clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Boston Red Sox Series Preview: A battle of losing streaks at Fenway

One team has lost eight in a row. The other is the Royals. Yikes.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Boston Red Sox
Aug 1, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts (2) watches his home run during the fifth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals are 1-7 over their last eight games, which is really bad and also means they’re a game ahead of the Boston Red Sox over that stretch. Yes, that’s right, after creeping into the discussion for the postseason and maybe even a possible miracle run at the AL East, the Red Sox have lost a whopping eight games in a row and find themselves now 6.5 out of the second Wild Card and 14.5 games out of first place. To say they’re reeling is an understatement. To say this series against a true also-ran is important is a bigger understatement. It’s not over for Boston, but if they don’t have a huge series against a team they’re clearly better than, they might as well look ahead to 2020. For the Red Sox, offense isn’t the problem. They only have one regular who is a below average hitter and he hits ninth and plays amazing defense. It’s the pitching staff. They have some great pitchers, but they’re just not doing what they need to do. The bullpen isn’t up to par, the starters aren’t up to par and because of it, the Red Sox are unlikely to have the chance to defend their title

Meet the Red Sox

Royals vs. Red Sox Tale of the Tape

Category Royals Red Sox
Category Royals Red Sox
Winning % .354 .518
Team wRC+ 85 109
Team xFIP 4.89 4.33
2019 H2H Wins 0 3
H2H Runs 8 23
Run Differential -111 56
Highest fWAR Whit Merrifield, 2.6 Xander Bogaerts, 5.1

Red Sox Projected Lineup

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Mookie Betts RF 530 .284 .389 .493 14.7% 14.7% 127 3.8
Rafael Devers 3B 489 .320 .369 .562 7.0% 15.5% 137 4.3
Xander Bogaerts SS 497 .306 .386 .565 11.7% 18.3% 143 5.1
J.D. Martinez DH 467 .299 .376 .539 10.7% 20.6% 133 2.3
Andrew Benintendi LF 462 .285 .357 .467 9.5% 23.8% 113 2.2
Brock Holt 2B 161 .314 .379 .407 8.7% 19.3% 107 0.6
Mitch Moreland 1B 196 .221 .306 .506 11.2% 23.0% 104 0.2
Christian Vazquez C 355 .285 .325 .494 5.9% 18.6% 106 3.1
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF 407 .224 .319 .397 10.1% 26.3% 85 0.7

Red Sox Projected Bench

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Sandy Leon C 140 .192 .255 .304 7.1% 23.6% 43 0.0
Sam Travis 1B/OF 80 .250 .288 .368 5.0% 22.5% 68 -0.1
Michael Chavis INF 361 .259 .327 .460 8.0% 33.5% 101 0.9

Red Sox Key Relievers

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Nathan Eovaldi 9 25.2 0 0 21.2% 10.2% 6.66 4.78 -0.1
Brandon Workman 50 48.2 8 1 33.9% 16.4% 2.03 4.67 1.1
Matt Barnes 48 43.1 3 4 41.1% 12.6% 4.36 2.42 1.2
Darwinson Hernandez 11 13.1 0 1 40.0% 20.0% 2.03 3.57 0.3

Probable Pitching Matchups

Monday August 5th - 6:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Mike Montgomery 23 38.1 1 4 13.2% 8.6% 6.34 4.78 -0.5
Rick Porcello 22 122.1 9 8 18.0% 6.2% 5.74 5.27 1.2

Rick Porcello takes the ball in game one of the series, and he’s had about the worst year possible as he heads to free agency in the fall. He’s allowed more earned runs than anyone in baseball. His strikeouts are down from teh last two years. His walks are pretty high for him and he’s allowign a ton of home runs. It’s now been three full seasons since his Cy Young campaign of 2016, and he’s going to head into free agency with more than 2,000 innings and might have to search for a one-year deal, which is something I don’t think anyone would have expected a couple years ago. He’s allowing barrels at an alarming rate (10.2 percent) with a big culprit being his sinker. He’s allowed a .338 average and .546 slugging percentage on that pitch. It’s just not doing the trick like it has in the past. Add in a changeup that’s been battered this year to the tune of four home runs in 62 plate appearances and it’s easy to see where he’s had his problems. Porcello has never been particularly great against the Royals, going 9-8 in his career with a 4.66 ERA in 23 starts.

