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Red Sox Report Card – August 2021

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Hey everybody! Remember when the Red Sox were in first place and it looked like they’d coast into the postseason without much of a problem?

As it turns out, there’s a reason they play ALL the games.

August wasn’t a great month for the boys from Beantown. They finished with a sub-.500 record for the month and ceded even more ground to the increasingly dominant Rays while ALSO allowing the dreaded New York Yankees to pass them as well. At this rate, Boston might not even make an appearance in the Wild Card Game; if they’re going to make it, they’re going to need a big turnaround in September.

Specifically, the pitching let them down in a big way last month. The offense was actually pretty solid overall, but the team’s mound work – particularly out of the bullpen – left a lot to be desired. It’s not over yet, but without some kind of drastic improvement, the fat lady will be singing for this Red Sox season soon enough.

On to the Report Card.

(All stats current as of the completion of the Aug. 30 game.)

-

Batting – A-

Kind of tough to argue against the overall numbers here, though it does feel like the Red Sox offense came in bunches last month. This is a team that was at or near the top of the AL in every slash category; batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage – these guys raked in August. As for who was the best overall, well – depends on your perspective. Hunter Renfroe hit 10 homers and drove in 21, but Alex Verdugo hit over .350 in the course of putting up a .300/.400/.500 line for the month. Speaking of that lovely line, Enrique Hernandez managed one too. In more limited action, Bobby Dalbec came out of a dreadful slump with a red-hot month, while new addition Kyle Schwarber has been on base nearly half the time since coming off the IL. Sure, guys like J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers could have been better, but even they were simply middling and not terrible. All in all, a strong offensive output this month.

Starting Rotation – C+

Honestly, this grade was a tough one to parse. It had to be elevated at least a little by the return of Chris Sale, who won all three of his starts while striking out 21 over 15-plus innings; he also sported a 2.35 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP. And both Eduardo Rodriguez and Nathan Eovaldi had decent peripherals, sporting ERAs of 3.33 and 3.72 respectively in their five starts apiece. Both struck out more than a man an inning as well. However, both were susceptible to baserunners and their combined record was just 4-3 in those 10 starts. As for the rest, well … ugh. Tanner Houck managed just a 4.76 ERA in his five starts, to go with an ugly 1.32 WHIP in just over 22 innings. And Nick Pivetta was actually even worse, with an ERA well over five in his six starts. Throw in some iffy-at-best spot starts and you’re looking at an underperforming rotation saved by the late push from Sale. When the bats are hot, the rotation doesn’t have to be great … but it needs to be better than this.

Bullpen – D-

Oh man – these guys have been BAD. We’re talking next level bad. The sort of bad that you don’t often see on any team, let alone one that has been cosplaying as a contender for half the season. I’ll put it like this – the Red Sox had seven pitchers make at least 10 appearances in August … and FIVE of them put up WHIPs over two. Leading this race to the bottom is closer Matt Barnes, who has simply imploded after signing a lucrative extension. August saw him put up this ghastly line – a 1-3 record and one save in three chances with an ERA of 13.50 and a WHIP of 2.70. He gave up 10 runs – including three homers – in less than seven innings over 11 appearances. He’s just the leader of the terrible though – Hansel Robles, Martin Perez, Austin Davis … the list just goes on and on. Honestly, the only reason I didn’t outright fail this group is Adam Ottovino, who managed a tidy 1.80 ERA and went three-for-three in save chances over his 10 August appearances.

Defense – B-

Somehow, guys like Enrique Hernandez and Hunter Renfroe and Alex Verdugo have turned themselves into a legitimately strong defensive outfield. Sure, they have their inconsistencies – Renfroe especially is an adventure out there – but the dropoff in outfield defense hasn’t been quite as severe as we might have feared. The infield has its own issues, with the left side – Bogaerts and Devers – a talented but inconsistent pairing; both put up good numbers, but are also prone to the occasional lapse. Meanwhile, the situations at first and second have turned into revolving doors – who knows what’ll happen if Boston insists on trotting Kyle Schwarber out to first base? The catching is just good enough to be boring, which is fine – Vazquez is as close to an everyday catcher as anyone in the league. Is it a great defensive team? Not at all. But for now, it’s better than we thought it would be. Fingers crossed for a strong finish.

Last modified on Wednesday, 01 September 2021 07:58

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