Brace yourself: here comes the summer of mediocrity
Take a deep breath. We may be in for a long summer.
(Photo courtesy AP)
Ben Whitehead Contributing writer
In our recent Red Sox Life Podcast, Mike Flynn and I discussed the nature of the 2017 Red Sox and what to think of this team. I mentioned what you see is what you get. At the time, the Sox were six games over .500, in first for the Wild Card, and two games back of the Yankees with the series in the Bronx upcoming.
Fast forward five days and my stance is the same, if not more firm.
Boston floundered in its opportunity to prove that it belonged among the leaders of the American League. The Sox took the opener, 5-4, before being walloped by a combined 17-1 in the final two games against the Bronx Bombers.
The Red Sox are 1-4 against New York on the young season and won't play the Yankees again until after the All Star Break. Boston is also only 6-7 against Baltimore, giving it a combined 7-11 record against the top contenders from the East.
Against the top three teams currently in the Central, the Sox are 2-1 against division-leading Minnesota and 1-3 against Detroit with the Tigers visiting Fenway this weekend (NOTE: BOS has not played second-place Cleveland yet). And in the West, Boston has yet to play Houston or Los Angeles (series with each in the next two weeks) and is 2-1 against Seattle.
All that amounts to a whopping 12-16 record against the top teams from each division. With an overall record of 32-27, that gives the Sox a 20-11 record against the rest of its schedule, which includes an 8-3 record against teams from the NL.
Again, I repeat: this team simply is what it is.
The Sox are a better ballclub than most in MLB. They will continue to battle it out for the two Wild Card spots through the summer. Injuries have put a damper on all expectations of this team - from Pablo Sandoval to David Price to Dustin Pedroia to Brock Holt to Eduardo Rodriguez to, you get the point. The stars of the team are young and will continue to develop at the highest level instead of in Triple-A.
Perhaps the return of Pedroia will prove more critical than thought. Or the pitching staff - Sale aside - will figure it out. Or everything will start clicking at once and the warm weather will warm up the bats.
A front office decision will be crucial by Dave Dombrowski. Does he go after something big at the trade deadline to push the team to a strong finish? Or will he realize the writing on the wall that he needs to hold out for next year?
Settle in for the summer, Sox Nation. What you see is what you're gonna get. This team will be above .500, albeit barely. The guess here is somewhere around 85 wins. If the injury bug disappears, Fenway Park could host the Wild Card game. A win would send the Sox to scorching hot Houston where the season will likely end.