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Monday, April 22, 2019

A Weekend of Necessity

After kind of seeing their world turned upside down for a few weeks the Red Sox pretty much ticked all the boxes this weekend and more importantly picked up three much needed wins.  It is only April etc…but the reality is that 8 1/2 back at the start of the weekend meant being swept would have put them 11 1/2 out and even simply losing 2 out of 3 would have had them 9 1/2 out.  It is early enough that those are deficits that can be overcome but that would have been a heck of a hole to climb out of on April 21.

The weekend kind of was the blueprint for the expectations this year.  The rotation turned in three solid if unspectacular starts (though this was Johnny Vander Meer level stuff after the first 19 games), the offense was fairly potent and the bullpen was a bit dicey.  All in all the Sox gave themselves (or at least their fans) a chance to exhale on a flight home for a ten game homestand.  Some thoughts;

- As good as the offense was I found it a bit frustrating that there seemed to be a lack of adding on runs.  Saturday never should have been in doubt after the 5-0 lead in the second.  The Sox seem to have a habit this year of scoring early then shutting it down the rest of the way.  They have simply given away too many early leads this year and while a lot of that is on the tire fire of a rotation the Sox could have picked up a couple of wins by padding those leads some.

- Hey how about Michael Chavis?  That is a heck of a way to make a Major League debut and while you can argue that Kevin Kiermayer probably should have made the play the ball was absolutely torched and the way it turned in the air made it a very difficult play.  I’ll confess to some skepticism regarding Chavis (and Bobby Dalbec as well) due to some less than pleasant looking K/BB rates but he looked like a guy who belonged.  I thought he was particularly impressive in his limited chances at second base on Sunday.  For a guy who has not played the position much to make his MLB defensive debut at that spot is a challenge.  At the very least he provides a different look on the heels of struggles from guys like Brock Holt and Eduardo Nunez.

- If there was one criticism over the weekend it was the bullpen which had a rough go.  I kind of felt bad for Matt Barnes who gave up a homer on a fastball Saturday that had me screaming about not throwing a curveball that has been very good this year.  Then Sunday he comes back and throws a curveball that hung and wound up for a homer.  Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.  Ryan Brasier the Savior (no? OK, no) was very good Friday and Sunday and got himself more than a bit of help on the play to end the game Saturday with Vazquez and Pearce combining on the pickoff.  Marcus Walden’s work on Saturday can’t be overstated, for a guy who isn’t really a strikeout pitcher he got two big ones to maintain the tie.  The one guy I have no interest in seeing anymore of is Heath Hembree.  My personal current ranking of bullpen confidence is;

Matt Barnes
Ryan Brasier
-gap-
Colton Brewer
Marcus Walden
Brandon Workman
-gap-
Hector Velazquez
Tyler Thornburg
-gap-
Eduardo Nunez
-gap-
A batting tee
-gap-
Heath Hembree

- Lost in all the hubbub on Saturday and Sunday was Jackie Bradley making some key contributions at the plate.  The ninth inning uprising started with him delivering a lead off single against a very good lefty reliever.  Then on Sunday JBJ, who is in my estimation a terrible bunter, got down a beauty for a sacrifice to set up Christian Vazquez’ game winning sac fly.  If the Sox can get JBJ going that is going to help a LOT.

- Not enough can be said about the rotation starting to come around.  The loss of Nathan Eovaldi hurts of course this was hands down the best trip through the rotation the Sox have gotten and ideally they will build on that this week.

Baby steps when you start out 6-13 are what you need.  That is what the Sox got this weekend.  Part of the problem of looking at last year is how outrageous it was.  If you set that aside and compare to other successful seasons the 9-13 performance is not out of the norm.  The 2017 team had a stretch of 8-14, 2016 went 9-13 a bunch of times, 2013 went 10-12 a bunch.  How they got here is not ideal but if they are getting ready to take off, and it is worth noting that they have played just six home games while playing 16 on the road, this is the time to do it.

Jose is an Absurd Kahuna Posted: April 22, 2019 at 08:56 AM | 15 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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