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— Where Thinking Red Sox Fans Obsess about the Sox

Sunday, September 26, 2021

That Didn’t Go Well, But The Situation Is Still Very Good

That didn’t go entirely well but it’s not nearly a disaster either.  As I said prior to the series that was a lot bigger for the Yankees than it was for the Sox and I said that assuming the Blue Jays would sweep the Twins rather than splitting with them.

The Sox magic number is now 6 for a Wild Card berth (8 to take out the Yankees).  All in all the situation is still good. The Sox fundamentally have their fate in their hands.  Winning four out of six in Baltimore and Washington is more than feasible and with New York and Toronto playing this week they are assured of getting some help (and puts Seattle who are playing Oakland this week in a position of needing to win out).

As for the weekend, there isn’t a lot to say.  Eovaldi simply did not pitch well but encouragingly Pivetta did.  We’ve talked all year about the Sox being flawed in a variety of ways and that was on display particularly on Saturday when the Sox first couldn’t take advantage of a couple of early opportunities to pad the lead and then in the 8th when the bullpen couldn’t get the job done.

On Sunday’s game the Sox flaws were evident again.  Dalbec should have caught the ball that Judge hit and presumably the Sox dugout was telling him he had room.  Then I assume Cora was either told not to review the strikeout or it was just not a reviewable play. 

But as I said earlier, the Sox are still in very good shape.  The biggest loser this weekend is definitely Toronto.  They need to win their series with the Yankees and realistically a sweep may be necessary for them.  The two losses to the Twins is a killer.

Below are the scenarios for New York and Toronto after their series.  The Sox at 88-69 should be expecting to be on 90 wins if not 91 come Friday morning.  Put that in with the standings below and the Sox should be fine.  The Sox have been basically the .500 team we expected in the second half.  They have struggled with the good teams but have handled bad teams well.  92 has been the official Sox Therapy target for awhile and that should get it done.  Assuming the Sox win 2 out of 3 (at least) there is no scenario where they don’t hold a playoff spot Friday morning.

Toronto Sweeps
TOR 90-69
NYY 89-70

Toronto 2-1
NYY 90-69
TOR 89-70

New York 2-1
NYY 91-68
TOR 88-71

New York Sweeps
NYY 92-67
TOR 87-72

Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: September 26, 2021 at 10:36 PM | 72 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: September 27, 2021 at 01:36 AM (#6041846)
Yes, it's nice to still be in a good position to make the WC game, but geez it would've been real sweet to put NY to the sword and really dent their chances. Now they are just lingering around like a fart in a lift.
   2. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: September 27, 2021 at 08:06 AM (#6041852)
Yeah it was a disappointing weekend that's for sure. Still, in a very good situation. Just gotta take care of business now.
   3. Darren Posted: September 27, 2021 at 09:24 AM (#6041859)
I can't help but feel like someone jinxed the Red Sox at some point.
   4. Nasty Nate Posted: September 27, 2021 at 09:39 AM (#6041866)
That didn’t go entirely well but it’s not nearly a disaster either.
This cracks me up. I guess "disaster" would have to be a sweep plus Eovaldi, Bogaerts, and Devers colliding while going after a popup and all getting concussed.
   5. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: September 27, 2021 at 09:39 AM (#6041867)
A lot of times on social media, the divide is between (at the risk of oversimplifying) those who embrace sabermetrics, advanced analytics, etc., and those who think baseball is getting "overthought" to the point where the sport is aesthetically displeasing, and just less fun.

There is some of that with the 2021 Red Sox fan base, but the divide is actually quite a bit different, at this point.

On one side, you have people (like me) who always saw 2021 as a rebuilding year, the first year after the 2020 teardown. A best-case scenario would be about a .500 team that, by the end of the year, would be introducing a growing number of young players who could be a part of the next great Red Sox teams. I didn't want Bloom to make long-term commitments to guys who would marginally improve the team right now, but have nothing to do with building a champion a few years from now. And I didn't want the team, tantalized by maybe winning a wild card spot, to deviate from the plan just to pick up some rentals. When the team wildly exceeded expectations through the first 90 games or so, none of the above changed. Being 54-32, and up 4 games in the division, came largely because most of the short-term veteran acquisitions were playing at the top of their range: Hernandez, Renfroe, Ottavino, Richards, Perez, etc. A couple of younger acquisitions came out of nowhere to become key contributors: Whitlock, Pivetta, Arroyo. And the team's best players generally were very healthy: Bogaerts, Devers, Eovaldi, Verdugo, Barnes. So the idea that with six games to go, the team is at 88 wins, and is still in the 2nd wild card spot, with a very good chance of hosting the wild card game, is amazing. This is not a championship team, but a lot of good things have happened, they have provided much joy this year, and the future is bright. Let's go 4-2 this week (and maybe even 3-3 will do it), and we'll be in the playoffs. Celebrate!

On the other side, you have people who see a team that is being let off the hook a little bit for having set 2021 expectations low, having one of the top payrolls in the sports, and now is getting praised for its scrappy underdog local nine having a chance to make a wild card game as the road team when not that long ago they were 54-32 (without Chris Sale!), and clearly ahead of schedule on the rebuild. In sports, you never know when you'll have another chance at a championship, so when you have a chance to make a playoff run, you go for it. At the deadline, while the Dodgers, Yankees, Blue Jays, White Sox, A's and others went big for talent, the Red Sox refused to part with any top-tier minor-league talent, and picked up a couple of pretty fungible bullpen arms and a player (Schwarber) who definitely can hit the baseball, but is completely mismatched positionally from what the team needed. In fact, his acquisition coincided with some of the worst defense of the season for the team. The MLB playoffs have become more like the NCAA tournament, where making the playoffs is the goal - once you get there, crazy s**t can happen. Now, our bullpen is completely out of gas, our starting rotation is a stud short, and we're stuck playing defensive musical chairs every night just so we can figure out how to get Schwarber in the game. Chaim Bloom needs to stop acting like this is some small-market, "Moneyball out of Necessity" market, and realize that the expectations for 2021 reset by the midpoint of the season.

