For those of you looking for a reason to watch the final two weeks of the 2010 season…
With 13 games remaining, the Sox’ turbulent season is winding to a close.
For the players, there is plenty of reason to be motivated. The young call-ups are receiving their first cups of big league coffee. The veterans are making that last push for next year’s employment.
For the team, there is little to keep the drive alive. Trailing the Rays by 6.5 games in the Wild Card and the Yanks by 7.0 in the division, there is little reason to hope. By now, most have sacked up for the long winter, focusing on the Pats while they await the Sox’ April restart.
But in those final 13 matches, the Sox have one last trick up their sleeve — two three-game series against New York. A 1 in 100 Hail Mary pass. A long shot, but a shot none the less.
Now, before we get any images of grandeur, let’s get something straight: this is, quite literally, a 1 in 100 shot.
Simulating the rest of the season one million times, the Sox were able to tie or pull ahead of the Yankees a mere 7,300 times — good for less than a one percent chance.
However, should they find some way to win six of six against the Yanks, their chances of making the playoffs or forcing a decisive one-game playoff increase to just north of 30 percent.
But that’s a big “if,” given that the Sox’ chances of sweeping are just about… one percent, as they can be expected to take six in a row against the Yanks just about 0.8 percent of the time.
In short, “it ain’t pretty.”
But if you needed a reason to watch the season’s last few games, here it is. Maybe it can keep your interest just a few games longer into the fall.
Though a torn pectoral muscle prematurely ended Felix Doubront’s season at the end of August, the Red Sox’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year has put together quite a year. Registering a 2.81 ERA between AA and AAA, he was just as impressive in his first stint in the Majors, posting a 4.32/4.38 ERA/xFIP to go along with a 2.30 BB:K rate.
And if the early returns were any indication, the best is yet to come.
If there was any one knock on Doubront’s game during those brief 25.0 innings, it is his difficulty in inducing swings-and-misses outside the strike zone. With an astronomical O-Contact rate of 81.5 percent, Doubront likely cost himself over a strikeout per nine innings by failing to coax the whiffs — which would have raised his ERA by about 0.3 points.
But that news isn’t necessarily bad. Doubront should have no trouble improving his O-Contact percentages into the mid-60s, which would propel him into the 9+ K/9 category — assuming the rest of his indicators stay constant. If this is the case, it isn’t hard to see Doubront improving to a solid #2-#3 type pitcher with the capability of posting high 3.00- and low 4.00-ERA’s on a yearly basis.
Doubront’s biggest challenge for 2011 will be to recover from his pectoral strain (depending on the severity of the injury) and continuing to induce whiffs inside the strike zone. Felix’ Z-Contact rate was his biggest friend this season, at a stellar 85.2 percent, but any rate this good is suspect given such a low sample size.
Either way, Doubront has clearly emerged as a key piece of the club’s future and fans have every reason to be high on Prince Felix.