August 24th, 2013
Major League Baseball is heading for the home stretch, and fans are beginning to take stock of their teams’ playoff chances and outlooks entering September. For Red Sox fans, it’s particularly interesting to take a look, as the team has had a strong season, but has struggled of late.
Actually, things have been pretty lackluster, in terms of recent activity. So far in August, the Red Sox have been a .500 club, and are only 2 games over .500 since the All Star Break. Throw in the recent series loss to the hated Yankees and that ugly Ryan Dempster incident, and the mood isn’t exactly ecstatic in Boston.
That said, it’s important not to lose perspective. The Sox remain solidly in the playoff hunt, and are still being called one of the favorites to contend for a World Series title. The team is 1st in the AL East, 21 games over .500 as of August 23rd, and if you take a look at Betfair Betting, has the 3rd best odds of any team to win the world championship. The Red Sox have the highest rated offense in the league (1st in runs scored and 2nd in batting average per ESPN.com), and look extremely unlikely to fall out of playoff contention at this point.
However, a closer look at things does reveal some causes for concern. Boston’s pitching has been less consistent as of late, with Dempster being flat out horrible, and then there is Clay Buchholz who still has a least 2-3 rehabs starts to go. Additionally, the lineup seems to be stalling out just a bit; and. Rookie “phenom” Xander Bogaerts was supposed to provide a lift we could get excited about, but a slow start by the rookie probably means fans won’t be rushing out to Dick’s to buy a jersey any time soon.
Right now the real concern moving forward is not with personnel – it’s with the schedule. The Red Sox schedule for the remaining 32 games is pretty brutal, with 25 of the contests being played against teams with better than .500 records, and 13 of those will be on the road. And just to make things interesting, the Sox will endure a very difficult stretch in September that includes 16 straight games against Detroit, New York, Tampa Bay and Baltimore.
Will it be enough to keep the Red Sox out of the playoffs? Doubtful. This team has been too good, and has built up too large a cushion, for that to happen. But with this difficult stretch coming up, there’s a chance Boston will be looking at a wildcard, rather than a division title.
But, as always, its baseball; Anything can happen, which is why they play 162.