The divide is really about what the correct expectations for the 2021 team should have been once they got off to such a big first half of the season. To me, they never really changed: Yeah, they started 54-32, but since then, they are 34-36. If they go 4-2 this week, they will have gone 38-38 over about half a season...and that's what I thought they'd be this year. The only difference is, the hot start gave them the cushion to compete for a wild card. I guess there is an underlying "In Chaim We Trust" vs "Bloom is a numbers geek" undertone to this divide, but it is still about whether or not you think expectations should have been raised at the half way point...
   6. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: September 27, 2021 at 09:56 AM (#6041870)
This cracks me up. I guess "disaster" would have to be a sweep plus Eovaldi, Bogaerts, and Devers colliding while going after a popup and all getting concussed.


Yeah I wasn't really sure how to phrase it. The Sox are still in REALLY good shape and I wanted to reflect that. I fully expect to be playing baseball a week from Tuesday. Given this weekend I suspect that baseball will be played in the Bronx however.
   7. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: September 27, 2021 at 10:00 AM (#6041874)
SBPT continues to be pretty spot on in my opinion. One thing about this weekend that struck me is that if I'm Tampa Bay I feel pretty good about playing either Boston or New York.

I have many many thoughts about the future (spoiler: it looks really bright) but I want to enjoy this ride before I get too far down that path.
   8. Textbook Editor Posted: September 27, 2021 at 10:34 AM (#6041883)
Speaking of the future to ignore the present... Given the absurdly low payroll commitments for 2022 and going forward (though, yes, Xander and Devers need to be signed, etc.) I hope they make a serious play for Schwarber this off-season. I realize he's basically a DH (though in theory he could get games at LF/1B), but they're not re-signing Martinez after 2022 and there's a very real chance Martinez looks toasty all next year. I'm really not sure what kind of contract gets that done, but I'd really like to see it happen.

I haven't seen it mentioned much, but shouldn't we be working on the assumption Sale opts out after next season? I know people would say it might depend on how he throws, but I'd have to imagine after 2022--unless he really stinks--he'd command more than the current 3/$75 he's due (without factoring in possible increases due to CYA finishes, etc.).

   9. Nasty Nate Posted: September 27, 2021 at 11:20 AM (#6041895)
I haven't seen it mentioned much, but shouldn't we be working on the assumption Sale opts out after next season? I know people would say it might depend on how he throws, but I'd have to imagine after 2022--unless he really stinks--he'd command more than the current 3/$75 he's due (without factoring in possible increases due to CYA finishes, etc.).
Yes generally, but the it-might-depends are too big to brush aside given his age, position, and surgery.
   10. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 27, 2021 at 11:54 AM (#6041905)
Yeah I wasn't really sure how to phrase it. The Sox are still in REALLY good shape and I wanted to reflect that. I fully expect to be playing baseball a week from Tuesday. Given this weekend I suspect that baseball will be played in the Bronx however.

When you're in a 3 for 2 spot situation, you're always in a pretty good spot, and with the schedule, yeah. You should expect the Sox to get a WC. I'd say solid 80% chance.
   11. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: September 27, 2021 at 12:31 PM (#6041911)
If the Sox can't sweep a pair of one man teams on the road when half the crowd will likely be cheering them on, and with their two main rivals going head to head,** they don't deserve to be in the postseason. They couldn't have asked for a better schedule if Red Sox Nation had drawn it up.

** Just don't think of 2011, but unlike now, the Orioles were then a competitive September team. And Means pitched yesterday.
   12. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: September 27, 2021 at 01:53 PM (#6041935)
When you're in a 3 for 2 spot situation, you're always in a pretty good spot, and with the schedule, yeah. You should expect the Sox to get a WC. I'd say solid 80% chance.


That's about where I am. I like that all three teams have their fate in their hands. Any team that goes 6-0 (not likely) gets in. Can't ask for more than that.
   13. villageidiom Posted: September 27, 2021 at 04:26 PM (#6041986)
Boston's real magic number is 5, right? If they win 5 they get to 93 wins. One of NY or Toronto is guaranteed not to get to 93 based on the scenarios you laid out above. I know magic numbers don't take schedule into account, so officially it's 6; but it's really 5.
   14. villageidiom Posted: September 27, 2021 at 04:36 PM (#6041989)
Of course, all of that ignores the Mariners. They're 2 games behind the Red Sox with 6 to play, so the magic number is still 5 for Boston. But it means that the Yankees (potentially) sweeping Toronto isn't enough to take the heat off Boston.
   15. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: September 27, 2021 at 04:45 PM (#6041994)
I honestly think it's 4 vi. I think it's unlikely for both Toronto and New York to get to 92. It's possible but I think if the Sox get there they are good to go.

Seattle needs to win out to get to 92 and they are playing Oakland who are not eliminated yet (only a game behind the Mariners) so again, the schedule favors the Sox there.
   16. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: September 27, 2021 at 05:19 PM (#6042008)
I haven't seen it mentioned much, but shouldn't we be working on the assumption Sale opts out after next season? I know people would say it might depend on how he throws, but I'd have to imagine after 2022--unless he really stinks--he'd command more than the current 3/$75 he's due (without factoring in possible increases due to CYA finishes, etc.).


