Surprise, surprise. The Red Sox are out of it. Okay, that may not be STRICTLY true, strictly as in mathematically speaking. To be precise, Boston’s elimination number remains at 11. Their elimination number being the number of losses (or wins by a leading team) needed before they are mathematically eliminated from the division race.
To be fair, while the Sox are 18.5 games out of the AL East race, they do sit only 14 games back of Detroit for the second wild card. Now it’s unlikely, heck its improbable, that the Red Sox will make any kind of a comeback BUT it isn’t impossible. Never forget that Boston’s opponent in the 2007 World Series, the Colorado Rockies, won 21 of 22 game beginning on the 16th of September to claim the NL Wild Card.
Okay, talk about outlandish possibilities, but never rule it out… I’m just saying, hang on to a little hope.
But for all intents and purposes, the season is lost, at least from a play off perspective. And so the Red Sox will stumble into September. But there are two reasons to keep hanging on, first, the Red Sox have the opportunity to play spoiler against any number of teams throughout September, and that’s always fun; secondly, and probably most importantly, the 30-odd games this month with give Boston the opportunity to get an extended look at their horde of prospects or to showcase that same gang for other teams in preparation for a massive off-season trade
Either one of those two scenarios is possible and perhaps even likely, once rosters expand on the first of the month. Say what you want about the roster expansion (Doug Melvin sure doesnt love it), but I love the idea. It may not be “fair” but I like that the kids get a chance to play.
On a team like the 2014 Red Sox, this is especially important, as they have multiple holes in the squad entering 2015 and bunches of prospects to potentially fill those holes.
Take, for instance, Koji Uehara. The 39-year-old has struggled mightily of late, and is headed into free agency after this season. The Red Sox can benefit hugely from bringing up a guy like Heath Hembree, who has been tabbed a future closer for years. Hembree can get chances in games that don’t matter any more, while the Red Sox can rest Uehara and use him sparingly to determine whether he is worth retaining for 2015, or if it is time to move in a different direction.
The most obvious case is probably that of the jumbled rotation, which, after losing Jon Lester, lacks a clear ace or ‘big-game’ pitcher. None of the Red Sox’ prospects project as front of the rotation starters, but there’s two ways for a September scenario to go. Either, Boston decides the Clay Buchholz or another in-house guy can take a step forward or no one does anything worthwhile in the next thirty days, and further cements Boston’s desire/need for a top-notch starter this winter.
Alternatively, there is the confused case of the 2015 outfield, which currently features at least seven players for four slots. Some combination of Yoenis Cespedes, Rusney Castillo, Shane Victorino, Allen Craig, Jackie Bradley Jr, Mookie Betts and Daniel Nava (with potentially Brock Holt) factors in to the 2015 picture. September will give the Sox the chance to see whether Jackie Bradley is capable of putting it together in a no-pressure atmosphere. It will also serve as a chance to show off both Betts and Nava, as both of them make for intriguing trade-bait either in packages or on their own.
Lastly, September gives us something to look forward to. Maybe it wont be good baseball, heck it wont be pretty. But it gives us a glimpse into the future, into either what we will be dealing with in 2015, or what we have to offer potential trade partners (please no one say Giancarlo Stanton).