BOSTON – As the 2018 regular season enters its final few months, the Boston Red Sox juggernaut continues to roll on, destroying everything in its path.
Owning an MLB-best 85-35 record through 120 games, the Red Sox currently enjoy a comfortable 9.5 game lead over the New York Yankees and it seems only a complete capitulation will prevent them from securing their tenth American League Eastern division title, third in a row, and fourth since 2013.
The power-packed offense, lead by an incredibly talent trio of J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts, and Andrew Benintendi, is on pace to score 890 runs – some 48 more than any other team in the major leagues. The individual stats sheet makes for impressive reading and to say everyone is playing their role would be an understatement. Importantly, the less-heralded likes of Steve Pearce, Mitch Moreland, Brock Holt, etc. continue to add value, stepping up on the odd occasion when the bigger names in the lineup are quiet. These contributions ensure the win column continues to rise with unrivalled frequency.
On the pitching front, a steady and reliable rotation continues to be one of the American League’s best, working to a 3.59 ERA on the season, lead by Chris Sale who is compiling a career-best season (12-4, 1.97 ERA, 219 strikeouts). The bullpen is also playing its role, lead by Craig Kimbrel, Matt Barnes, and Hector Velazquez. Recent addition Ryan Brasier has also impressed since joining the team last month. Overall the team’s collective ERA of 3.50 is second only to the Houston Astros (3.06) and yet again the individual stats sheet makes for pleasant reading with almost everyone playing their role.
The team’s dominance at home (42-15) and over division rivals (43-15) are two notable splits which have helped them surge to such an impressive record, and their ability to feast on the weak (i.e. 14-2 against the last place Baltimore Orioles) is unlike any other. They’re bringing their best to the ballpark every night, keeping motivation levels high and demonstrating an unrelating thirst to succeed. Even as a rival fan, it really is quite impressive and enjoyable to watch.
These unrelenting ways have left fellow American League East powerhouse, the Yankees, somewhat stunned and almost out of contention for the division title despite owning an impressive 74-43 record. Throughout history just nine teams have reached the 100 win mark yet failed to win the division, yet that’s the fate awaiting the 2018 Yankees who are a very good baseball team in their own right and on pace for 102 wins. This stat highlights just how dominant the Red Sox have been.
Heading into the final six weeks of the season, the Red Sox appear to have very few concerns. The poor form of Drew Pomeranz is one, with the 29-year-old lefty continuing to produce inconsistent performances. His 5.96 ERA through 11 starts (13 outings total) highlights how poor he’s been in comparison to the rest of the pitching staff. He’s undoubted the weakest link and appears to be the obvious choice to miss out on a rotation spot come postseason. The continued offensive struggles of Jackie Bradley Jr. are also puzzling, with the outfielder hitting just .218 through almost 400 at bats. While still cable of anything on any given night, the Red Sox will hope the 28-year-old can find some consistency between now and October. Another smaller concern, but one none the less, is the offensive production from catchers Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez who combined have just 86 hits in 408 at bats this season. A boost here would help round out an offense which fires on all other cylinders.
The team’s schedule down the stretch is relatively kind, with the biggest challenges set to be the upcoming away series against the Philadelphia Phillies and a six-game stretch in early September against the Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros. The Yankees meanwhile have a similar, yet slightly tougher road ahead with a daunting trip west to face the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners in six games early next month. These six games, for all three teams, are set to have huge ramifications in the American League wildcard race. The Red Sox and Yankees have just six games against each other remaining, three in each city. It’s hard to see the widening gap between the two closing.
With the team on a roll and the division title seemingly all but secured, the Red Sox will look to stay fresh and healthy down the stretch, ensuring all of their key parts are primed for a postseason attack which may include a divisional series against the Yankees. Should that occur, two things are guaranteed – baseball fans all over the globe will be treated to an amazing spectacle, and more importantly, everything the Red Sox have achieved to date this season will count for nothing if they stumble when it matters most…