Yes generally, but the it-might-depends are too big to brush aside given his age, position, and surgery.

Wasn't the general thinking re: Price and his opt out (I'm like 90% certain this was Price I am thinking of) that one should *hope* the player opts out, because it means they had at the least a good season, and if they don't opt out it's because they either sucked or got hurt?

I am happy with this season, but I don't necessarily have such bright feelings for the next couple of years. Namely the starting rotation is still a mess:

E-Rod is a FA, any takers on what his actual talent level is?
Eovaldi is a FA after next year, going into his age 33 season
Pivetta certainly could be a middle of the rotation guy
Richards could be an option next year for $10M, then he's a FA
Houk could be good, but doesn't get far in games
Sale as noted can opt out after 2022

Seabold is next on deck. Is there anybody else in the minors?

So at a minimum the Sox need one FA starting pitchers for next year (assuming Sale/Eovaldi/Pivetta/Houk/Seabold - a 6th is required), and potentially two more after 2022.

So, so much went right for the rotation this year, tough to see that luck continuing.
   17. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 27, 2021 at 05:20 PM (#6042009)
Seattle needs to win out to get to 92 and they are playing Oakland who are not eliminated yet (only a game behind the Mariners) so again, the schedule favors the Sox there.

The Mariners are also not very good. They're playing a superior team in Oakland, and a non-awful team in Anaheim. It's really hard to see them winning two more games than the Red Sox in the final 6.

If the Red Sox go 2-4 or something, they probably won't have to worry about Seattle passing them; they'll be toast already.
   18. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 27, 2021 at 05:25 PM (#6042011)
When you're in a 3 for 2 spot situation, you're always in a pretty good spot, and with the schedule, yeah. You should expect the Sox to get a WC. I'd say solid 80% chance.


That's about where I am.

To pat us both on the back, Dan Szymborski ran the Zips over at Fangraphs; he gives the Sox an 80.2% chance of making it, the Yankees 74.7%, Toronto 41.3%, Seattle 3.3% and Oakland 0.6%.

https://blogs.fangraphs.com/one-last-week-for-all-the-marbles-zips-projects-the-postseason-home-stretch/
   19. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 27, 2021 at 06:48 PM (#6042029)
I’m not sure those odds calculations give sufficient weight to who is playing well and who isn’t. Of course, that can change rather quickly, too. Every day is a new adventure in the final week of a playoff race.

My guess is that the Yankees are in, likely as the 1st Wildcard, if they win the series in Toronto, which probably gets Boston in too, barring a collapse in Baltimore & Washington.
   20. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: September 27, 2021 at 08:22 PM (#6042039)
I’m not sure those odds calculations give sufficient weight to who is playing well and who isn’t.


One more reason I feel good about the Sox. Unless you only count this weekend (and even then they could have easily won 2 of 3) they are 7-3 in their last 10, 11-9 in the last 20 and 17-13 in the last 30. As Alex Speier noted they have won 7 of their last 8 series against sub-.500 teams since the ASB.
   21. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 27, 2021 at 10:36 PM (#6042055)
I’m not sure those odds calculations give sufficient weight to who is playing well and who isn’t. Of course, that can change rather quickly, too. Every day is a new adventure in the final week of a playoff race.

Yeah, I don''t think that matters. The Yankees were unbeatable for two weeks, then they lost 11 of 13. They looked toasty. Then they go 11-4, sweeping the Red Sox in Fenway.

Are they playing well, or badly? I sure don't know.
   22. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: September 28, 2021 at 08:37 AM (#6042087)
This has been the weirdest race I can remember. It seems like every time one of Boston, New York or Toronto gets hot things turn dramatically pretty quickly.
   23. Darren Posted: September 28, 2021 at 11:39 AM (#6042115)
@SBPT in #5, I think I'd come down strongly on the opposite side from you in that divide.


On the other side, you have people who see a team that is being let off the hook a little bit for having set 2021 expectations low, having one of the top payrolls in the sports, and now is getting praised for its scrappy underdog local nine having a chance to make a wild card game as the road team when not that long ago they were 54-32 (without Chris Sale!), and clearly ahead of schedule on the rebuild.


The first part of this sentence describes my feelings pretty well. As I'm sure everyone here recalls, I defended the trade of Betts prior to 2020. The team made big point about having to RESET the payroll tax, and even celebrated when they achieved this. The implication being that they would go back to going over as needed. Then the offseason started and for some reason, without any explanation, everyone (including the press bizarrely) started treating $210 mil as a hard limit on the Sox spending. Article and after article would say that the Sox had about XXX dollars to spend to improve the team, with that amount being how much they were below $210 mil. (Speier and the Athletic writers did this a lot.) They were apparently "right" to do so because the team ended treating it as a hard limit as well.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox said they planned to be competitive in 2021 but refused to add players who would have clearly filled holes. Even if they wanted to avoid long-term deals for now, players like Wong, Semien, Morton, Cruz, Kluber, Minor, etc. available at positions of need. But they held back before the season and then again crafted their moves at the deadline to stay under the limit.
   24. Textbook Editor Posted: September 28, 2021 at 11:17 PM (#6042266)
With the results tonight--and if Seattle wins they move to within 0.5 games of the Red Sox, I'd have to say I'll be rooting for a Yankees sweep from here on in, as I'd prefer to have the chance to be 3 up on Toronto with 3 to play come Friday morning. Of course, this assumes we actually win the next two games.

It would be fun to win up with everyone losing out and making the playoffs that way.

