It’s a hectic time for Boston sports fans right now, which is why it makes sense if the Boston Red Sox have gotten lost in the shuffle for you recently. With the Boston Celtics playoff run ongoing, the Boston Bruins subjecting fans to heartbreak, and the New England Patriots draft proceedings being completed, the Red Sox have taken the backseat for the most part.
Given the limited expectations the Red Sox found themselves with entering the 2023 campaign, it’s not hard to see why fans haven’t been in too much of a rush to tune in to watch them. They didn’t do a ton to fix up their roster over the previous offseason, and they didn’t have a fantastic start to their campaign before the aforementioned Boston playoffs and 2023 NFL Draft to really get fans excited.
Yet just when you begin to count the Sox out, they have rattled off an eight-game win streak to go from the basement of the American League East to one of the wild card teams in the AL. Winning always catches the attention of fans, and with this recent stretch, the Sox have quickly become a talking point in Boston. With their win streak still ongoing, that has left all Red Sox fans asking the same question:
Are the Red Sox actually good?
Prior to reeling off eight straight wins, the Red Sox looked exactly like the team everyone expected them to be entering this season. Their pitching staff, particularly their starting rotation, was an absolute mess, which put a lot of pressure on their lineup to go out and score a ton of runs. For the most part, Boston has scored runs in bunches, but their pitching staff hasn’t been good enough for it to lead to consistent victories.
That was the case until recently. The Sox pitching staff has settled into the season, and their lineup has continued to mash, which has resulted in Boston coasting through the past eight games. Their pitching staff is allowing just 4.3 runs per game during this stretch, while their lineup is scoring 7.4 runs per game on the other side of things. Right off the bat, that’s going to result in a lot of wins.
The confusing part is that things still haven’t really been perfect for the Sox, and it’s fair to wonder whether or not this stretch of success is a flash in the pan, or something they can build off of. The member of their starting rotation with the lowest ERA right now is Nick Pivetta, who has a 4.99 ERA. Every other guy has at least a 5.34 ERA, with their supposed top two starters in Chris Sale and Corey Kluber still both having ERAs over six.
The bullpen has continued to be the saving grace to this point, with Kenley Janson, Josh Winckowski, and John Schreiber forming an elite trio that have been able to consistently close out games for Boston. There are still holes here, as Ryan Brasier has an 8.04 ERA through 15.2 innings, but this has been the biggest area of success for the Sox so far.
In the lineup, this winning streak is made even more confusing when you consider that they have managed to win games, despite their best player in Rafael Devers going through a rather prolonged slump in the middle of it. Devers has woken up recently, recording three hits in two of their last three games, but from April 19th to May 2nd, Devers was hitting just .143 for Boston.
In the absence of Devers’ typical production, Boston has been getting help from all over the place. Alex Verdugo is looking set to put together a monster season, and has picked up a pair of walk-off hits during this win streak. Masataka Yoshida has also caught fire, as he is in the midst of a 15-game hit streak (.433 BA, 5 HR, 18 RBI, 1.244 OPS) that has seen his batting average go from .167 to .315.
It doesn’t end with these guys either. Jarren Duran has been a revelation after starting the season in the minors, as he’s hitting .382 over his first 77 at-bats of the year. Connor Wong and Reese McGuire have teamed up to be a surprisingly effective catching tandem as well, and Emmanuel Valdez has also stepped up since coming up from the minors, hitting .343 in his limited action.
In each game during this streak, there has been a time where it felt like Boston was coming back down to earth, only for them to find a way to win. It’s certainly been welcome, but it likely isn’t sustainable. That doesn’t mean the Sox aren’t a good team, but their starting pitching metrics show that they will likely fall apart at some point, and the lineup is getting big contributions from minor-league guys who weren’t part of the plan less than a month ago.
The Red Sox will regress back to the mean at some point, even if they extend their win streak a few more games. However, they have proven that they have the talent to win on any given night, and preseason predictions suggesting this team could be a surprise wild card contender may not be as far off as initially expected. The Sox aren’t a World Series contender, but they may end up becoming a good team after all.
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