The Red Sox murdered the Angels 10-1 as the Marlins were pounding on the Yankees 9-1. We are looking at a 14-2 Red Sox team that is off to the best start in Red Sox history. They made the game against the 13-4 Angels look like one of those Boston College/Northeastern Spring Training games where we have guys like Mookie Betts hitting balls 450 feet. Though it is very early on, Boston is already six games up in the division and I believe that will not change a whole lot. Some teams get off to hot starts and basically clinch the division in May. While this is rare, especially in the American League East, the Houston Astros were a complete team that proved that it is possible to just keep winning all season. Here is a positonal breakdown of how good the Red Sox have looked this season.
Starters: David Price redeemed himself after a weird exit a week ago. Sale is still incredible, making me believe that this team could be special. Price has given me the confidence of a true ace this season, meaning that we should win the first two games every rotation. Porcello has looked sharp and Pomeranz is coming off the Disabled List soon. Eduardo Rodriguez is a great 5th starter with front of the rotation potential. We also have a ton of depth with guys like Brian Johnson and Hector Velasquez doing well early on. As a team, the Red Sox have the second best ERA in the league at 2.82, trailing only Houston at a remarkable 2.62.
Bullpen: The bullpen is the worst part of this 14-2 Red Sox team, and they are still above average. Lets start with one of the best if not the best closer in the game in Craig Kimbrel. He has already locked up 5 saves this year and won the American League Rivera Reliever of the Year Award. They have Carson Smith as the eventual 8th inning guy once he settles down, which he will. Tyler Thornburg is expected to return soon and will be the 7th inning guy. A healthy Thornburg, Smith, and Kimbrel makes up a very solid back of the bullpen. Matt Barnes was overworked last season but is a great 6th inning guy to pair with Heath Hembree who is serviceable and a little underrated. Austin Maddox will likely take Hembree’s place in the pen when he comes back from a stint on the Disabled List with shoulder inflammation. Last season Maddox put up a 0.52 ERA in 17.1 IP when called up late in the year. Maddox showed potential to be a set-up man and has the velocity and accuracy to enter a close game in the 7th or 8th. Bobby Poyner has looked solid and we still have Robby Scott to fill our lefty specialist needs. Brian Johnson and Hector Velasquez have also gotten the job done as long relievers. The Red Sox will be buyers at the deadline and could easily get a stud to bolster the bullpen heading into the playoff run should it become an issue.
Lineup: Mookie Betts is back to his 2016 form. He has a .389 batting average and had a three homerun game last night to bring his total to five on the season. He leads the league in batting average, runs (19), doubles (7), OPS (1.289), and OPS+ (246). Hanley is having a bounce back season as well with a .327 BA and 15 RBIs. He hit a walk-off at Fenway Park for the Red Sox home opener, as well as a slew of clutch hits already. Bogaerts was on fire hitting .368 with 2 HRs and 7 doubles, which is still tied for the league lead despite injuring his ankle sliding into a dugout. The whole team is hitting aggressively and earlier in counts. This lineup has a great combination of speed and power that will be lethal as the year goes on. Boston has the highest OPS in the league at .831 and are tied for the best batting average with the Angels at .283.
My overall point is that this team appears to be on a hot streak. I’m arguing that while we won’t be on pace for 142-20 all season, That we are not just going to level out and then the Yankees will turn everything around and end up having to decide the division in the last week of September. I think this team is special, they have convinced me that we are actual World Series contenders not just faking it like the last two seasons.
Scott Neville – Baseball Writer – WTF Sports Nation