BOSTON - With the trade deadline immediately around the corner, I wanted to check-in with the Boston Red Sox before the team radically transforms (potentially) to give us more time to cover those trades in depth.
Where They Stand: The Red Sox are currently 59-49 and have finally solidified a solid cushion of being above .500 in the standings. However, in the American League East, they still trail the New York Yankees by nine games. In terms of the Wild Card standings, Boston is a half of a game behind the Tampa Bay Rays, two games behind the Oakland Athletics for the second spot, and four games behind the Cleveland Indians for the first spot. The Anaheim Angels are three and a half games behind the Red Sox.
Where They Were Last Month: After getting hot in May and the early parts of June, it seemed like the Red Sox were regressing back to the mean. But then, they got hot again at the end of July and seem to be in the best shape they've been in all year.
Who's Hurt?: Brian Johnson seems like he might be ready to make a start this weekend. As for Boston's other big injuries, Dustin Pedroia, Steve Pearce, and Steven Wright, seemingly no progress has been made on their recovery whatsoever.
Biggest Strength: Aside from Eduardo Rodriguez, who is leading the AL in wins, Boston might have one of their best lineups ever. They lead the AL in a number of categories, including runs scored and runs per game, among others. But when Christian Vazquez is raking with a +.500 slugging percentage and he's not even the fifth best hitter in the lineup, you know the offense is clicking. Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers, J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and a resurgent Andrew Benintendi make for the league's toughest offensive gauntlet. On top of all of it, Michael Chavis is competing for Rookie of the Year and Brock Holt is the hottest hitter in baseball. The offense is truly elite.
Biggest Weakness: But the pitching is so not elite. The bullpen is complete patchwork and even Nathan Eovaldi has not been able to rescue it. The starting pitching, sans Chris Sale, has been consistently solid, but the bullpen has blown at least the margin between Boston and the Yankees (and then some). I really hope the bullpen does not let the lineup go to waste.
Where to Next: Dave Dombrowski, for the love of God, I beg you from the bottom of my heart to please trade for some pitching help at the deadline. It has been four months of this nonsense and it has to stop.