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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Red Sox Playoff Expectations

Red Sox Playoff Expectations
Red Sox Playoff Expectations

The playoffs are right around the corner, and for the second straight season the Red Sox find themselves in the middle of the race. Expectations were high last year as the Sox entered the October Classic. In David Ortiz’s final year and postseason, many fans expected him to make a run for a fourth World Series title.  Unfortunately, the Sox were swept by Cleveland in a series that saw their Cy Young-winning pitcher, Rick Porcello, give up five runs in a loss. In the same series, Boston’s $30 million pitcher, David Price, also gave up five runs in a loss, including four runs in the second inning alone.  How will this team fare this postseason, with the addition of Chris Sale, but the loss of a leader in Ortiz?
All season, there has been leadership problems in the Red Sox clubhouse. Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts have expressed how the team has struggled without Ortiz, and there were reports of confrontations between David Price and beloved Red Sox Hall of Famer and studio analyst, Dennis Eckersley. Shortly after the All-Star break, it looked like the Sox could fall apart, but instead they fought through their struggles and are now preparing for a run at the Pennant.  
Just a short while ago, the Sox had won nine out of ten games and appeared to be red hot entering the postseason. However, two bad losses to the Toronto Blue Jays with Drew Pomeranz and Chris Sale on the mound were eye opening.  There’s no doubt that Sale has had a remarkable year though, as he is likely to end the season just five strikeouts short of Pedro Martinez’s franchise record of 313, assuming he doesn’t make his last scheduled start on Sunday. When Sale is on, there isn’t any pitcher in the game as dominant as he is.  With that said, he has had a few terrible starts this year against both good and bad teams.  
In his two starts against the Cleveland Indians, the best team in the American League and a potential playoff opponent, Sale gave up 13 earned runs and 15 hits in eight innings of work. In his last start of the season against Toronto, the worst team in AL East, Sale gave up five runs on four dingers.  It would be foolish, though, to question the mental toughness of Chris Sale, the same guy who smashed a baseball on his head when he failed to cover first base in a spring training game. Someone who brings that type of intensity before the regular season even starts should be totally fine in the playoffs. At the same time, one could say that David Price, before we got to see him start in the postseason, was better than Sale. It would have been crazy to think Price would be so inept in the postseason, but he simply has never been able to figure it out. Sale is a totally different person than Price, though, both on and off the field. But as he has had no playoff experience, it’s hard to know what to expect from him.
Dave Dombrowski’s deadline deal to acquire Eduardo Nunez didn’t seem too important at the time, especially with the swift emergence of Rafael Devers. It has turned out to be the move that was needed though, as Nunez has arguably been the team’s best hitter. In a recent game against the Cincinnati Reds, Nunez’s knee completely gave out and he fell to the ground. On the broadcast, both Eckersley and Jerry Remy said that Nunez needed to come out of the game and that he was seriously hurt.  If he’s not 100 percent by the postseason, or even worse, not ready to play at all, it would be a crushing blow for the Red Sox.
As far as the matchups go, it appears that the Sox will be playing the Houston Astros in the AL Division Series. The Astros are a very young and inexperienced team, the opposite of the Indians. It would be to Boston’s benefit if they can hold off from facing Cleveland until the AL Championship Series. The potential Yankees-Indians series in the first round would be a toss-up, and both have won the season series over Boston. Regardless of who the Red Sox play in October, they will have their work cut out for them.