Through their first 43 regular season games, the Boston Red Sox have underachieved to say the least, entering play on May 23 with a less than impressive record of 22-21. With high expectations entering the season, many fans are becoming impatient with how consistently inconsistent the team has performed thus far (no winning streak longer than four games; no losing streak longer than three games).
It’s been a case of not knowing what to expect on a daily basis from the team.
So the very basic question is this: should Red Sox fans be panicking despite there being nearly three-quarters of the season left to play?
As a huge Red Sox fan myself, I don’t believe they should. It’s still only May, and the team is only one game out of a playoff spot and just 4.5 games out of first place in the AL East.
Don’t worry Red Sox fans. This team will be just fine—should be at least. There’s simply no way, or excuse, that a team with this type of talent on paper can sustain this level of mediocrity for 162 games.
One thing that’s been noticeably absent so far this year is the team’s lack of power- Boston’s 38 home runs is tied for last in the majors with San Francisco entering play on 5/23, and their .408 slugging percentage is 11th worst. However, their .267 batting average is third best, and their on-base percentage is fourth among the big clubs at .337.
So while the hitting has been there, the power just hasn’t been… yet. Expect the team to utilize the long ball more often as they transition into the summer months.
The rotation is also another reason to be optimistic, and it all starts with lefty Chris Sale. The overpowering newcomer is 4-2 with a 2.19 ERA through nine starts (the last eight being 10+ strikeout performances), so expect more dominance from him. Third year starter Eduardo Rodriguez has quietly recorded six straight quality starts; and while Rick Porcello hasn’t been nearly as good as last year when he won the AL Cy Young, he’s still been solid with a 4.23 ERA through nine starts.
And don’t forget, David Price- last year’s major league leader in games started and innings pitched- is due to return soon. A rotation with Sale, Rodriguez, Porcello, and Price can be very scary if they’re all are on top of their game and pitching consistently well.
The final fifth spot, currently held by Drew Pomeranz, could change very quickly as he has averaged less than five innings per start this year (let’s face it, he’s better off in the pen), to go along with a dugout confrontation with John Farrell in his latest start at Oakland. With that spot lingering with uncertainty, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Red Sox pursue a starter at the deadline.
The bullpen is another reason for hope. Not only do the Red Sox have the game’s best closer in Craig Kimbrel, but their 3.15 ERA by relievers (47 ER/135 IP) is fifth best in baseball; and it’d be 2.40 (30 ER/112.1 IP) if you don’t count Ben Taylor or Robby Ross Jr. into the mix- the latter of which is in the minors now.
So don’t panic, Red Sox Nation. This team will be fine. They’re yet to fall below .500 at any point yet in 2017, and I truly believe this team is extremely close to going on a big run. It’s a long season, and as it progresses, expect the necessary moves and adjustments to be made.
This team simply has too much talent to keep underachieving the way they have.