September 2019 Check-In: Boston Red Sox
BOSTON – One way or another, this will be the final check-in of the 2019 Boston Red Sox season. Hopefully, the next check-in will actually take the form of a post-season preview, but that certainly remains to be seen.
Where They Stand: With sixteen and a half games separating the Red Sox from the New York Yankees, the American League East division is a foregone conclusion to be the Yankees'. As for the Wild Card, Boston is currently five and a half games behind the Cleveland Indians for the final spot. The Tampa Bay Rays lead the AL Wild Card race and the Oakland Athletics are sandwiched in between Boston and Cleveland.
Boston is also coming off of an eight game west coast road trip that saw them go 6-2. They need to keep up that pace if they want any prayer of the playoffs as ESPN projects them as having just a 6.7 percent chance of making it out of the regular season.
Where They Were Last Month: Things certainly got away from the Red Sox in August. When they began the month, a spot in the playoffs was just a half game out of reach. Obviously, things have changed a bit.
The end of August allowed the team to recuperate, but there is still tons of work to do as September begins, compared to the load they had in store when August kicked off.
Who's Hurt?: Dustin Pedroia, Steve Pearce, Steven Wright, and Chris Sale remain sidelined for the rest of the season. Michael Chavis is currently seeking Boston-based evaluation for a shoulder ailment. Heath Hembree is slated to begin pitching again soon. The scope of the injuries has dwindled, but the loss of Sale has definitely hampered the hopes of the Red Sox going forward.
Biggest Strength: If last season was the year of the Boston outfielders (Jackie Bradley, Jr., Mookie Betts, and Andrew Benintendi), then this is the year of the left side of the infield. Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts would be frontrunners for the AL MVP award if someone named Mike Trout did not exist. It has been thrilling to watch them this year.
Biggest Weakness: For the most part, a weaker pitching staff has defined this 2019 Red Sox team and their mediocrity. And aside from a dreadful beginning to August, the rotation and bullpen has sort of pulled things together? I'm just as baffled by it, but the return of David Price certainly helped matters.
Instead, I will remark that the biggest weakness of the Red Sox is their ability to play against teams over .500. They've been getting crushed by the Houston Astros and New York Yankees this season and the only reason we have hope right now is because they beat up on teams like the Baltimore Orioles and the Colorado Rockies.
Where to Next: It's do or die for the Red Sox now. Not only does every series matter, but every game matters. If they get hot, they might be unstoppable. But they refuse to get hot this year and they've been as frustrating as the 2018-19 Boston Celtics.
Right now, the odds say Boston will miss the playoffs. But if they can win every series from here on out, there might just be a chance to have one last shot at the playoffs.