The Red Sox are in position to do damage in 2018. They are 68-30 and are leading their division by 4.5 games. As of now, Mookie is in prime position to win the American League MVP, and Chris Sale is leading the Cy Young discussion. The Red Sox would be cruising into the postseason if it wasn’t for those pesky Yankees. It’s a shame that the Red Sox can’t roll into the playoffs like the Astros and the Dodgers last season, but it’s also kind of awesome. The second half really matters despite having a near .700 winning percentage. The offense is all ready star studded with Mookie and J.D. leading the charge, Benintendi, Bogaerts, and Moreland providing great support. They lead in most offensive categories and do not need to improve their line-up. Second base is a problem area for the Sox but it is not the primary or secondary need in Boston, those needs are both related to pitching. The second base market is weak and they already have a Holt and Nunez platoon that is formidable and Brandon Philips is working his way up to the majors. Also there is the wildcard of Dustin Pedrioa potentially coming back.
Primary Need: Starting Pitching
I just wrote about this but getting a J.A. Happ or Cole Hamels would go a long way. Once Eduardo Rodriquez comes back the Red Sox would have a quality five man rotation. I will happily go into battle with Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Eduardo Rodriquez, (J.A. Happ, Cole Hamels) with Drew Pomeranz as a long reliever/spot starter if an injury occurs. Right now, we would have Sale, Price, Porcello, Johnson and fill in whichever arm we acquire. Boston already has a solid staff with the 5th best team ERA in baseball (3.59), but could use some help down the stretch. My biggest fear is that during a playoff series the Red Sox will not have the star power up front to compete with the Astros primarily as well as fend off the Yankees though they are in a similar position. That said, we have a ton of pitching depth and adding a back end starter with this potent offense should lock up the division and give us a good shot in a playoff series.
Secondary Need: Relief Pitching
The Red Sox currently own a 3.27 ERA out of the pen, also 5th in the MLB. Boston could keep their relief core as is and clinch the division if the Yankees do not go on a crazy run. That said, adding a set-up guy would make for a serious playoff push. Craig Kimbrel has been lock down this season and even proven that he can get more than three outs. Matt Barnes has also had a very strong season and been very consistent. Joe Kelly and Heath Hembree have been on an off all season but have showed signs of dominance. Here are some relievers that could make a serious impact this season that I have yet to mention:
- Jeurys Familia
Familia is 4-4 with a 2.88 ERA in 40.2 IP for a terrible Mets team. He is a free agent at the end of the year and could slide right into a set-up role in the 7th behind Barnes and Kimbrel. Familia would fit in really well with the current Red Sox roster.
- Zach Britton
Before a serious injury set him back, Britton was the hottest name in the relief market by a wide margin. In 2016 Britton had one of the best seasons as a closer of all time, posting a 0.54 ERA with 47 saves in 47 save opportunities, and 74 Ks to 67 IP. This season he has a 3.68 ERA in 14.2 IP and could be an absolute steal if he could get back to his dominate past. At age 30, the left-hander should have plenty in the tank and will be affordable as a rental that is coming off as massive injury.
- Joakim Soria
Soria is by far the least attractive name on here but has a 2.75 ERA in 36 IP in 14 saves. He also has 45 Ks to 9 BBs and has a $10 million mutual option next season the Red Sox would certainly decline. Soria is a quality arm that could help bolster Boston’s bullpen down the stretch.
If the Red Sox managed to get Rodriquez healthy, and Brandon Philips up to speed they would already be in good shape. Adding a quality starter to strengthen the rotation and a consistent reliever would go a long way. They would have enough to get past the Astros, Yankees, and certainly Indians. Any American League team that gets to the World Series should dominate as the leagues are just not on the same level this season. No National League team comes close to the Red Sox, Yankees, or Astros on paper, even the Dodgers with Machado do not scare me.
Scott Neville – Head Baseball Writer – WTF Sports