#23--A minor quibble... Unless you wanted JD Martinez to be the everyday LF, Nelson Cruz would not have filled a position of need, as he hasn't played in the field since 2018. And not that he's really upped his trade value, but after 2020 Martinez had basically zero trade value unless you ate salary. In hindsight, of course, 29 teams would have loved to sign Morton; I'm still not sure I understand what happened there.

I think tonight convinced me I want Eovaldi starting the WC game should we even make it. Have Sale maybe available out of the pen, but I would start Eovaldi. (Of course this presupposes Sale would even be available, as it's looking more likely he'll have to start Sunday each day...)
   25. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: September 29, 2021 at 01:45 AM (#6042280)
Semien, Morton,


Holy cr*p. Imagine if they had signed Semien to play 2B and Morton as another starter. That would've been some real genius right there.
   26. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: September 29, 2021 at 08:19 AM (#6042291)
Last night, after the Red Sox lost, a fairly prominent voice on "Red Sox Twitter" expressed their frustration, saying something like, "You know what? Maybe Blue Jays are better than us!"

To which I'd say, the Blue Jays - by most objective measures - are better than the Red Sox at this point, and perhaps a lot better. Here's the Pythagorean numbers vs actual numbers:

Rays 97-60, pyth is 97-60
NYY 90-67, pyth is 84-73
BOS is 88-69, pyth is 85-73
TOR 87-70, pyth is 95-62

Watching the Red Sox and Blue Jays slowly, inexorably converge as the expected outcomes slowly meet the actual outcomes has been one of the underlying stories of the 2021 season, in my opinion. I mean, look at this month by month of the two teams:

Toronto:
April 12-12, outscored opponents 107-90
May 15-13, outscored opponents 154-129
June 14-12, outscored opponents 142-115
July 12-11, outscored opponents 120-86
August 16-14, outscored opponents 128-115
September 18-8, outscored opponents 159-108

Now, the Red Sox:
April 17-10, outscored opponents 129-105
May 15-11, outscored opponents 140-119
June 18-10, outscored opponents 141-138
July 13-12, outscored opponents 118-117
August 12-16, outscored opponents 147-141
September 13-10, outscored opponents 130-113

June, which was probably the high-water mark for the Red Sox this year, was crazy: They went 18-10 despite outscoring opponents for the month by three runs. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays went only 12-11 in July, despite outscoring their opponents 120-86 for the month.

The Red Sox this season are like the #12 seed in the NCAA basketball tourney who go crazy with three-pointers in the first ten minutes, the high-seeded team starts off slow, and it is 31-15 ten minutes into the game. Then, the rest of the game becomes a question: Did the inferior team build enough of a lead to survive the clear difference in ability that has now begun to re-assert itself?

That's the 2021 season for the Red Sox. They were never a 54-32 team, really; they are a .500-ish team that hit all their threes, so to speak, in the first half of the season, and with five games to go, are somehow still in the playoffs (by the smallest possible margin, but still...). Tonight, they have their best pitcher this season, Eovaldi, pitching against the worst team in baseball, in a game Boston really has to win if they want to make the playoffs.

For much of the second half, I've been suggesting that this is an 81-win team that, because of their fast start, had become about an 88-win team, and the question would be whether or not 88 wins was enough to make the playoffs. We can now say that it will not quite be enough, and that it will probably take 90 or 91 wins to make the playoffs. Are there are two or three wins left in this final time around the Red Sox rotation?
   27. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: September 29, 2021 at 08:24 AM (#6042293)
The Red Sox this season are like the #12 seed in the NCAA basketball tourney who go crazy with three-pointers in the first ten minutes, the high-seeded team starts off slow, and it is 31-15 ten minutes into the game. Then, the rest of the game becomes a question: Did the inferior team build enough of a lead to survive the clear difference in ability that has now begun to re-assert itself?


I like this description a LOT. I shall be stealing it and telling people it is my own.
   28. Textbook Editor Posted: September 29, 2021 at 08:29 AM (#6042295)
Something seems odd about Pythag this season. It seems like there’s more than the normal over- and under- performance, and I wonder if it has to do with the extra inning/double header rules in place skewing things. Again, not looking, it certainly has seemed that far more runs have been scored in extra inning games, and I do wonder if that plays a small part (a win or two either way).

Now Seattle is essentially tied as well (assuming they win the game in hand). The last 4 days have certainly made it pretty inevitable there will be a need for a Sale start on the final day. If there’s a 3-way tie for the last WC spot that would push the WC game to Wednesday right?

It would be fun for baseball for Seattle to sneak in and make a run to the WS.
   29. Darren Posted: September 29, 2021 at 10:29 AM (#6042311)
I'm seeing a lot of comparisons to 2011 (not here), but I'm just not feeling it at all. That team was a team that had won 89 games the year before, had a 99+ percent chance to make the playoffs at the end of August, then went 7-20 in September. This team has been mostly good this year and is now 13-10 in September. If they don't make it, it will be a big bummer, but nothing like 2011.
   30. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: September 29, 2021 at 10:37 AM (#6042313)
Yeah I've seen the same stuff, it's nonsense. This has been a great season regardless of what happens this week. The 2011 team was a legit World Series contender (if not favorite). I'm rooting but also just enjoying the ride.
   31. Nasty Nate Posted: September 29, 2021 at 12:00 PM (#6042329)
Both had 4 game losing streaks near the end while fighting for a playoff berth. Games 154-157 this year; games 155-158 in 2011.
   32. pikepredator Posted: September 29, 2021 at 12:04 PM (#6042330)
This still IS a great season! The drama is so exciting. Even if it's painful at times. It's better than being out of it in July.

