Just last week, the Boston Red Sox seemed set to embark on another awful season after they got swept by the Baltimore Orioles to open the season. And yet here they are, sitting in first place in the AL East riding a six game win streak after pulling up series sweeps of the Tampa Bay Rays and Orioles this past week. It’s a fascinating turn of events given how poorly the season kicked off, and is really the first time the Red Sox have looked competent since Chris Sale fanned Manny Machado to crown Boston as the champs in 2018. Obviously the sample size is small, but this is the most buzz the team has generated for itself in a couple years now. The question now becomes whether or not this team can continue their winning ways.
Part of the reason the Sox are getting hyped up right now isn’t because they are winning, it’s because they are winning in dominant fashion. Aside from their two extra inning contests, both of which resulted in victories, the Red Sox won some relatively uncontested contests this past week. Their lineup finally came to life, their starting rotation has generally been really solid to start the season, and the bullpen, while not truly tested yet, has come through when they’ve been called upon so far. There have been genuinely exciting moments, such as J.D. Martinez’s walkoff two-run double, or Bobby Dalbec forcing extra innings by hustling down the first base line and preventing a game ending double play. And yet the season is only nine games old, making it tough to truly know what this team will be like.
The biggest concern with Boston’s hot start has to be the level of competition they have faced so far. Let’s face it, the Orioles aren’t exactly the cream of the crop in the MLB right now, even though they swept Boston to kick off the season. Sweeping Baltimore only feels as sweet as it does because it’s instant revenge for them sweeping Boston to start the season. Otherwise sweeping Baltimore wouldn’t be the subject of as much praise as it has been over the past 24 hours. And while the Rays were just in the World Series last season, they have a very different roster than the one that carried them through the postseason last year. While they aren’t bad, they aren’t on the same level as they were last season.
With this in mind, it’s fair to wonder how the Red Sox will fair against upper echelon teams. It’s one thing to beat up on the Orioles, but can they do the same thing to the New York Yankees? This is why it’s best to not look too deeply into the Red Sox quick start. They’ve earned our attention for the time being, but the season is only nine games old, and there is still a lot that this team has to prove before we start making conclusions.
Still, there’s a lot to be optimistic about with Boston’s start to the season. The lineup started off slow, but has fully woken up after this series with Baltimore now. J.D. Martinez has been on an absolute tear to start the season, and there’s a high chance he will surpass his home run and RBI totals from last season in just the opening month of the season. Christian Vazquez was a monster against the Rays, and continues his ascent into one of the top catchers in the game. Rafael Devers shook off his cold start and hit a home run in each game against the O’s this past series, including two yesterday. Xander Bogaerts continues to be a steady cog in the middle of the lineup who is always a tough out. Some guys are still waking up, such as Alex Verdugo and Bobby Dalbec, but with the core of the lineup hitting, they have been provided time to find their swing.
The starting rotation has also been surprisingly consistent to start the season. Aside from Garrett Richards absolutely atrocious first start with the team, each starter has done enough to get the team a victory. Nathan Eovaldi has been lights out in his two starts so far. Eduardo Rodriguez finally got back on the mound, and had a spectacular first outing when you consider what he’s been through over the past year or so. Nick Pivetta has been erratic at times, but has done enough to pick up 2 wins in 2 starts. Martin Perez was solid in his first start, and will look to follow that up tonight against the Twins. This team is going to have to rely on their lineup to win them games at times, but the starting staff has been surprisingly good to kick off the season. The bullpen hasn’t had to be utilized as much, but there have been solid performances out of the pen early on, particularly from Matt Barnes and Garrett Whitlock. Matt Andriese has the only save on the season so far, which should pretty much tell you all you need to know about how much the pen has had to been used this season.
There’s reason to be optimistic about the Red Sox this season. They’ve already proven to be more entertaining than last season’s mess of a team, which is really all they needed to be for this season to be a success. Now they need to build off of that. Nine games isn’t going to determine how good this team will be, but the Red Sox have finally given us a reason to be interested in them for the next couple of weeks at least.
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