most thought in the preseason, but they won’t be strong enough to hang with the Yankees, Rays and Jays over 162 games.

  3. Frankie Ho-Tep

    I personally can’t imagine why anyone would want to watch this lineup be thoroughly dominated by the thoroughly mediocre Red Sox pitching. We’re getting well into month number three of offensive futility, porous defense, and circus-like fundamental play that would make little leaguers blush.

    It really doesn’t matter who is on the mound for the opposing team, the likelihood of scoring more than three runs is slim, at best. The Red Sox, on the other hand, can do things like hit the baseball with the bat and have runners cross home plate. That’s called “scoring” or “driving in runs.” Holding them under the requisite three runs in order to win a game is a tall task. The Yankees are, beyond any question, not as good as the Rays or Red Sox, so you just hope they can steal a game here. Then again, they’re not as good as the White Sox and they swept them, so who knows.

    And for added salt in the wound, pay special attention to when Adam Ottavino inevitably comes in and shuts the door on the Yankees in a big spot, probably more than once this series.

  4. Esteddardban Florial

    They’re by far the best team in the division and possibly all of baseball, Ana. You look up and down their lineup and you don’t see any .180 hitters whereas we have 5-6 on any given night. Vasty superior lineup. They score runs and I expect them to tee off on Michael King and Tallion. We’ll have a chance to win the 3rd game but the likely scenario is that we get swept. And then hopefully we start selling, cleaning house and building towards the future. That’s about all we have to look forward to.

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