September 24, 2021

Red Yellow Sox, Winners of Seven Straight, Host Yankees For Three Games


The two American League Wild Card teams most likely will not be decided until next weekend, perhaps on the final day of the regular season. The teams currently holding those two top spots will begin a three-game series tonight at Fenway Park: the Red Sox and Yankees.

            W   L    GB    RS   RA  DIFF  EXPWL
Red Sox    88  65  +2.0   794  710  + 84  84-69
Yankees    86  67  ----   668  634  + 34  80-73
Blue Jays  85  68   1.0   796  630  +166  93-60
Mariners   84  69   2.0   654  707  - 53  71-82
Athletics  82  71   4.0   697  637  + 60  83-70

(Man, if I was a Blue Jays fan, I'd be furious at trailing the Yankees. The Blue Jays have scored 128 more runs and allowed four fewer runs than New York -- and they still trail them in the standings instead of being (theoretically) 13 games ahead of them. Of course, I am very happy not to be a Blue Jays fan. While I may not be furious at the Yankees (ask me again on Monday morning), I do despise them and wish them the most catastrophic, harmful, and humiliating luck.)

Starting Pitchers:

Friday, 7 PM ET: Gerrit Cole / Nathan Eovaldi
Saturday, 4 PM ET: Nestor Cortes / Nick Pivetta
Sunday, 7 PM ET: Jordan Montgomery / Eduardo Rodriguez

Two of Cole's last three starts have been stinkers. He lasted only 3.2 innings against the Blue Jays on September 7, allowing five hits, two walks, and three runs. Cole managed to tame the Orioles for five innings on September 14, but Cleveland slapped him around five days later: 10 hits and seven runs in 5.2 innings.

In June and July, Cole made three starts against Boston and posted a 5.06 ERA. 16 innings, 19 hits (including four dongs), six walks, and 10 runs. The Red Sox have batted .292/.342/.538 (.881) against him, the highest average, on-base, and slugging numbers of the nine teams that Cole has faced more than once this season.

As Matthew Kory noted in Thursday's Sox Outsider, it would be ideal for the Red Sox to hold onto the top wild card spot, so the Wild Card game is played at Fenway Park:

1.    This applies more strongly if the Red Sox are facing either Toronto (likely) or Tampa (extremely unlikely) rather than New York, but the Red Sox should strive like heck to avoid playing on turf. Both Toronto and Tampa play in ballparks with turf fields. The ball moves much more quickly on turf than it does on grass. This is a bad thing for an already leaky infield defense. Playing on a grass infield helps minimize this Red Sox weakness.

2.    Playing at Fenway means the Green Monster will be in left and that means there's a much smaller left field to patrol. This is good for a team that will likely feature a well below average defender in left field most of the time in either JD Martinez or Kyle Schwarber. Minimizing defensive requirements for left fielders helps the Red Sox far more than whichever team they end up playing.

3.    The Red Sox often have a large home/road split when it comes to hitting, and this year is no exception. At home the Red Sox have a 118 wRC+ (100 is league average, 101 is one percent above, etc.), while on the road Boston has a 96 wRC+. In other words, they're one of the best offenses in baseball at home, but a slightly below league average one on the road. Neither Toronto nor New York has anything close to that kind of split.

Also: The Red Sox have won 15 of their last 20 home games (and 30 of their last 42).

The Red Sox are 13-6 in September and they are 10-6 against the Yankees in 2021. They have also won their last seven games, scoring 8, 9, 7, 9, 8, 6, and 12 runs (the bats have a .964 OPS in those games).

It's their third winning streak of at least seven games this season. After starting the season 0-3, they won nine straight and from June 25 to July 1, the Red Sox won eight consecutive games (a streak kicked off with a three-game sweep of the Yankees). Alex Speier tweeted out a list of the other Red Sox teams in the last 30 years that had three winning streaks of 7+ games:


That's the list.

After this weekend, the Red Sox hit the road for three games against the Lowly Orioles (48-104), whom they have beaten 12 out of 16 times this year, and three games against the Nationals, who are last in the NL East and own the fifth-worst record in MLB (64-89).

If all goes well, they will return to Fenway for the AL Wild Card Game on Tuesday, October 5.

1 comment:

Paul Hickman said...

IF all goes well .....

IF all doesn't go well ..... it has still been a phenomenal season !

Think back to April - every Sox Fan on Earth would have taken this - regardless of how it ends now !