Life of a Sportsaholic

This blog is intended to be insight into my life as an irrational, stats-driven, obsessive sports fan in Boston. I am a fan of all types of sports with an emphasis on Boston teams and am a proud UConn alum.

Tag: san diego padres

Another Missed Opportunity for Red Sox

When the Toronto Blue Jays lost to the New York Yankees 5-3, the door opened for the Red Sox to move back into a tie for 1st place in the AL East. Considering their opponent, the 56-80 San Diego Padres, it seemed as though the situation was aligned perfectly and an easy W was there for the taking. Unfortunately the league’s most powerful offense went dormant for a 2nd straight day and managed just 1 run on a Chris Young solo HR. The 2-1 loss was just the most recent example of a low-scoring, 1-run loss for this Red Sox team.

In the grand scheme of the season, this game likely won’t mean anything, but with 25 games remaining and just 5 against teams with losing records, it hurts. After taking 2 of 3 from the Oakland Athletics, then need to win this series with the lowly Padres or they may be in trouble. If they win the next 2, then all is right with the world and they finish their last 6 games at 4-2 against bad teams, but if they manage to lose 1 or 2 of the remaining games, it tells me they are not ready to make or compete in the post season.

The offensive inconsistency has continued all season and is certainly concerning. They are leaving an awfully high number of men on base and are not able to come through in clutch situations (6 left on Monday). They had a runner on 3rd base in a 1 run game in the 8th inning with 1 out and they couldn’t drive him in. Those situations are critically important and determine the outcome of close games. When faced with an opportunity like the one on Monday, finding a way to score is what separates a great team from a good team.

In their last 4 games they scored 16, 11, 0, 1 runs. On average, those numbers make it appear the Red Sox are scoring 7 runs a game, which in any context, should at least get them 3 wins in their last 4, if not 4, but numbers can be deceiving and they are just 2-2. When it comes playoff time, it will be much harder to have the high-scoring games, and significantly easier to score 3 or fewer runs given the top pitching faced on a daily basis. Right now, even if this team makes the postseason, don’t expect much advancement.

Red Sox Reset: 5 Things to Watch for the Final 29 Games

AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

As September arrives and minor league call-ups are beginning to get the good news from the Red Sox front office, a postseason run is in the air over Fenway Park. This year has been a bit of a roller-coaster ride and I suspect September will be no exception. If you are a Red Sox fan and invested in the team’s success, stock up on Tums and Pepto-Bismol now, because you are definitely going to need it. Here are 5 things to watch for with 29 games remaining in the Red Sox season.

5. The next 3 series will set the tone for the final 3 weeks

I know it’s cliche, but momentum down the stretch is absolutely critical. The final 23 games of the season are against AL East rivals, including teams directly in front and behind the Red Sox in the standings. The 6 games prior to that stretch are games on the west coast against the Oakland Athletics and the San Diego Padres, two last-place, sub-.500 teams. I know west coast travel and playing on the road is tough, but if the Red Sox do not win 4 of 6 in these 2 series, it will be a failure. You have to beat the teams you are supposed to beat and these are the only remaining series in which you should have a significantly more talented group than your opponent.

4. The Red Sox starting pitching must avoid bad mistakes

The Red Sox pitching staff has gone through good and bad stretches throughout the season. In order to make the postseason and have a chance at perhaps winning a wild card game or a series, the Red Sox starters have to be smart and not give up the big hit or make a big pitch mistake in a tight situation. As of late, a bad pitch leading to a big HR or a big base hit has hurt the Red Sox and in closely contested, playoff-like games, one big pitch mistake could be the difference between a W and an L. The starters don’t need to shutout opponents because their offense is so talented, but consistent quality starts (6IP+, 3 or less ER) will go a long way to help the bullpen and put Ws on the board.

3. Effectively use September call-ups – especially at 3rd base

On September 1st (today), MLB rosters expand to 40 from 25. It allows teams to bring up younger talent and give them a chance to play in the big leagues. In this case, the name with a chance to have the biggest impact is Yoan Moncada, who has been working out at 3rd base in the minors. Since Spring Training, the hot corner has been a questionable spot in the Red Sox lineup. Pablo Sandoval is gone for the season (thankfully) and Travis Shaw started strong, but has accumulated 15 errors and been just OK in the batter’s box since. With call-ups, young phenom Moncada can get his chance to grab the 3rd base job from Shaw and potentially provide a nice spark for the Red Sox.

