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Boston Red Sox series preview: This could get ugly fast

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Best team in the AL versus the worst?

Boston Red Sox v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Two teams with inverse records will face off at Fenway Park this week. The Boston Red Sox, at 20-7, possess the best record in baseball. Their pitching staff has the second-most fWAR in the game. Everything is coming up Boston this baseball season.

The Royals own a 7-20 record, a mark only half a game better than the worst team in baseball (the Cincinnati Reds). The Royals pitching staff is the third-worst in the game.

These two teams couldn’t be more unevenly matched. Prepare for three bloodbaths. Anything less will be a pleasant surprise.

Game times and pitching matchups are as follows:

  • Monday, April 30 - 6:10 PM CDT - Jason Hammel versus Eduardo Rodriguez (L)
  • Tuesday, May 1 - 6:10 PM CDT - Jake Junis versus Chris Sale (L)
  • Wednesday, May 2 - 12:05 PM CDT - Danny Duffy (L) versus Drew Pomeranz (L)

Royals at Red Sox pitching matchups

Pitcher G IP K K% BB BB% ERA FIP xFIP SIERA fWAR rWAR
Pitcher G IP K K% BB BB% ERA FIP xFIP SIERA fWAR rWAR
Game 1
Jason Hammel 5 32.0 17 12.8 9 6.8 3.38 3.37 4.81 5.03 0.7 0.7
Eduardo Rodriguez (L) 4 22.1 23 24.5 8 8.5 3.63 3.94 4.01 3.86 0.3 0.6
Game 2
Jake Junis 5 32.1 25 19.7 7 5.5 3.34 5.78 4.58 4.18 -0.1 0.9
Chris Sale (L) 6 35.0 45 32.6 8 5.8 2.31 2.87 2.98 2.79 1.1 1.5
Game 3
Danny Duffy (L) 6 31.2 28 19.7 14 9.9 5.40 4.79 4.80 4.71 0.2 0.0
Drew Pomeranz (L) 2 8.2 11 27.5 4 10.0 7.27 6.53 3.82 3.77 -0.1 -0.1

The Royals draw three straight southpaws in the series, though this isn’t much of a surprise, given the presence of four lefties in Boston’s rotation. The first wrong-handed pitcher the Kansas City nine will face is Eduardo Rodriguez. The 25-year-old Venezuelan, who came over to Boston in the deal that sent Andrew Miller to Baltimore in 2014, has established himself as a fixture in the Red Sox rotation. In his four starts so far, he’s oddly seen a big spike in his GB% (49.2 compared to his career average of 37.5) and his Pull% is a whopping 54.0 (career average is just 39.2). He’s relying on his four-seamer less than ever before opting for the change more frequently and reintroducing a cutter that he scrapped in 2017 (at least per Pitch Info’s data).

Given the amount of time that Royals fans spent watching Chris Sale, there’s probably no need to break him down. He’s still really good.

Moving on to Drew Pomeranz, it’s rare for a fifth-overall pick to bounce around as much as Pomeranz has. The southpaw from Ole Miss bounced from Cleveland, where he was drafted in 2010 and then packaged as the player-to-be-named-later in the Ubaldo Jiménez deal back in 2011. He made four starts for the Rockies in at the end of the 2011 season and pitched two-thirds of the next season with the Rockies before being shipped off to Oakland (as part of the Brett Anderson deal) after a dismal 2013 that saw him languish in the minors for the bulk of the year. After two seasons in Oakland where he wasn’t ever really able to break into the rotation, Pomeranz got shipped to San Diego in the deal that brought Yonder Alonso to Oakland, and the southpaw had his breakout campaign, one that made him one of the top arms on the trading block come the 2016 trade deadline. The Red Sox shipped off highly touted prospect Anderson Espinoza for Pomeranz, and Pomeranz gave Boston 3.6 fWAR over his next 46 games (one relief appearance mixed in with 45 starts). After starting the season on the disabled list with a forearm flexor strain, Pomeranz has made two rough starts, the last one rough enough that Red Sox pitching coach Dana LeVangie wondered if pitches were being tipped. If it is that, one can assume the glitch will be fixed by Wednesday afternoon’s tilt. If he’s still pitching injured, maybe even this Royals’ offense can get to him.

Boston Red Sox position players

Name Pos. PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR
Name Pos. PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR
Mookie Betts RF 107 8 29 18 3 .344 .439 .733 .486 206 1.8 1.7
J.D. Martinez DH/OF 107 5 15 22 0 .330 .374 .567 .400 149 0.8 1.1
Xander Bogaerts SS 49 2 7 11 0 .391 .408 .696 .464 191 0.8 0.6
Hanley Ramirez 1B 105 3 18 17 3 .326 .400 .467 .382 136 0.6 0.6
Rafael Devers (L) 3B 112 4 10 20 1 .267 .321 .446 .322 97 0.5 0.7
Andrew Benintendi (L) LF 109 1 16 14 5 .242 .358 .396 .332 104 0.5 0.3
Mitch Moreland (L) 1B 62 2 8 11 1 .273 .339 .473 .350 116 0.2 0.3
Eduardo Núñez 2B 97 2 13 7 1 .239 .278 .380 .288 75 0.0 -0.4
Tzu-Wei Lin (L) IF 33 0 3 1 0 .207 .303 .276 .268 61 0.0 0.1
Jackie Bradley Jr. (L) CF 96 2 13 7 2 .202 .292 .321 .278 68 -0.2 -0.1
Blake Swihart (S) C/LF 21 0 1 1 0 .150 .190 .200 .178 1 -0.3 -0.2
Sandy Leon (S) C 32 0 2 2 1 .129 .156 .129 .134 -28 -0.3 -0.3
Christian Vázquez C 78 0 6 3 0 .183 .247 .239 .225 32 -0.4 -0.3

Driven by red-hot starts from Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, and Xander Bogaerts, the Crimson Stockinged position players have amassed 4.2 fWAR through their first 27 games, good for the eighth-best total in baseball. Their 109 wRC+ ties them for the sixth-best mark in the game with the Mariners, and their .340 wOBA (which unlike wRC+ is not adjusted for park factors) ties them for the second-best mark in the game with the Athletics, trailing only the Yankees. The offense is carrying the lion’s share of the weight of the club’s contributions from their position players. The defense has totaled -3.1 UZR, the sixth-worst mark amongst teams, and their -10 DRS backs up UZR, ranking them the fifth-worst defensive unit in the game.

Poll

How will the Royals fare in Boston?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    Royals sweep
    (23 votes)
  • 7%
    Royals take two of three
    (19 votes)
  • 32%
    Red Sox take two of three
    (81 votes)
  • 50%
    Red Sox sweep
    (123 votes)
246 votes total Vote Now