Keep on hangin' on . . .
   33. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 29, 2021 at 12:05 PM (#6042331)
If there’s a 3-way tie for the last WC spot that would push the WC game to Wednesday right?
Haven’t seen that directly addressed, but there wouldn’t seem to be much choice. The question might be whether they’d play both Wildcard games Wednesday, or flip the NL into the Tuesday slot. My hunch is that we won’t see anything more complicated than a 2-way tie for the 2nd Wildcard, which would give us a Monday game. If I have it right, Seattle gets HFA in a tiebreaker game against Toronto, but not Boston or New York, which probably means no one will have to play Sunday, fly to Seattle, play Monday, and if they win fly back to the East Coast for the Wildcard game Tuesday. That’d be a challenge. Even a Monday game in the eastern time zone is a disadvantage for Tuesday.
   34. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: September 29, 2021 at 12:25 PM (#6042335)
Magic Numbers to make the WC game, as of this morning: Yankees 3, Red Sox 5, Mariners 6, Blue Jays 8, A's 9, Phillies 10. All other teams are either out or have already clinched a postseason spot.

As of now, the WC games would be Sox at NY and Cards at LA. If the Cardinals run the table and finish with a 22 game winning streak, that WC game will be one for the ages, and just imagine the thoughts that'd be going through the minds of the losing team. At this point the Giants might be rooting for the Dodgers.

P.S. Baseball's hottest team NOW has an OPS+ of 101 and an ERA+ of 97. The Dodgers' corresponding numbers are 103 AND 136.
   35. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: September 29, 2021 at 01:04 PM (#6042345)
This still IS a great season! The drama is so exciting. Even if it's painful at times. It's better than being out of it in July.


Amen brother.
   36. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 29, 2021 at 01:06 PM (#6042348)
This has been a great season regardless of what happens this week.
Not seeing much need to pre-spin a potential final week collapse. Boston’s has the easiest remaining schedule and faces starting pitchers with ERAs of 7.66, 7.61, 5.26, 2.73 & 5.85, which should make at least 3 wins quite likely, with that probably good enough for at least a tie for the 2nd Wildcard. Four wins would guarantee that if I have the permutations right.
   37. Darren Posted: September 29, 2021 at 01:10 PM (#6042349)
This has been a great season regardless of what happens this week.


Whoa, whoa, whoa, let's settle down here. :)
   38. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: September 29, 2021 at 01:16 PM (#6042351)
Not seeing much need to pre-spin a potential final week collapse. Boston’s has the easiest remaining schedule and faces starting pitchers with ERAs of 7.66, 7.61, 5.26, 2.73 & 5.85, which should make at least 3 wins quite likely, with that probably good enough for at least a tie for the 2nd Wildcard. Four wins would guarantee that if I have the permutations right.


Oh I still expect the Sox to make the playoffs, I was just responding to the nonsense that Darren and I have been seeing about 2011. It's a dumb comparison.

It's something that drives me nuts about fandom in all manners. Rather than just enjoying things everything needs to be overanalyzed rather than enjoyed in the moment. I say this a fan of not just sports but things like Doctor Who and Star Wars. There are always fair criticisms to be had but if you go into something trying to figure out what it means rather than just enjoying it stops being a lot of fun. End of rant.
   39. Darren Posted: September 29, 2021 at 01:37 PM (#6042356)
Not seeing much need to pre-spin a potential final week collapse. Boston’s has the easiest remaining schedule...


I agree here. The Sox are in the driver's seat. If they don't make the playoffs, it's a bummer.

Rather than just enjoying things everything needs to be overanalyzed rather than enjoyed in the moment.


It's not even over-analyzed. It's just pure blind rage and despair when things don't go your team's way. I can't believe how many Red Sox fans still act this way after all the success the team has had. Heck, I can't even understand the Mets fans who do this.
   40. Darren Posted: September 29, 2021 at 01:44 PM (#6042357)
On Sunday’s game the Sox flaws were evident again. Dalbec should have caught the ball that Judge hit and presumably the Sox dugout was telling him he had room.


Has anyone noticed how invested the Sox broadcast is in telling us that Dalbec has improved greatly on defense? He may be slightly better now, but man, he's still pretty bad.
   41. Darren Posted: September 29, 2021 at 01:51 PM (#6042360)
Holy cr*p. Imagine if they had signed Semien to play 2B and Morton as another starter. That would've been some real genius right there.


I think you might be teasing me! However, I'm trying to point out that there were ways to improve the team simply by spending money.
   42. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: September 29, 2021 at 02:06 PM (#6042363)
Has anyone noticed how invested the Sox broadcast is in telling us that Dalbec has improved greatly on defense? He may be slightly better now, but man, he's still pretty bad.

On that Judge foul popup the other night, Dalbec looked like an antivaxxer who'd just sighted Dr. Fauci.
   43. pikepredator Posted: September 29, 2021 at 02:11 PM (#6042365)
He has room to improve greatly, sure . . . but he's still bad and it's not like he was a whole lot more terrible previously . . .
   44. Darren Posted: September 29, 2021 at 02:23 PM (#6042370)
On that Judge foul popup the other night, Dalbec looked like an antivaxxer who'd just sighted Dr. Fauci.


Okay, we deserve this.
   45. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: September 29, 2021 at 10:19 PM (#6042476)
Red Sox win game. World is slightly better place to be.
   46. Textbook Editor Posted: September 29, 2021 at 10:23 PM (#6042478)
I think I'd prefer Eovaldi to Sale to start the WC game should we make it. If you want to have everyone BUT Sale available in the BP for the game, that would be fine too (Sale held back for possible G1 ALDS).

