These Red Sox Are For Real
Remember the last time the Boston Red Sox were good in April? Me neither.
But so far in 2016, the Red Sox have reached May 1st above five hundred at 15-10 and first place in the American League East – the first time they have done so since late 2013. Part of their success has surprisingly come from the bottom of the batting order and the middle of their rotation. Sure, everyone knew that Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts would rake while David Price shut down opposing lineups, but no one expected Jackie Bradley to be putting up big numbers or Rick Porcello to be 5-0 in five starts. Additionally, the Red Sox weren’t thought to be an explosive baserunning team, but their twenty-two stolen bases in twenty-five games proves otherwise.
Heading into the season there were plenty of question marks – third base, Pedroia’s health, Ortiz’s age, the back end of the rotation, bullpen depth – yada yada yada. Up to this point however, there are only a few withstanding negative issues. Clay Buchholz in general, Pablo Sandoval‘s “injury,” and some minor bullpen mistakes have derailed a few games so far. But for the most part, the question marks have answered themselves. Travis Shaw is easily becoming one of the better third basemen in the AL – hitting .322 and tied for second on the team in RBI, including a game-tying homer in Sunday’s sweeping series finale versus the New York Yankees. Pedroia seems to have at least two hits per night and is currently leading the team in that category and batting average. Then there’s Big Papi – the renaissance, the ageless wonder, the legendary slugger – leading the team with five bombs and 19 RBI.
Oh, the back end of the rotation? Steven Wright, Joe Kelley, and Porcello are a combined 8-2 in twelve starts this year. If the Red Sox can consistently go at least 2-2 in games that Price doesn’t start, they’ll easily top the AL East with 97 wins. Eduardo Rodriguez should be returning from his rehab assignment and the Red Sox are expecting a lot out of him as well. That is all tentative, of course.
The bullpen has been pretty strong as well. Junichi Tazawa has only given up one earned run in eleven appearances and Craig Kimbrel has gone 8/9 in save opportunities. Carson Smith is expected to rejoin the team today in Chicago, which will add even more depth and experience to the pen.
Sure, things aren’t perfect. There were a few blown games early against Baltimore and Tampa, but the Red Sox have seemingly gotten off to their best start in years. It remains to be seen how everything will hold up over the course of a long season. Tonight, they begin a crucial six game road swing against the AL leading Chicago White Sox, only to go back and face the Yankees once again. Anything less than a 4-2 record may be seen as a disappointment. Who knows.
But we do know that these Red Sox are for real; and they’re spectacular.
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