It was an up-and-down first half of the season for the Red Sox, but the momentum appeared to be shifting for Boston as Major League Baseball entered the All-Star break.
The Red Sox have won five of their last six heading into the start of the second half and currently sit just two games back of the second American League wild-card spot. While there’s still plenty of time for Boston to enter the playoff picture — and maybe even tighten up the AL East race race — ESPN’s David Schoenfield doesn’t see the club playing October baseball this year.
“I’ve been trying to believe in the Red Sox all season, but they have yet to establish any sort of consistency — and not just from the bullpen, which continues to rank poorly in FanGraphs’ “clutch” measurement (23rd in the majors),” Schoenfield writes. “Plus, guys like Marcus Walden and Matt Barnes, worked heavily so far, are showing signs of fatigue (Walden has an 8.22 ERA over his past 17 appearances and Barnes has an 8.79 ERA over his past 17 appearances). They’ll probably add relief help and David Price has quietly been very good (as has Chris Sale since his rough start), but they’ve also played more than half their games against both the Orioles and Blue Jays. I think they win 90 games, but fall just short of a wild card.”
It’s tough to knock Schoenfield for feeling this way, but his sentiments appear to be pending the Red Sox stand pat. Boston soon is expecting to welcome back Nathan Eovaldi, who’s poised to help out with late-inning duties. In turn, the Sox reportedly are in the market for a No. 5 starting pitcher as the trade deadline nears. Should Boston find success with each of these moves, there’s no reason to believe it can’t latch onto one of the wild-card spots.
The Red Sox, of course, will need to win the majority of their series the rest of the way if they are to have any hope of repeating as World Series champions. They’ll face stiff competition right out of the gate in the second half, as a Fall Classic rematch against the Los Angeles Dodgers kicks off Friday night at Fenway Park.
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