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Red Sox Report Card - August 2019

September 4, 2019
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It remains to be seen whether the Red Sox give fans a September to remember, but one thing’s for certain: it was an August worth forgetting.

It was always going to be a struggle for Boston to make up the necessary ground to push their way back into the playoff race. They were going to need a big month. Instead, they got a month that was the epitome of meh. A 14-13 record for August leaves them well behind the wild card frontrunners – the odds of them surging ahead are slim and getting slimmer.

The offense cooled off – no surprise, considering how hot the bats had been for much of the summer – but the pitching failed to pick up the slack, continuing along its sub-mediocre path. The end result was the aforementioned barely .500 record. Aside from a handful of standout performances, pretty much the whole team disappointed to some extent.

It’s hard to complain, what with the still-fresh 2018 title less than a year old. It could be worse. And yet, it would have been nice to see the Sox at least have a chance to go back-to-back. But after a month like this, it doesn’t seem to be in the cards.

On to the Report Card.

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Hitting – B

In terms of actual performance, this grade might be a touch low – the Red Sox were in the top-five in the league in every significant batting category – but after the incredible offensive display put forth in June and July, we can’t help but be a little disappointed. Note that it isn’t J.D. Martinez’s fault – the slugger went supernova in August, hitting 10 homers and driving in 29 while slashing .394/.475/.768. He was one of the best bats in the AL for the month. Xander Bogaerts looked good as well, just missing a .300 average for the month while rocking a .957 OPS. Most of the rest of the lineup was decent – Mookie Betts had a solid month, while a cooled-down Rafael Devers was still good for seven homers, 20 RBI and an OPS of .899. Brock Holt, Mitch Moreland and Andrew Benintendi hit well, albeit with little power. On the other hand, Jackie Bradley Jr. continued to struggle with the bat, with a sub-.200 batting average; Sam Travis wasn’t much better, and Michael Chavis was significantly worse. Again, not a terrible offensive stretch. Just not a great one.

Starting Pitching – D+

Continuing a season-long trend, we see yet another month when the Red Sox pitching fails to reach the same heights to which the offense ascends. The rotation, which looked like a potential strength coming into the season, has proven to be less than stellar. This past month is no exception – there was literally one starter that had a good month. Not a great month, just a good one. That was Eduardo Rodriguez, whose 3-1, 3.41 ERA line is undermined by his low strikeout numbers and high WHIP. Rick Porcello’s August epitomized mediocrity; he was 3-2 with a 4.00 ERA in his five starts. Chris Sale’s peripherals continued to outperform his actual results right up until he got hurt; he gave up 11 runs in 18 innings despite striking out 29 and sporting a 0.98 WHIP. As for the rest, guys like Andrew Cashner and Nathan Eovaldi and so on, well … the less said, the better. Suffice it to say, they did not get the job done in August and there’s no reason to think they’ll be all that much more effective going forward.

Bullpen – C

There’s a pretty solid line of demarcation in the Boston bullpen. There are a few pitchers who had legitimately good Augusts. Josh Taylor pulled an ERA of 1.76 and WHIP of 1.04 in 15 appearances, striking out 20 in 15 innings. Marcus Walden managed a sub-one WHIP and an ERA of 2.51. Brandon Workman looked good in a dozen appearances and young Darwinzon Hernandez showed killer stuff (albeit with some command issues). On the other hand, Matt Barnes and Brian Johnson got tuned up, while Ryan Brasier was flat-out abysmal, with an 8.22 ERA in his seven appearances. There were a handful of other relief appearances (including a few by dudes mentioned in the starting pitching section), but these guys handled most of the relief innings. It averages out to, well … average, although none of these individual pitchers landed in that range. Still, while it wasn’t a great month for the bullpen, it was significantly better than that put forward by the rotation – and that’s a step forward.

Defense – B-

It’s hard to care that much about Boston’s glovework when other aspects of the team’s performance have been so inconsistent, but hey – at least they’ve been OK at catching the ball. Even with the relative underperformance with the bats, the outfield defense – Bradley Jr., Betts and Benintendi – is legit, though maybe not as strong as it showed in previous months. In the infield, the left side is more talent than polish, but shortstop Bogaerts and third baseman Devers are capable of great play. The infield’s right side has been more of a patchwork, with predictable results. The catching situation has been decent, but not much beyond that.

Last modified on Wednesday, 04 September 2019 11:57

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