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Red Sox Report Card - July 2019

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In the standings, it was a decent July for the Red Sox. They won enough to gain a little ground in the division – though still sit a good distance behind the East-leading Yankees – and place themselves in ready contention for the wild card.

As far as how that actually happened, well … it wasn’t always pretty.

While this Boston team definitely came alive with the bats this month, the pitching left a LOT to be desired. The offense carried the day; frankly, it’s hard not to wonder what might have been with even average performance out of the pitching staff.

Still, with the All-Star break in the rearview, the team managed to come alive in some important ways. If they can continue down that path – while also working on reversing some of the regression they’ve seen – they’ve got a shot. A look back at the month just past certainly indicates that possibility.

On to the Report Card.

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Hitting – A+

Kind of amazing to think that this team put up great numbers in June and then somehow managed to perform even better in July. The team line for the month is that of an All-Star, with a batting average over .300 and an OPS approaching .900. They’re far and away the AL leaders in runs scored and slugging percentage, sitting just a few points behind the Astros in OBP. They’re second in homers and have hit just a ridiculous number of doubles. Leading the charge has been Xander Bogaerts, who has slugged seven homers while driving in 25 and scoring nearly as many; he’s batting well over .350. Ditto Mookie Betts, who has somehow scored over 30 runs this month. But the hottest hand of all has been Rafael Devers, whose month is basically .350/.400/.750 while crushing homers and driving in over 30. Andrew Benintendi and J.D. Martinez have been pretty good. And no one – with the possible exception of Jackie Bradley Jr. – has been bad. And that’s how you bat .300 as a team for a month.

Starting Rotation – D+

As good as the offense was in July, that’s how bad the pitching was. The starting rotation had an abysmal showing over the course of the month, with just one starter offering up anything even remotely close to quality performance. Eduardo Rodriguez was great in his five July starts, with an ERA just over two and a WHIP of 1.10. He allowed batters to hit just .189, struck out a batter an inning and won all five starts. After that, it goes downhill fast. David Price has been barely mediocre for the month … and he’s the best of what’s left. Chris Sale continues his up-and-down season, going 2-3 in his five starts. His ERA for July was 5.86 and his WHIP a robust 1.37; his strikeouts are still high, but who even cares? And then you have Rick Porcello and new acquisition Andrew Cashner, both of whom have been even worse than Sale – both men are allowing batters to hit them at a .330 clip. Their respective WHIPS are just as close … and just as bad. All in all, a tough month.

Bullpen – D+

Sure, why not give the bullpen the same terrible grade as the rotation? It makes sense – the bullpen has been just as ineffective as the rotation over the month of July. There are a couple of bright spots in the mix – Josh Taylor has pitched very well and Matt Barnes has shown some dominant stuff, while Brandon Workman has been solid – but for the most part, it’s a pretty dismal picture. Ryan Brasier has been a disaster. Heath Hembree and Colten Brewer haven’t been much better. And lest we forget, July saw some truly wretched relief performances from guys like Nathan Eovaldi and Steven Wright. As a collective, the bullpen has somehow managed to maintain a consistent level of terribleness for literal months – without some sort of real turnaround on their part, it’s tough to see how this team can make any sort of progress into October.

Defense – B

Boston’s defense has settled into a better-than-average groove. Devers still has moments, but he continues to find his way at the hot corner. He’ll never be a great third baseman, but he’s got a shot at being a good one. Bogaerts is steadily becoming one of the better defensive shortstops in the league. Really, it’s the outfield defense – Betts, Bradley Jr. and Benintendi – that carries this grade. That trio remains one of the best in the American League, flashing the leather in ways that continue to thrill and impress. Vasquez is looking good behind the dish and throwing out nearly half of the guys who attempt to steal on him, though one wonders if his game calling and framing might contribute to the team’s pitching struggles.

(Note: This story went to press before the final two contests of the month. Stats are current through July 29.)

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