As a sportswriter, I’m supposed to remain unbiased in my reports and analyses. However, hearing about the possibility of Roy Halladay joining the Red Sox has excited me as much as I’ve been since the 2004 ALCS.
Really, it’s that big of a deal. Look at the other starters in the rotation. Josh Beckett, Tim Wakefield, Jon Lester, Brad Penny, and John Smoltz join to create a scary enough rotation; if the Red Sox acquire Halladay, I think it makes them an instant lock to win the World Series.
The Red Sox are built for the postseason. Their rotation becomes one of four men instead of five. If Halladay joins the Nation, the projected starters would become Beckett, Halladay, Lester, and Wakefield.
I don’t think any team, American League or National, can match the quality of those starters. Combined, they have 43 wins this season—only Lester, with nine wins, has yet to reach double digit wins. If Lester, a cancer survivor with a no hitter and winner of the decisive game in the 2007 World Series, becomes the fourth starter for the Red Sox, there isn’t a team in the majors that wouldn’t fear Boston in October.
Not to mention that Penny, member of the 2003 World Series champion Florida Marlins, and Smoltz, who has more postseason victories than any other pitcher in MLB history, would both further strengthen an already solid bullpen.
Don’t forget Jonathan Papelbon, already the Red Sox career saves leader with only four seasons at the position under his belt. He’s particularly dominant in the playoffs, holding the major league record for consecutive scoreless innings to begin a postseason career—25 innings and counting.
And that’s only factoring in the pitching staff. David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jason Varitek, Kevin Youkilis, Mike Lowell, J.D. Drew, and Jacoby Ellsbury all have World Series rings. After last year’s heartbreaking Game Seven loss to division rival Tampa Bay in the ALCS, there’s no doubt the Red Sox are hungry to return to the World Series and capture their third championship of the decade after an 86 year drought.
I’m well aware the regular season is still in play, and the Yankees are currently 2.5 games ahead in the standings. Boston leads the Wild Card by 1.5 games, but no team aims to win the Wild Card during spring training.
If Halladay joins the rotation, he could give Boston the spark needed to recapture the division lead and hold on to it. The Red Sox begin a three-game series with the division leading Yankees on August 7 in New York.
The Yankees haven’t beaten Boston since last year head-to-head match-ups could be the deciding factor in the AL East Division race. Considering how shaky New York’s pitching, both starts and bullpen, has been this year, everything points toward Boston as favorites to win the division, in addition to the World Series.