By Matthew Cunha
With the Sox’s fifteenth extra inning win on Tuesday night and a three game lead in the AL East race, it would make sense for Red Sox fans to be excited about the upcoming October baseball. I am sure many of you are, but I could really care less. This team has shown some mega resiliency with late inning comebacks and all those extra inning wins and this kind of stuff usually gets me on the bandwagon, but for some reason it is just different this season for the Red Sox.
I give the Red Sox about a 10% chance of getting past the Astros in the first round. The pitching has carried the Sox this season and yet you enter the postseason with all but zero confidence in anyone other than Chris Sale. Sale has struggled of late with a 4.50 ERA in the past 30 days. Then you roll out Pomeranz in game two, who has been consistent, but do you really expect anything from him when all the chips are on the table? Then you get to game three and the best options are either Doug Fister or Rick Porcello or Eduardo Rodriguez. Fister is well, Doug Fister, and the Porcello has lost 17 games this year. Only one potential Red Sox starter (Doug Fister) has ever won a playoff game, let that sink in.
The offense and this group is loaded with potential but has struggled all season. Mookie Betts was 2nd in MVP voting last year and has only managed a .262 average. Hanley Ramirez is batting .238, powerless Xander Bogaerts has only managed a .268 average. The lead in team average is held by Eduardo Nunez at .319 and he’s only been here for two months. Nunez is followed by Dustin Pedroia at .302 and then you have a rookie in Rafael Devers and catcher Christian Vazquez. The common theme amongst all of the top average on the team is that they have only played fractions of the season. Pedroia has been on the DL for most of the second half, while Devers was a mid-season call up and Vazquez only plays roughly 40% of the time. Regardless, when you have a defensive catcher 4th in your team in average, you are not going to make a postseason run.
The power woes of the Red Sox are even more concerning when you are going up against an offensive juggernaut in the Houston Astros. The Astros led the league in runs, average and hits and are third in the league in home runs. The Red Sox are 5th in all of baseball in hits, but only tenth in runs scored. The Red Sox are 27th in Home Runs and with the quality of pitching in the postseason, sometimes home runs are the only way to score.
If somehow the Sox did manage to get by the motivated Astros, you will likely have Tito Francona and the Cleveland Indians waiting for you in the next round. Coming off their 22 game-winning streak, that team looks almost unstoppable. Last season, the Indians were just a game away from winning the World Series, without two of their top starters in Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar. This team will be more than motivated to get back to the fall classic. I think there’s about a 2% chance the Sox could get by Cleveland.
Other than the fact there’s zero chance of the Sox doing anything this postseason, this particular Red Sox team is not likeable. I still hold the Price/Eckersley incident against the organization. The players didn’t stand up, the manager didn’t stand up, and no one stood up for Dennis Eckersley. It was a black mark for the organization. Then they were found as cheaters, and not that cheating is necessarily seen as a big deal in professional sports anymore but they weren’t even sneaky about it. They did it the lazy way, if you are gonna cheat, can you have the common sense to be smart about it? Did I mention that David Price is still on the team too?
From the moment the Patriots season started, I have found myself caring less and less about the destiny of the 2017 Red Sox. I watch and listen to a lot to of Boston sports media and I sense from their diminishing coverage of the Sox that I am not only person out there who feels this way. The Red Sox are the number two team in the market behind the Patriots, but with the Celtics’ addition of Kyrie Irving, I wonder if that spot is really all that safe.
When the postseason starts, I will likely be watching the Sox games and I will be cheering for them. However, with a near certain outcome and a rather unlikeable bunch, it won’t be appointment television. If there’s something else going on, it will be perfectly fine in my book. Unless of course David Price comes into the game, then that is in fact must watch TV. Nothing would be more entertaining than watching Price explode in October, again. And when he does, I will just shake my head, laugh, and go about my day not turning my head once about another Sox’s postseason loss.
Matthew Cunha is a producer of The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.