If there's a play-in game Monday I suppose timing-wise you have to start Sale and hold Eovaldi to start the WC game, but man I hope we don't get that scenario. The 3-way tie for the 2nd WC slot is still very much in play.
   47. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: September 30, 2021 at 08:23 AM (#6042512)
With Seattle winning again last night, a few things:

1) We are really close, with four days to go, to having a four-team cluster, aren't we? Seattle is off tonight; if Toronto and Boston win their games (probably the most likely single scenario tonight), then you'd have this, going into the final weekend:

Red Sox 90-69
Yankees 90-69
Toronto 89-70
Seattle 89-70

That Toronto-NY game tonight really is arguably the biggest game of the year for the AL WC. Also, it is pretty clear that there will be two AL teams that do not make the playoffs despite winning 90 games, which in the expanded WC era seems pretty unlikely. There are also pretty clearly going to be four teams in the AL East winning 90+ games. This happened from time to time in the pre-six division era, but has that happened since 1995?

2) I wrote the following on a thread about Seattle's incredible surge to the precipice of the playoffs, and how the most important (and unlikely) win of the year for the Red Sox was that 10-inning victory in Seattle earlier this month that now looms so large. I love the Red Sox, and have been thrilled with the surprising success of this team, but I'm also clear-eyed: They have not been very good for a long time now, and I've tried to articulate the length of that mediocrity in different ways. The stat below may be one of the better ways to describe it that I've found:

"If the Red Sox end up getting the second wild card, the most important series of the year will have ended up being the September trip to Seattle:

- They won two out of three. It was the first time Boston had won a series in Seattle since 2013.
- How weird was it that Boston won this series? The Red Sox have been pretty mediocre for the entire second half of the season, and are coasting on fumes at this point based off of a dynamic first 85 games of the season. Since winning three out of four at home against the Yankees July 22-25, the Red Sox have played ten series against teams with winning records: They have lost seven of them, split two of them, and won a grand total of one series against a winning team - out of ten such series - since July 25th: When they won two out of three against Seattle on the road.

I had marked that series down in my head as "let's at least win one of those three" - then, they split the first two games, and explode in the 10th inning of the final game of that series, and it turns out that might be the most important game of the year for both Seattle and Boston!"
   48. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: September 30, 2021 at 08:51 AM (#6042517)
Yeah that series in Seattle didn't feel that big at the time. Seattle was fading and the Sox were in a good position. It's not the Cardinals but what the Mariners have done is pretty remarkable.

Given the way things are going I think Eovaldi has to be in the bullpen Saturday and Sunday at this point. I don't know when or if they'd need him but it's almost certain that they will. Assuming that and Sale pitching on Sunday and I think you approach Tuesday as a bullpen game. Start Eovaldi, get 1 or 2 or maybe 3 out of him, go to Sale if you can and piece it together. No reason to let anyone see a pitcher twice in that game really.

The other guy who I think is a possible and reasonable WC game starter if we get there is Houck. Assuming the Yankees (or even the Blue Jays) the frisbee slider once or twice through the order is just fine.

But gotta get there first and what's the saying? God laughs when we plan? I think given the likelihood that all 162 games (and maybe 163 or even 164) will be necessary makes me think trying to figure out who starts a WC game is out of the question. Do we know how a four team tie for two spots works? At this point I think we can operate on the assumption that if the Sox are in a Wild Card game it's basically October 20, 2004 all over again. Throw whoever is available on the mound and see what happens (hopefully with the same success).
   49. villageidiom Posted: September 30, 2021 at 10:34 AM (#6042528)
It's not even over-analyzed. It's just pure blind rage and despair when things don't go your team's way. I can't believe how many Red Sox fans still act this way after all the success the team has had. Heck, I can't even understand the Mets fans who do this.
It's blind rage and despair, followed by overanalysis to seek an "objective" reason to justify the emotions.

Tomorrow is October 1, and Boston is guaranteed to start the day without having been eliminated from postseason contention. Best case is they enter October tied for the 1st wild card; worst case they will be in a 3-way tie for the 2nd wild card. That's nerve-wracking and crazy and all that... but it's also awesome.

The other thing to note here, I guess, is when you look at all four of these teams they all have significant flaws that will probably be exposed in the ALDS against the likes of Houston or Tampa Bay. But each of them is entirely capable of going on a freakish roll and winning it all. They are each different, yet they are all similar in that respect. I can't look at any of these four teams and think the two that don't make it were any more or less deserving than the two that do. (The fans being more deserving... that I could buy. Like, Seattle and Toronto fans deserve to see their teams make the postseason, for all they've put up with through the decades.) Obviously I'm rooting for Boston, but this is an awesome end to a season. I mean, there's a chance we wake up tomorrow morning and Oakland won't yet be eliminated. We're going into the last weekend of the season and eight AL teams are still alive in the postseason hunt. Eight! This is fantastic madness.
   50. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: September 30, 2021 at 10:37 AM (#6042530)
there's a chance we wake up tomorrow morning and Oakland won't yet be eliminated.


Have I got bad news for you.
   51. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: September 30, 2021 at 10:38 AM (#6042531)
The four-way tie scenario for two spots is surprisingly smart, in my opinion:

1) All four teams get designated as teams A, B, C, and D. How are they designated as such? MLB takes the combined record of each team against the other three teams, and whoever has the best winning percentage gets to pick which letter it gets designated as. The second-best winning percentage gets to pick second; the third-best gets to pick third; and the team with the worst winning percentage gets the final designation.

2) So, before we get to what it means to be team A, B, C or D, what are the winning percentages of the four teams involved?

