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— Where Thinking Red Sox Fans Obsess about the Sox

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Just How We Drew It Up

Get swept by the Orioles, then sweep the reigning AL Champions. Didn’t see that coming.

I suspect a lot of us see the first series as the kind of disappointing, 2020 all over again, mess of a team we’d expected, and the second series as a fluke. Some of us might see the second series - solid hitting, promising bullpen, capable starters when healthy - as the true expectation, and the first series as a fluke. Regardless of what your expectation of the team this year, you probably saw enough to confirm your prior beliefs and everything else is a small sample to be dismissed. Hey! Everyone’s correct! #highfivesinalldirections

While the armchair analyst would say the truth is probably somewhere in between, I am actually sitting in a desk chair and can therefore say… well, the truth is probably somewhere in between.

The optimist in me - which, let’s be honest, is me - sees plenty of differences between 2020 and this year, even in just this small sample:

STREAKS

The Sox are at 3-3 with a strange path there: they followed a 3-game losing streak with a 3-game winning streak. In 2020 Boston’s longest winning streak was 3, which they did twice. Their first wasn’t until games 25-27 (of 60, remember).

By that point they’d already had two separate 4-game losing streaks, and a 9-game losing streak. 17 of their first 24 games were parts of losing streaks worse than what we saw at the start of this season.

JDM SMASH

I told you if JD Martinez could watch video of his at-bats during the game and make adjustments - something he had success with in his career until in-game video was prohibited for 2020 - he’d bounce back. I mean, he’s not going to hit a 1400 OPS on the season. But last year he had only one 6-game stretch (.440 OBP, .667 SLG during August 10-15) that could arguably compare with this, and not much outside of that. This is a good sign.

IF WE PRETEND GARRETT RICHARDS DOESN’T EXIST…

The rotation - without arguably their two best pitchers in Rodriguez and Sale - pitched damn well. Tanner Houck and Nick Pivetta demonstrated they might belong, even if they might not belong for long. (Houck has already been sent down to make room for Rodriguez’s first start.) And the bullpen did well, too.


What are your thoughts on what this team really is, given what you’ve seen so far?

villageidiom Posted: April 07, 2021 at 08:12 PM | 38 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. UnclePab Posted: April 08, 2021 at 02:54 PM (#6012398)
As much as I'd love for the Rays-sweeping version of the team to be the "real" team, I think the most boring answer is probably also the most true: They're somewhere in between. I do think they can be much closer to the Rays series Sox than the O's series Sox though.

Ask me again after today's game; depending on how that goes, I'll probably swing all the way to either "they stink again!" or "they're the real deal!".
   2. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: April 08, 2021 at 03:23 PM (#6012402)
I think the "real" Red Sox are what we've seen over the first six games. This is kind of what happens with a .500 team. They look like they can't win a game against little leaguers then they can dominate the '27 Yankees. The early 80s Sox were like this.

"JESUS CHRIST Reid Nichols and Glenn Hoffman are playing key roles? Gary Allenson getting regular at bats? Mark Clear can't throw strikes! They suck."

"Hurst-Ojeda-Tudor, when's the last time a team had three great lefties in a row in the rotation? And when Mark Clear has that slurve going he is unhittable and Dave Stapleton's versatility is such a weapon!"

I agree with vi about the pitching. It's been very encouraging and I think that's critical. The biggest frustration of last year, especially those first 25 games or so, was how often they were 5-0 in the third. Just every night the game was over in time for NCIS to come on. I was thinking during the game on Tuesday night when it looked like they would lose on a few occasions. Even though they were down it was fun. Franchy's play in left, Verdugo doing Verdugo things, JD raking and the great start from Perez were fun. Last year just had so much "oh ####, here we go again" so often.
   3. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: April 08, 2021 at 04:04 PM (#6012411)
The Cleaver! That's what Clear's slider/curveball/frisbee thing was called!
   4. The Mighty Quintana Posted: April 08, 2021 at 05:11 PM (#6012426)
If we're stretching the 1981-82 parallels, I hope they don't let Duran waste any more time in the minors like they did Wade Boggs.
   5. pikepredator Posted: April 08, 2021 at 05:16 PM (#6012427)
I certainly feel better about it than I would've if they'd swept the Orioles and then gotten swept by the Rays. Not just the sequencing, they looked good sweeping the Rays. Looking good against the Orioles isn't as hard.

They look good today. E-Rod settled in after the HR in the first.
   6. villageidiom Posted: April 08, 2021 at 05:29 PM (#6012434)
Rodriguez was encouraging. And the offense is getting good at producing crooked numbers on the scoreboard.
   7. UnclePab Posted: April 08, 2021 at 06:56 PM (#6012477)
Another great outing from Whitlock too.
   8. villageidiom Posted: April 08, 2021 at 11:28 PM (#6012541)
Yes, I'm very pleased with TGG* to this point.

