Few ex-Red Sox remain in the postseason, but the ones who do, are poised to make a serious impact.
- Andrew Miller: Miller has been absolutely lights out this season, for both the Sox and the O’s. He’s put up career-high numbers in virtually every single category. His K% is an insane 42.6%. His BB% is 7%. His opponents’ batting average is just .150. He’s only allowed three home runs over 62.1 innings. He’s been worth 2.3 fWAR, as a reliever!! For his career, he has a bit of a platoon split, and thusly he’s historically been deployed as a LOOGY. However, this season, he’s neutralizing the offensive prowess of both right handed batters and left handed batters with aplomb. This is actually the first postseason he’s ever pitched in, since, as you’ll recall, he was injured throughout the Red Sox’ 2013 postseason run. He’s only pitched in 4.2 innings, but he hasn’t given up a run, and he’s only yielded a single walk and a single hit. He’s also struck out 6 batters over that span. The O’s paid dearly for Miller, as they have up their No. 3 prospect, Eduardo Rodriguez, to acquire Miller’s services, but at seems like it’s been well worth it for the O’s.
- Kelly Johnson: Johnson only had 25 plate appearances with the Sox, and they were abysmal, but he’s worth mentioning because of the magical walk-off hit against the Yankees on September 14th, thereby lowering the O’s magic number to clinch the division to 3. It all served to remind me that he was ever on the Red Sox and that we traded him and Michael Almanzar (who I’d just homer for the Sea Dogs two weeks prior) for Jemile Weeks and Ivan de Jesus. Jemile Weeks was actually surprisingly effective for the Sox in the final month of the season, so it will be interesting to see what the future holds in store for Weeks, the former first-round draft pick.
- John Lackey: From pariah to unlikely playoff hero, Lackey had one of the the franchise’s most remarkable redemption arcs in recent memory, if not ever. Lackey was traded to the Cardinals in the somewhat head-scratching deadline deal for Joe Kelly and Allen Craig. Retrospectively, it’s still kind of perplexing why the Sox made the move. Lackey had hinted he didn’t want to pitch for the major league minimum next season, and he also indicated a desire to be traded to a playoff contender. Taking all that into consideration a move makes some sense, but I can’t help but feel his contract for 2015 could have been restructured and the Sox could have talked him into the notion that they’ll be competitive in 2015. In any case, he’s gone now, and he’s been a major boon for the Redbirds. He wasn’t dominant down the stretch, per se, but he kept them afloat and certainly contributed to the division title. He was, however, positively electric in game 3 of the NLDS against the Dodgers, giving up only one run over 7.0 innings with 8 strikeouts to one walk, earning the win. He’ll likely face Tim Hudson in game three of the NLCS against the Giants.
- Jake Peavy: Peavy has arguably been the difference-maker for the San Francisco Giants. One could imagine that without Peavy the Giants would not have made it to the postseason. Peavy, who had been having a mostly mediocre season up until the trade (or was it? Check out my huge piece on Peavy’s constant evolution: https://firebrandal.com/boston-red-sox/tale-two-maybe-three-peavys.html), regressed back to the mean with the Giants. He went 6-4 with a 2.17 ERA over 78.2 innings. He posted his best FIP (3.03) since 2009, in his 78.2 innings with the Giants. He also put up the best BB% since 2011 (1.94), which is actually the second best BB% of his career (in 2011 he posted the best BB% of his career: 1.93). The Sox received Edwin Escobar, the Giants’ #2 prospect and an MLB.com Top 100 prospect (#75), along with the Giants’ #11 prospect, Heath Hembree, in exchange for Peavy. All in all, this was a pretty equitable exchange. Peavy will have his work cut out for him against the Cards, as he’s been living in the strike zone quite a bit this season (as we just established), and he hasn’t been striking guys out as much. His success has come from limiting home runs and free passes, but the Cards have the third highest zone contact percentage, at 89.6%, so without swing and miss stuff and with a middling defense behind him, Peavy will be navigating stormy waters. Fortunately for him, however, he’ll be pitching game three at home, in AT&T park, one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in the majors.
It’s fun to see some old faces still hanging around deep into October, and considering the return the Sox got for some of these guys, one can’t help but feel pleased with how well things turned out for all parties involved. It’s nice to see a win-win, sometimes. Only time will tell, though, how this really plays out for the Sox. Hopefully these new faces will lead the sox back to the postseason before too long.