2. Avoid situations where John Farrell needs to make an in-game decision

I understand the premise of this is flawed, but bear with me because it’s incredibly important. John Farrell is a below-average manager when it comes to making in-game decisions, especially with the pitching staff (great for a former pitching coach, eh?). He has repeatedly made head-scratching decisions about which bullpen arm to use later in games and many of them have back-fired. The easiest way to avoid his incompetence without firing him? Avoid close games late. Take the game out of Farrell’s hands by putting games out of reach earlier on and leaving fewer guys on base. This is mostly on the Red Sox offense to round back into April/May form and put crooked numbers on the board whenever a decent scoring opportunity arises. I know it’s much easier said then done and they are never not trying to score, but a shift in mindset is necessary give the managerial incompetence.

1. Simply treat every remaining game like a 1-game playoff

Throughout the course of an 162-game season, there are some games you don’t push your pitching staff or bench as much as you could in order to rest players. It’s justified as an effort to preserve player health for the long-haul of a season. That’s over now. The Red Sox are 2 games back of the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL East (who they play 6 more times) and 2 games ahead of the 3rd place Baltimore Orioles (who they play 7 more times). These and other opponents are playing for their playoff lives and it is highly likely that 1 game will have a significant impact on the difference between winning the division, grabbing a wild card spot and playing golf on October 3rd. Unless there is an extremely compelling reason, everyone should be available every single day, whether it’s off the bench for a pinch-run or pinch-hit scenario or out of the bullpen for a batter or two. Every game is absolutely critical and September is no time to be cautious.

A Debut to Forget for Drew Pomeranz

drew pomeranz bad getty

After a 13-day gap between starts thanks to the all-star break and a trade away from the San Diego Padres, lefty Drew Pomeranz took the mound at Fenway Park last night for his Red Sox debut against the San Francisco Giants. The first three innings looked good for Pomeranz (1 BB, 2 hits and 4 Ks) as he seemed to be settling in heading into the 4th. In the bottom half of the 3rd, the Red Sox expanded their lead to 8 runs thanks to the 2nd HR in consecutive innings for Hanley Ramirez. Life was good for Pomeranz and the Red Sox. Then the 4th inning happened…

The first 7 batters against Pomeranz all reached base in the 4th, knocking him out of the game after allowing 5 runs on 6 hits in just 3+ innings. He walked the first batter, then gave up a single, HR, single, HR, single and single. His debut went from solid to awful in the blink of an eye and the 8-run lead he was given was vanishing quickly. Robbie Ross got the Red Sox out of the 4th with 3 straight outs, but the much anticipated debut ended with a flop.

This was just game 1, but a rough start for Pomeranz in a Red Sox uniform. It certainly raised some eyebrows, but when you factor in 13-days between starts and his first game at Fenway Park in front of a fan base that actually cares and pays attention (sorry San Diego), I’ll chalk the performance up to pressure and nerves. Hopefully I’m right…

Drew Pomeranz Bolsters Red Sox Starting Rotation

Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire

Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire

On the final day of the all-star break Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski finally addressed the biggest hole in the roster: starting pitching. In a one-for-one trade, the Red Sox let go of a top pitching prospect 18-year old Anderson Espinoza for lefty Drew Pomeranz. Espinoza was the 15th highest ranked prospect according to Baseball America’s mid-season rankings and was drawing comparisons to Pedro Martinez. Pomeranz on the other hand has had a very strong season with the San Diego Padres with an 8-7 record and a fantastic 2.47 ERA and 10.1 K/9 ratio in a career-high 102 innings pitched.

At 27 years old, Pomeranz in a great investment for the Red Sox, but not without some serious concern. Despite incredible numbers against the AL East, .190 opponent batting average and 46 Ks in 16 games, the sample size is very small. I always get a little weary of pitchers with amazing ERAs in the NL coming to the AL East, because pitchers tend to look much less dominant when facing strong lineups every time out and ERAs tend to cimb. Another concern is his workload. He has already eclipsed his career high in innings pitched in the first half of 2016, so it will be interesting to monitor how he handles more and more work down the stretch. It’s a big unknown.

That being said, I am always a fan of giving up a very young prospect for a fairly young established major-leaguer. This move shows me that Dombrowski really is committed to winning now. Pomeranz has proven he can pitch well at the highest level and although Espinoza is drawing some incredible comparisons, he is 18 years old pitching in A ball and is 5 years away from having a direct impact on the big leagues, if he ever gets there. The Padres are taking on future risk, while the Red Sox could potentially improve there team tomorrow (or Wednesday when Pomeranz makes his debut).

With any trade, only time will tell who is the real “winner”, but I like this move for the Red Sox. I don’t think Pomeranz is the answer to all pitching woes, but he certainly gives the team a hopefully reliable starter every 5 days and help the team push towards the postseason. I have a feeling Dombrowski isn’t done yet, with 2 weeks remaining until the trade deadline.