Boston Red Sox: Why They Could Be Dangerous if They Make the Playoffs
To say the month of September has been brutal to the Boston Red Sox would be a wildly dramatic understatement. Even so, the Red Sox still have a two-game lead in the wild-card race.
Most teams that limp into the playoffs are not considered much of a threat, but if Boston can squeak in, it would be a mistake to disregard them. The Red Sox may have peaked too early, but there is still reason to believe they could be dangerous in October.
Here are four reasons that Boston could make a run if they manage to hold onto the wild-card spot.
Josh Beckett appears to be healthy, and the truth is he has been flat-out dominant this season for the Boston Red Sox. While earning a 13-5 record, Beckett has put up a 2.50 ERA and a WHIP of 1.00, all while maintaining a strikeout-to-walk ratio of nearly 3.5:1.
This will make the Red Sox more successful in the postseason than the end of the regular season because in October you don't need nearly as much starting pitching depth, which is what has been the Achilles heel for Boston this past month.
In the playoffs, if you have two aces you can win it all. Speaking of that second ace...
Very quietly, Jon Lester has put together an even better season than he had last year when he finished fourth in the AL Cy Young Award voting. Lester has a 15-8 record with a 3.15 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP.
If those numbers hold up and Lester makes at least one more start this season, it will mark the fourth straight season in which he has made at least 30 starts and had an ERA no higher than 3.41 and a WHIP no higher than 1.27. While you may not hear as much about Lester as you do some of Boston's other starters, he is every bit as good as anyone else on the staff and is probably the most reliable starter.
In case that isn't enough, we are talking about a guy that beat cancer and pitched in (and won) the World Series in the same year. On that point, I'm going to go ahead and close my case that the Red Sox have two aces.
Best Offense in Baseball
The good news for the Boston Red Sox is that even though they have had loads of pitching woes, they also have the best offense in baseball. The Red Sox rank first in the league in runs, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. They also rank second in batting average.
In the playoffs, the Red Sox can count on this offense to give the team's two aces enough run support to get the victory. If they're lucky, Boston might even steal a couple wins if they get into a slugfest, or if they get an unexpected quality start from one of their other pitchers.
The Boston Red Sox roster is still loaded with guys that have been to and won the World Series with this franchise. This means they know what it takes to accomplish the team's ultimate goal and can lead the newer and/or younger players to raise their level of play.
Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and Jacoby Ellsbury were all with the team when they won the World Series in 2007. Jason Varitek and David Ortiz were around for the title runs in 2004 and 2007.
Then there is manager Terry Francona. The man they call Tito led the Red Sox to both World Series championships and has weathered all of the storms in between. With such a steady hand at the helm, the Boston Red Sox can never be counted out in October.