The second half of the season is upon us! After a brutal 2-10 start, the Red Sox sprung to life, and now sit atop the American League East division with a 55-35 record. Given their small one game lead over the New York Yankees, and a tenuous six game lead over the surprising (to some, not me) Tampa Bay Rays, the Red Sox have little margin for error. With that in mind, I thought I’d make a few predictions, some bold and others not so bold, about what will happen with the Red Sox over the remainder of the season.
John Lackey’s Performance Will Improve
This isn’t really a prediction, so much of an inevitability. While it’s hard to put a positive spin on Lackey’s performance thus far, there’s reason to believe he hasn’t pitched as poorly as his 6.84 ERA suggests. Advanced statistics like FIP, xFIP, tRA, and SIERA all show that Lackey’s suffered from some poor luck, and will likely pitch better in the second half.
Since returning from the disabled list on June 5th, his command has been much improved as he’s posted a 33/10 K/BB ratio in 39-2/3 innings, and he’s put together four starts (in six) where he’s produced a game score of at least 50. With a return to form already begun (hopefully), the Red Sox will likely look to Lackey to carry a greater portion of the load during the second half. With Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, and possibly Josh Beckett all suffering from injuries, they’ll him to be the healthy and productive pitcher they’re agreed to pay $82.5M to through the 2014 season.
Josh Beckett Will Post an ERA Closer Around 3.50 in the Second Half
As well as Beckett’s been pitching this season, it’s probably not sustainable. To date, his ERA has outperformed his projected output by over a run; he’s been lucky on balls put into play, allowing only 23% to fall in for hits; he’s stranded more than 82% of the base runners he’s allowed on; and despite a fly ball heavy GB/FB ratio, his HR/FB is far lower than his career norms. Eventually, a couple (or possibly all) of those metrics will regress towards the mean, and his ERA will rise. He’ll still be an incredibly effective pitcher during the second half, and he’ll probably work himself into the Cy Young discussion during August and September. Still, we shouldn’t expect a repeat performance of his first half.
Carl Crawford will Bounce Back to Produce a Season on Par with his 2008 Campaign
It’s pretty safe to say that Crawford won’t be posting a repeat of his 7.5 WAR season this year. After a brutal start in April, and then a one month stint on the disabled list, there isn’t enough time remaining in the season for him to undo everything that’s been done. Still, Crawford’s a supreme talent who’s clearly better than the -0.1 WAR he’s produced. The biggest concern with Crawford has been his minuscule walk rate. While his 5.3% career rate has never been anything to celebrate, the 3.2% rate he’s produced this season is completely unacceptable. If he can’t raise that, along with his BABIP, he’s going to have a hard time being a league average offensive player. Still, I have a lot of faith in how he produced during his post-April playing time, and I’m confident he’ll continue to hit upon his return next week. Along with a continued improvement in his defense, I predict he’ll finish within 2-3 WAR by the end of the season.
Categories: Boston Red Sox