Even though NY and Toronto have a game left against each other, it will not make a difference in the following order of records:

Boston will get first choice - They went 24-21 this year against the other three teams (10-9 vs both NY and TOR, and 4-3 vs SEA)
Toronto will get second choice. They went 22-21 (11-7 vs NY; 9-10 vs BOS; 2-4 vs SEA)
New York will get the third choice. They went 21-23 (9-10 vs BOS; 7-11 vs TOR; 5-2 vs SEA)
Seattle gets the final slot. They went 9-11. (2-5 vs NY; 3-4 vs BOS; 4-2 vs TOR)

(FWIW: Yet another way that final SEA vs BOS game was so important. If Boston had lost that game, Toronto could get the #1 slot with a win tonight, and Seattle would get the third slot, instead of the final slot.)

3) OK, so we know the order of the four teams. What does A, B, C, and D mean?
Team A will host Team B. The winner of that game will host the actual Wild Card game.
Team C will host Team D. The winner of that game will be the road team in the actual Wild Card game.

If you are Boston, you will obviously choose to be Team A: You get to host the play-in game, and if you win, you'll get to host the Wild Card game, too.

If you are Toronto, there is a bit of a choice to make: If you choose to be Team B, then you play Boston at Fenway...but if you win, you'll get to host the Wild Card game. If you choose to be Team C, then you'll host Seattle in the play-in game...but if you win, you travel to either NY or BOS for the Wild Card game.

If you are New York, you are clearly going to pick whatever Toronto doesn't pick: NY will either travel to Boston for the play-in game, or host Seattle for the play-in game.

If you are Seattle, you know you are traveling to Toronto or New York...and if you win that play-in game, you'll be the road team for the Wild Card game.

I find this a very elegant way to deal with a four-way tie, and it is something baseball can uniquely do, because of the relative ease of simply playing extra games. In football, you need 12 tiebreakers, because you can't have teams squeezing in an extra game on a Wednesday or something. Even in basketball and hockey, it is physically asking an awful lot to do something like this (although the NBA is sort of doing this with its mini-tourney with the #7-through-#10 seeds).

If I were Toronto, I think I would pick going to Boston for the play-in game, mainly because: 1) I would rather play Boston right now than Seattle, and 2) if I win the play-in game, I'm getting a home game for the Wild Card.

My choice might also depend on what happened with other teams' pitching over the weekend. If Boston has to survive a 16-inning marathon Sunday to make the playoffs, and then come back the next day in a play-in game, that is tough.

Last thought: It is fortuitous for the process that three of the four teams (and the only three teams that can host a game, it turns out) are about as close together as any three in baseball. Unfortunately for Seattle, they would have to fly across the country Sunday night for a Monday play-in game, but if they survived that game, they would only have a short flight to get to BOS/NY/TOR the next day. Ifthe four teams had been, say, Boston, Texas, Oakland, and Minnesota, this would be a less fair process.
   52. Nasty Nate Posted: September 30, 2021 at 10:43 AM (#6042533)
Thanks for the explanation, SBPT. That would be a fun scenario.
   53. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: September 30, 2021 at 10:46 AM (#6042534)
Yeah I was wondering about that, thanks SBPT.

Boy do you take B or C if you are Toronto? I think I take C, it gives me a better chance of advancing to the Wild Card game which is goal one.
   54. Textbook Editor Posted: September 30, 2021 at 10:53 AM (#6042536)
The other thing to note here, I guess, is when you look at all four of these teams they all have significant flaws that will probably be exposed in the ALDS against the likes of Houston or Tampa Bay. But each of them is entirely capable of going on a freakish roll and winning it all.


Was going to say this as well. In an odd way, even with a 5-game series, I think the Red Sox have a decent shot against TB, but the tricky part is they have to make it there first. They feel like a team that could ride a few stellar rotation turns and a lights-out 3 week hitting stretch into a WS victory. They could also get swept in the ALDS. Neither result would really surprise me. (Well, winning the WS would surprise me a bit, as them winning this year seems way more unlikely than even 2013 did.)

Still feels like a dead cat bounce to me, but I'd be happy to be wrong.
   55. pikepredator Posted: September 30, 2021 at 12:19 PM (#6042551)
Fantastic and clear explanation of the four-way-tie situation. It actually slowed my heart rate a little bit thinking through the options for all the teams before I realized "Crap the Sox REALLY need to beat Baltimore tonight . . ." But that's better than pretty much any other "needs to beat XXX Team" so, let's do this!

Thanks SBPT!!

   56. villageidiom Posted: September 30, 2021 at 01:22 PM (#6042558)
Have I got bad news for you.
Oops, totally misread that. For some reason I thought they had 5 games left (3 this weekend plus I assumed 2 makeup games). 4.5 back with 3 to play is not a good position.
   57. Textbook Editor Posted: September 30, 2021 at 08:57 PM (#6042656)
I think the situation is rapidly approaching not very good.
   58. Nasty Nate Posted: September 30, 2021 at 09:14 PM (#6042669)
I'd rather these bums just get eliminated instead of squeaking in and getting stomped in NY on Tuesday.
   59. Textbook Editor Posted: September 30, 2021 at 09:24 PM (#6042680)
I'd rather these bums just get eliminated instead of squeaking in and getting stomped in NY on Tuesday.


I said to TE, Jr. several times over the weekend that if the WC game is between the NYY and BOS at Fenway the Bucky Dent footage will run every 13 minutes or so during the game.

This isn't like 2011, because that felt like watching the wheels come off a car going 50 MPH and then skidding on its axles for about a mile on the highway before plunging off a cliff. This just feels like a car that's run out of gas coasting into a telephone pole.
   60. Textbook Editor Posted: September 30, 2021 at 09:26 PM (#6042682)
Two first-pitch outs for X tonight. Sub-optimal.

