After sweeping the Orioles in a four game series, the Red Sox entered their off day on Monday 50 games over .500 with an 85-35 record. Boston has only lost 1 game in August so far, and holds a commanding 10 game lead over the rival Yankees. The Sox likely have the division all wrapped up at this pace, but the remaining part of their schedule is rather difficult compared to their schedule until now.
AP Photo - Michael Dwyer
In their first 120 games, the Sox have played teams projected to make the playoffs only 29.2% of the time. Out of their remaining 42 games, they will battle playoff projected teams in 21 games (50% of the time). Although Boston has dominated the non-playoff worthy teams, they unsurprisingly have had a tougher time with the better teams. Boston has gone 66-20 against teams who wouldn’t make the playoffs if the season ended today, but only 19-16 against those who would.
The remaining part of August isn’t too scary, with matchups against 2 playoff worthy teams (Philadelphia and Cleveland), 2 series’ against the middling Tampa Bay Rays, and 2 matchups against terrible teams (Miami Marlins and the Chicago White Sox). Boston also has the luxury of only having to play a mini 2 game series against the Phillies in Philadelphia and getting to host the Indians at home.
September is likely the toughest month of the schedule for the Sox by far. The final month of the regular season includes 6 games vs the Yankees, 3 against a Braves team fighting for their division, 3 against a playoff bound Indians team that has surged as of late, and 3 against the defending World Series champion Astros. The Yankees will likely be trying to fend off Seattle or Oakland for the 1st wild card seed, Atlanta and Houston will be trying to win their divisions, and Cleveland might be trying to earn a home berth in their first round matchup.
Although things are looking great for the Sox, they will face quite a test in their remaining schedule. It is expected that they have enough of a lead to hold off the Yankees even with some minor struggles here and there, but this difficult schedule will pose a serious threat to their opportunity to break the MLB record of 116 wins in a season. Although it’s nice to dream of a 117+ win season, Sox fans might be more realistic in hoping that the division and home berth are wrapped up early on so that Boston can take it easy and give a little rest to its stars in preparation for a deep postseason run.