* TGG = The Good** Garrett

** Probably too early*** to lock this in as a nickname.

*** Not stopping me.
   9. villageidiom Posted: April 09, 2021 at 09:40 AM (#6012572)
Boston doesn't even play today, but they are guaranteed to end the night no worse than tied for first place.

Garrett Richards (TBG) starts tomorrow night. Let's hope "B" stands for "better".
   10. villageidiom Posted: April 10, 2021 at 10:42 PM (#6012755)
Alone in 1st. Just how we drew it up.
   11. UnclePab Posted: April 11, 2021 at 05:45 PM (#6012842)
This has been so much more fun than the first series (obviously). To keep my enthusiasm in check, I'm reminding myself they had 1 good series against the Rays, and are only .500 against the lowly Orioles.

But still. This has been fun.
   12. villageidiom Posted: April 11, 2021 at 08:02 PM (#6012854)
Oh, this has been a lot of fun. JDM is closing in on his 2020 HR total.

The bullpen did not have a good day, but they could afford not to have a good day. Pivetta did a good job in his 2nd start of the season, a day after Garrett Richards redeemed himself. It was the Orioles, but it was good to see.

The Twins will be a good test.
   13. UnclePab Posted: April 13, 2021 at 07:16 PM (#6013280)
Nice to see Bobby D coming through with two big RBI doubles today.
   14. Bad Fish Posted: April 13, 2021 at 08:47 PM (#6013294)
Man, first 10 in the book and 7-3, the hard way.
   15. villageidiom Posted: April 13, 2021 at 09:40 PM (#6013305)
Nice to see Bobby D coming through with two big RBI doubles today.
I was watching the game up until the inning before they scored the 3rd run. A few minutes later I look at Gameday and it says they're up 3-2 and I check to see how the 3rd run scored. It says something like "B Dalbec line drive double to right field, C Arroyo scores" and my first reaction was "No, the 3rd run, not the 2nd run." I was sure Gameday was broken.

Barnes + Sawamura + Whitlock + Ottavino: 1.35 ERA, 20.0 IP, 9 H, 8 BB, 28 K.
.......... Barnes + Sawamura + Whitlock: 0.00 ERA, 16.2 IP, 4 H, 5 BB, 24 K.
   16. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: April 14, 2021 at 08:27 AM (#6013341)
Hot damn this has been fun. You aren't as good as you look when you win or as bad as you look when you lose etc...etc...but very impressive. Remy gushed about it yesterday but I think he was right too, the fact that Dalbec was smoking the ball to right yesterday is a good sign. His track record is one of adjustments so it's good to see that happening.
   17. jmurph Posted: April 14, 2021 at 08:58 AM (#6013344)
I have to say I did not see 159-3 coming, and yet here we are. I'd like to see them start to strategically rest guys, I'm comfortable slipping down to merely 150 or so wins if it means everyone is ready for the postseason.
   18. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: April 14, 2021 at 09:09 AM (#6013347)
I don't know jmurph, I think you gotta keep the pedal down. You don't want to go in having lost 6 of your last 152. That kind of slump can be fatal.
   19. jmurph Posted: April 14, 2021 at 10:59 AM (#6013355)
That's actually a great point, I hadn't thought of that.
   20. pikepredator Posted: April 14, 2021 at 11:33 AM (#6013358)
Super fun. I find myself wondering how much you can tell by a team when they have a winning streak of this nature . . . they may well be better than I was thinking. How many .500 teams have streaks like this?

Wait wait don't tell me . . . if the answer ends up being "lots of them" (as I suspect), I don't want to know the truth. This is so much fun, I just want to enjoy the ride.
   21. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: April 14, 2021 at 01:54 PM (#6013372)
How many .500 teams have streaks like this?


I think this team is well situated to be seriously hit or miss this year. When ten in a row, lose ten in a row. Side note I went to Stathead to ask the exact question you asked about 7 game winning streaks and discovered the ability to do such a search is temporarily unavailable. A request to technical support resulted in them telling me they had to temporarily remove that feature but it is coming back also with the ability to do more in depth searches based on things like homers during X number of games.
   22. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: April 14, 2021 at 03:04 PM (#6013388)
In bad though not surprising news Bryan Mata had Tommy John surgery yesterday.
   23. pikepredator Posted: April 14, 2021 at 05:00 PM (#6013429)
8 game winning streaks


FTFY
   24. villageidiom Posted: April 14, 2021 at 08:45 PM (#6013468)
Ahem. 9 game winning streak.
   25. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: April 14, 2021 at 08:48 PM (#6013469)
Dan Shaughnessy made the valid point (I know I was surprised too) that Verdugo’s catch wasn’t Benintendi-like so much as the catch Carl Crawford didn’t make at the end of 2011.
   26. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: April 14, 2021 at 09:05 PM (#6013470)
I have to say: I kind of like the 7-inning doubleheaders more than I thought I would.

