News Flash: The Boston Red Sox are headed to the postseason for the first time since 2009, as they captured their first American League East title since 2007. This is not the same team that collapsed two Septembers ago, nor is this the same team that limped to a 69-93 record last year. Not only are they going to October, but the Sox in it for the long haul. With a deep, tough offense and a solid pitching staff, Boston’s Bearded Bunch looks to be World Series favorites.
Boston’s offense is one of the deepest in MLB. This team does not ride on the success of the “usual suspects” like David Ortiz or Dustin Pedroia, instead experiencing a newfound depth that means anybody can be the hero, like Daniel Nava who has been huge throughout the 2013 season.
The pitching depth has also become surprisingly strong. The rotation features top-to-bottom strength, such as Jon Lester, who started off strong and has come down the stretch even stronger. The reemergence of John Lackey has been huge, as he has kept the Sox in games all year, if not completely shutting down opposing teams. Clay Buchholz’s return and acquisition of Jake Peavy make Boston’s rotation deep enough to contend with any rotation.
If the Red Sox have a tight lead in the 9th inning, it’s Koji Time. Koji Uehara has been an absolute revelation in the closer’s role, locking down saves consistently with his characteristic high-energy. His ascent into the closer’s role may have been a turning point for Boston, as he provided the stability the team desperately needed.
The well roundedness of this team is what will ultimately lead the Red Sox into glory once again, as the 2013 World Series Champions. Can you believe it?
If this is the year for miracles, it’s the only way this 2013 Red Sox team is winning the World Series. Don’t get me wrong, Boston is an incredible regular season team, which is what you get when you spend $126.5 million on free agents in a knee-jerk reaction to a brutal 2012 season that saw many fans abandoning Fenway Park.
The Red Sox lineup is hot and cold, a dangerous theme for teams with early postseason exits in recent years such as the 2012 Cincinnati Reds and 2006 New York Yankees. Recent injuries to Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino are even more cause for concern, especially as Victorino attempts to continue his absurd switch to not switch-hitting against right-handed pitching.
Boston has not established a true ace for the postseason, which will prove to be a signifcant concern against the deep Detroit Tigers rotation should the teams square off. Jon Lester is unreliable in big games, the name “John Lackey” still makes diehards cringe, Jake Peavy is sporting a 4.00 ERA this year, and Clay Buchholz will be a question mark no matter how good his “stuff” is.
And the bullpen. Oh the bullpen. Yes, Koji Uehara has been Mariano Rivera to say the very least, but getting to him has been an adventure. The Red Sox have averaged one run allowed per eighth inning in high-leverage games all season long, which would be significantly more troublesome in the playoffs.
The Sox are also just 8-11 against the Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers, and Detroit Tigers this season, all teams they could reasonably face in October. I have doubts as to their abilities to line up against any of these teams in a playoff series, as their winter months will be spent with questions of how the incredible regular season Red Sox could have failed to capture it all in the end.