What I’m not wild about:
I’m honestly not that impressed with John Farrell’s performance in the playoffs
I mean sure – the results have been there – but it feels like sooner or later one of those poor decisions will come back to bite him. Odd stuff like not pinch running for Jonny Gomes, not bringing Koji out of the pen to face Miguel Cabrera, etc. He had explanations for all of them, but I’m not entirely sold on the process here.
I get that Gomes is probably one of – if not THE – best base runner on the team, but in a situation where speed is probably more valuable than acumen, I don’t know why you’d leave Quentin Berry on the bench. And the Koji thing? I get the small sample against Cabrera – but right now he’s not really catching up to fastballs and is struggling with breaking stuff. Why not throw your best at theirs?
The bottom of the lineup is looking pretty darn exposed
One of my primary gripes with this team has been the bottom of their lineup and the plethora of high K% players located in it. All five players at the bottom of the order have K% above 24%, but have been able to get away with it in larger samples where they’re facing mediocre pitching on a more regular basis. In the playoffs though, that’s a different story.
I had a feeling that facing better pitching would really expose the bottom of the order as a potential weakness in the playoffs and so far, it feels justified. Slots 5-9 in the lineup have combined to strikeout 22 times in 43 AB’s in the ALCS so far. While the top of the order hasn’t been stellar either (more like the Tigers pitching has been dominant), a 51.16 K% is a real rally killer.
What’s been great?
Remember that middle relief problem? Those were the days, weren’t they?
Sure, it’s small sample, but then again- that doesn’t really matter. This isn’t exactly a bet on football or something. But hey the Red Sox middle relief has gotten the job done so far. While Craig Breslow’s performance has been well documented, a rested, seemingly refreshed Junichi Tazawa has been real shot in the arm for a team that could use a little more help from it’s right handed relievers. If the Red Sox pull this series out, his 8th inning strikeout of Miguel Cabrera last night will likely be looked upon as one of the key moments of the series. So long as Red Sox starters can muscle through to the seventh, it appears as if the team’s fate is in good hands.
I’m not an intangibles guy, but
You have to think that the Tigers have to be frustrated at this point. They’ve thrown the kitchen sink – literally – at the Red Sox so far this series and still find themselves down 2-1. One solo HR, one colossal grand Slam from Ortiz and pitching performances from Red Sox starters that in all honesty – have probably been better than expected. This is an opportunistic, patient team – almost to a maddening level.
The flip side is that the Tigers could be looking at this, thinking that with one or two swings of a bat, they could be up 3-0. Whether you think the glass is half full or half empty, there has to be some level of frustration at this point. The Red Sox have been able to capitalize on the small moments that produce big results and the Tigers haven’t.
All of the pitching. On both teams.
While we can bemoan the Red Sox K% and the Tigers total inability to hit with RISP, you have to tip the cap to the pitching we’ve seen so far this series. In fact, it might be the best pitching I’ve seen in a series, ever. Considering the thunder each lineup brings to the table, it really magnifies the significance of what we’re seeing. Pitcher’s duels might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but man, it’s hard not to get caught up in what we’ve seen so far.