Despite strong playoff odds, some cannot shake the feeling that the Boston Red Sox are teetering on the brink of disaster. Indeed, the stunning collapses of recent seasons seem to have developed a sixth sense in Sox fans for when things are going downhill.
The Red Sox's performance has undoubtedly dipped in August. Losing three-straight series against the Royals, Blue Jays and Yankees hurts, especially considering that none of those teams figure to factor as serious playoff contenders.
Part of Boston's slump is luck-based, as the team is just 1-5 in one-run games thus far in August. But putting aside the numbers for a moment, anyone who has watched the Red Sox this past month can sense that the joy and fervor with which the team played the whole season is just a little bit off.
That implies that certain players need to lift the team with better play down the stretch. The Sox cannot simply rely upon their stars to carry them into the postseason, as their success this season can be attributed largely to their depth and overall team contributions.
With that in mind, here are five players who must step up in September if the Red Sox are to continue playing past the month and into the postseason.
* All advanced stats courtesy of FanGraphs.com, unless otherwise noted.