Also: While I am excited about the start of this season, this is not a *young* team. The only position players on the roster who have a plate appearance and are 25 or younger are Devers and Verdugo. There are a few more pitchers who are 25 or younger: Whitlock, Houck, and Darwinzon Hernandez.

What's nice about the dynamic going on so far is that this team was never designed to be truly competitive in 2021 - it was designed to be a better team, with no new significant financial commitments taken on, and with young talent being accumulated via trades, draftee development, or finding diamonds in the rough (Whitlock, for example). If they can be competitive in 2021 with a bunch of short-term stopgaps like Hernandez, Gonzalez, Renfroe, Perez, Richards, Andriese, and others, buying time to let young players develop, that's ideal.

Meanwhile, we just keep trying to figure out who is worth having around for 2022-2023 in significant roles. Early on, probably Pivetta, Whitlock, and Houck have done the most to show they should be considered part of the next "core". It is early, but this is fun to watch.
   27. Bad Fish Posted: April 14, 2021 at 09:14 PM (#6013474)
I like 7 innings period, it is much more digestible, allows starter to go relatively longer into the game, all without bastardizing the basic mechanics of the game.
   28. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: April 14, 2021 at 09:30 PM (#6013481)
Someone mentioned in another tread they had tickets for sometime in May and I joked that they'd be 26-3 by the time his game rolled around....looking good!

Funnily enough, if they were 48-61 and had a 9 game winning streak; would we really notice? Winning at the beginning is always a hoot and right now it's one of those "who's going to get it done today" type of deals. Let's enjoy the ride and if they can parlay the good start into 88-90 wins and squeeze into the playoffs, then that would be great.
   29. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: April 15, 2021 at 12:15 PM (#6013580)
I have a lot of confidence in Chaim Bloom - clearly, he has earned some capital from the fan base in his first year-plus as GM. Along those lines, if the team is in the hunt for a WC spot late this year (an 85-win pace probably would do that), then I am not worried he is going to give up young players/prospects for a rental or something. Likewise, if the team is fading as the summer goes on, and it looks like more of a 75-80 win team (which is more like where I think they'll eventually end up), then I have confidence he won't hesitate to trade players who aren't part of the long-term plan if he can continue to get young talent from a contender. 2022 will probably be the first season under Bloom where there will be some expectation that the team is actually trying to compete for a legit playoff run.
   30. pikepredator Posted: April 15, 2021 at 04:02 PM (#6013632)
Damn, my heart is pounding!!
   31. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: April 15, 2021 at 04:56 PM (#6013652)
####### Cora. Bring back Ron Roenicke!

Realized this afternoon that if things stay as is Monday (the first game I'll be at since 2019) will be Rodon vs. Eovaldi which would be nice.
   32. pikepredator Posted: April 15, 2021 at 05:39 PM (#6013671)
That was as exciting as a loss can be and a really fun end to a great run.
   33. Nasty Nate Posted: April 15, 2021 at 06:02 PM (#6013677)
Realized this afternoon that if things stay as is Monday (the first game I'll be at since 2019) will be Rodon vs. Eovaldi which would be nice.
If there is a rainout this weekend, it would likely be Giolito, which would be a pretty good consolation.
   34. villageidiom Posted: April 15, 2021 at 06:39 PM (#6013685)
That was as exciting as a loss can be and a really fun end to a great run.
Agreed. Like, when the Twins scored the final run I almost couldn't believe the game was over.

That was Boston's first road loss of the year. They were, for many days now, the only team undefeated on the road.
   35. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: April 15, 2021 at 06:48 PM (#6013687)
I was up early in Sydney town this morning, about 5:45 and decided to watch the last 2 innings. Well those are the only 2 innings I've watched all season and I'm thinking that I'm the cooler so will not watch any more games unless they have a HUGE lead.
   36. Darren Posted: April 16, 2021 at 01:31 PM (#6013808)
Stop watching, Hugh!!!
   37. Nasty Nate Posted: April 17, 2021 at 01:48 PM (#6013986)
Houck-a-mania returns tomorrow, brother
   38. pikepredator Posted: April 28, 2021 at 01:19 PM (#6015848)
I'm still very much enjoying this ride. I'm glad they've avoided a tailspin when the hot streak ended and they faced a stretch of lots of games without days off. They are continuing to play solid baseball . . . they're not giving up when they're down, and they're not giving up leads when they have them. All facets are sounding good (I can't say looking good because I listen to WEEI on mlbradio) and it has been a wicked fun April.

Is there any relationship between posting this today/now and tonight's opposing pitcher? Pshaw!

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