   61. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: September 30, 2021 at 09:32 PM (#6042684)
I'd rather these bums just get eliminated instead of squeaking in and getting stomped in NY on Tuesday.


Agree. Also, I refuse to support NY even if it helps our chances for the WC. I don't want to back into the spot, it's half-arsed.

Two first-pitch outs for X tonight. Sub-optimal.


Were these both the GIDP at bats? Because he's got 2 of those today also. How many DPs have they hit into this series? It seems like a lot.
   62. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: September 30, 2021 at 09:33 PM (#6042685)
But, you all know what? A 90 win season is still pretty darn good(I have to assume they'll win at least 1 other game, don't I?)
   63. Textbook Editor Posted: September 30, 2021 at 09:33 PM (#6042686)
Were these both the GIDP at bats?


Pretty sure they were.

Seattle making a run to the WS would be fun and unexpected. My fallback is hoping this happens, I guess.
   64. Textbook Editor Posted: September 30, 2021 at 09:34 PM (#6042687)
(I have to assume they'll win at least 1 other game, don't I?)


[endless laughing, gasping for air]
   65. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: September 30, 2021 at 09:36 PM (#6042689)
Wow, Nate is getting pissed. That’s a new one.

This week has not been great. Prediction, the Boston Red Sox are playing baseball Monday night.
   66. Textbook Editor Posted: September 30, 2021 at 09:52 PM (#6042693)
While I know posting GIFs in comments is low-class and beneath a thinking person's website such as BTF, this is one time where I'd love to post the Homer Simpson chasing after the pig roast GIF... "It's still good! It's still good!"

   67. Textbook Editor Posted: September 30, 2021 at 10:06 PM (#6042698)
Holy hell... Seattle is outperforming their pythag by 14 games?!? What on earth?
   68. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: September 30, 2021 at 10:18 PM (#6042706)
Holy hell... Seattle is outperforming their pythag by 14 games?!? What on earth?


And in about 10 minutes NY will be outperforming theirs by 7 games. Evil knows no bounds.
   69. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: October 01, 2021 at 08:53 AM (#6042760)
How good were the Red Sox through the first 86 games of the season?

So good (54-32) that they could go 35-38 since then, and still be tied for the second wild card with three days to go - and have the tiebreaker against all the other teams going for the wild card slots.

This weekend will - fair or not - determine which nuance of the final narrative will set in concrete. Were the 2021 Red Sox:

1) An overachieving team that got off to a white-hot first half, but left a little too much time on the clock for the other teams to catch up; or
2) An overachieving team that, especially in the second half of the season, frequently looked like the wheels were about to come off, but always found a way to be just good enough when they had to be to get into the playoffs.

It has been quite a journey:
- They start by getting swept at home by Baltimore, and the immediate reaction is that this team is going to be as bad as the 2020 team. (0-3)
- They then win nine in a row (9-3)
- Then they bounce around for a few weeks, with some exciting moments (like when they went to NY to play the Mets, and Richards and Pivetta flash dominance, including outdueling DeGrom when he was at the peak of his powers). Still, they are playing .500 ballfor a good month, nobody else in the division is doing anything, and so they remain in first place (25-18).
- I remember this next stretch pretty well: After they play .500 ball for a month, but remain in first place, the team gets hot, going 12-5...but actually losing the division lead to Tampa, who by then has figured it out. This was the first time as a fan this year that I was like, "OK, is this horse going to be able to keep up?" (37-23).
- Remember that series in Houston that didn't go well? That's what came next, as well as a disappointing road trip where they lost both the KC series and the Tampa series. But unlike the last stretch, even though they once again plateaued at .500 ball after a hot streak, they actually gained ground on Tampa in the standings, setting up the high point of the season. (44-31)
- They come home on June 25th, and sweep the Yankees, then crush the Royals, then go out west, win 2 of 3 at Oakland (and almost win the third game), then beat the Angels in the Ottavino trash-talking game. It is July 5th, they are up 4.5 in the division, they've won 10 out of 11 and are crushing the West Coast trip, they are 54-32. This is the day that will be the most games over .500 they will be, and the largest division lead they will have. I remember this day, and I had no idea that after that, they would...
-...go 35-38 the rest of the way, and go from 4.5 up to 9 back.

Obviously, there have been ups and downs during the last 73 games, but generally speaking, watching the Red Sox since July 5th has been like watching the trees outside my office here in northern New England every fall (like right now): The leaves slowly turn into their fall colors, and then tumble unevenly to the ground. You don't know how fast they will tumble, or in what exact trajectory, but the general trajectory is obvious - it is going to land where it should, eventually. Does it land at 89 wins, or 91 wins? Because that is the difference between making the playoffs or not making the playoffs. But we've been able to tell for a few months now that it would land somewhere around 90, based on the 54-32 start. It is all about where exactly the leaf lands.
   70. Darren Posted: October 01, 2021 at 01:43 PM (#6042825)
That didn't go well and then that didn't go well but things are still ... um... not as bad as they could possibly be?
   71. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: October 01, 2021 at 02:04 PM (#6042832)
I mean they control their own destiny with three games left. Not much more we could've asked for. It's simple, play well or don't.
   72. The Yankee Clapper Posted: October 01, 2021 at 04:45 PM (#6042870)
I mean they control their own destiny with three games left. Not much more we could've asked for.
Well, not that long ago the Red Sox controlled their own destiny for the Division, then the 1st Wildcard, and now only for the 2nd Wildcard, or to be more accurate, a tie for the 2nd Wildcard. The trend is not good, although their chances for the 2nd Wildcard are still reasonably good.

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