Over the last couple of months, I have noticed that Red Sox fans seem to be losing attention to the team. Tickets are harder to sell off if you can’t make a game. Comments on Red Sox blogs have dropped.
We are in mid-September, atop the wild card lead by only two games, and it seems as if Red Sox Nation is in a collective funk — myself included.
What’s going on?
This season has certainly been trying — one of the more trying ones that I can remember in recent memory. We started the season hot. The Sox were on top of the world and nothing could go wrong. Then the pieces started breaking off.
Daisuke Matsuzaka would go on to have a lost season. David Ortiz’s slump just kept going… and going… and going. One by one, the vaunted pitching depth got so bad that we had to drag Paul Byrd out of retirement. The Yankees had a light turn on in late May that has yet to turn off as they have been playing what feels to be and probably is .700 ball since.
The offense shattered before Victor Martinez was able to piece it back together. Jonathan Papelbon has looked shaky, and his long-term commitment to the Sox and possibility of being traded after the season has come up. Our starting shortstop for most of the season was Nick Green. John Smoltz took a collective dump on our hopes and dreams. Brad Penny is making a late Cy Young run now that he’s out of Boston.
Maybe it’s because we’ve been through the gauntlet this season — even the woefully disappointing 2006 season wasn’t as exhausting as this. But the enthusiasm just doesn’t seem to be there anymore.
Yes, the Red Sox aren’t the best team, top-to-bottom, in baseball, maybe not top three.
But three salient points:
- The Red Sox are currently in a position to make the postseason.
- Anything can happen in the postseason. See: 2004, 2006.
- The Red Sox are far better built for the postseason than the regular season.
Let me tackle the last point real quick.
The postseason is an affair that requires three starters, four every now and then. Josh Beckett and Jon Lester have a case to be the top two duo of any potential playoff team, factoring in regular season and postseason success.
The No. 3 starter looks to be Clay Buchholz, who has turned his season around after looking to be 2008 Buchholz all over again. Given his outings recently, I’m more than comfortable stacking him up in the postseason against another team.
The No. 4 starter — whether that be the consistent-but-oft-injured Tim Wakefield, the inconsistent-but-talented Daisuke Matsuzaka or the I-can-fall-out-of-bed-and-throw-strikes-and-keep-you-in-the-game Paul Byrd — will be a quality No. 4.
The Sox’s bullpen makes games a six-inning affair. Daniel Bard, Billy Wagner, Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon can all nail the door shut in the seventh inning and on. And may I remind you that Ramon Ramirez and Takashi Saito have sub 2.80 ERAs?
The bullpen takes on a heightened role in October, and the Sox rank third in baseball in bullpen ERA with 3.66. That’s No. 1 in the American League. No. 2 is Oakland (3.77) which is actually No. 8 in all of baseball. That’s quite a dropoff. It just shows you how dominant the Sox bullpen is.
That’s not to say the Sox are the best team entering the postseason. But the way the postseason is set up to cancel the No. 5 starter and marginalize the No. 4 starter will benefit Boston directly.
So snap yourself out of the doldrums and let’s get pumped for October! If we can hold off Texas, that is…