The Boston Red Sox started the season slowly, but have caught fire recently to bring their record back over the .500 mark. In order to maintain their success and win the AL East, a number of things will need to happen.
The Red Sox pitching has struggled so far. Their two free-agent acquisitions—Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez—have had mixed results.
This season, any result other than a division win will be unacceptable to fans—although they might not get too upset if they win the World Series off the wild card.
Carl Crawford is batting .212 this season and has only stolen six bases. For his career, Crawford has batted .294 and stolen over 50 bases five times.
Although Crawford has improved his hitting lately, he is still hitting in the No. 8 hole toward the bottom of the lineup. As the season progresses, he will have to move up in the lineup and take on a more significant role.
With John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka on the DL, the Sox have to rely on unproven commodities at pitcher.
Although Lackey and Matsuzaka have struggled to pitch quality innings this season, their experience is far more valuable.
Clay Buchholz has the potential to be one of the best pitchers in the MLB. While he has shown flashes throughout the past few seasons, he has yet to put it together.
Lester and Beckett have been pitching well this season, but when Buchholz is at his best, he can be better than any pitcher on the staff.
The bullpen was supposed to be one of the Red Sox greatest strengths this season. Bobby Jenks and Dan Wheeler were supposed to add veteran experience to a staff anchored by proven closer Jonathan Papelbon and wunderkind Daniel Bard.
That has not worked out so far with both struggling through injury concerns and poor performance. If both pitch to their potential, the Sox bullpen can dominate the late innings.
The Red Sox have a patient hitting philosophy that has hurt them so far this year. Kevin Youkilis might be "The Greek God of Walks," but he has struck out 41 times in 135 at-bats this season.
The Sox have taken pitches that they could hit. Instead of driving runs in, they often take pitches that lead to weaker hitters striking out or stronger hitters taking walks instead of batting runners on base in.
The philosophy has been good to the Red Sox in the past. Even so, this season, a more aggressive approach at the plate could work wonders for the Sox.