The Royals counter with Mike Montgomery, making his fourth start with the Royals and pretty much off any pitch restrictions. It’s been a bit of a mixed bag for him so far. His first start was probably a case of not really being ready to go as far as he did. His next start was better in the raw numbers but without a single swing and miss, you had to wonder how sustainable it would be. And then in his last start, he had a rough first and a rough fifth, but in between actually looked like someone who could be a factor in a rotation. He actually got eight swins and misses in 78 pitches, which was his second highest whiff total and highest pitch total of the season. He got a good number of ground balls and really was a bit of a tough luck pitcher. Of course, that’s the plight of pitching to contact. Sometimes those balls find holes even if they’re not struck well. This Red Sox lineup crushes everyone but maybe has a little more trouble with lefties, so that’s a plus, sort of, though they are still hitting .268/.324/.480 against lefty starters, so it’s not like it’s much to get excited about. This’ll be a very tough test.

Tuesday August 6th - 6:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Jakob Junis 23 132.1 6 10 21.8% 8.1% 5.03 4.57 1.0
Andrew Cashner 21 119.2 10 6 16.2% 7.7% 4.44 4.99 1.8

Andrew Cashner was the big move for the Red Sox this year, and he was pretty good with the Orioles actually before, but he’s been genuinely awful with Boston, pitching to a 6.94 ERA with 31 hits allowed in 23.1 innings with his typical low-strikeout, high-walk numbers. His ground ball rate with the Red Sox is up from really any time since 2013, but his strand rate is just 61.5 percent, which indicates there might be some bad luck, though the peripherals are ugly enough to think there might not be a rebound. He’s really flipped from a sinker guy to a four-seam/changeup guy, and that’s good in some ways because his changeup has been dynamite this year with a 27 percent whiff rate and .216 AVG/.329 SLG, but his four-seamer has been not great with a .305 average against and .477 SLG. For him, more than most, it’s about getting ahead in the count. When he has the advantage, opponents are hitting .164 with a .216 SLG. When he’s behind, opponents are hitting .301 with a .558 SLG. The 622 point gap in OPS allowed between when he’s ahead and behind is 133 points larger than league average, so he really benefits from getting ahead, but he doesn’t do it enough.

Jakob Junis seems like a bad fit to face this lineup in this park. He wasn’t really bad in his last outing with the numbers taking a hit when he was asked to come back out for the eighth. I believe Ned Yost is doing this as a test given the circumstances of the season, but he’s also probably costing some arbitration money with these decisions to get guys back out there. Junis had gone seven innings and allowed two runs before giving up two more in an eighth inning he probably never should have seen. After a strong start to his second half, he’s now given up 10 earned runs in 13 innings over his last two starts. On the plus side, he had 14 swinging strikes in 92 pitches and really did look fantastic against the Blue Jays. This is a tougher lineup than that one, though, and that lineup can be pretty tough with all the power they possess. He’s made one start in Fenway in his career and was actually pretty good. He gave up just two runs on seven hits and allowed one home run in six innings in a start last year. That would be a great outcome in this one.

Wednesday August 7th - 6:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Glenn Sparkman 21 88.2 3 7 13.0% 6.1% 5.58 5.59 -0.4
Eduardo Rodriguez 23 135.1 13 5 24.3% 8.8% 4.19 4.22 1.8

Eduardo Rodriguez has arguably been Boston’s best starter this season with Chris Sale on another downward slide. When he takes the mound, he’ll tie his career-high for starts in a season and when he records his seventh out of the game, he’ll reach his career high in innings pitched in a season. All that is to say that he hasn’t been terribly durable throughout his career, so to see him averaging about six innings per start and taking the ball every fifth day is encouraging for Boston. He has a pretty average fastball, but a changeup that is a difference maker when he’s on. The problem is that when it’s not on, he tends to not be on and that can cause a big problem for the Red Sox. The good news for him and the Red Sox is that he’s actually handled right-handed hitters better than lefties (due in large part to that changeup), which means he has the tools to neutralize Hunter Dozier and Jorge Soler and when those two are neutralized, the Royals offense often is. The Boston bullpen is a problem for Rodriguez, though. He’s gotten just 21 outs after the sixth inning alls eason but has allowed a .342/.432/.531 line in the seven this year (he hasn’t seen the eighth), so if you can get through six against him with the game close, there’s an opportunity to come back.

Those sitting in the monster seats should probably wear some body armor with Glenn Sparkman on the hill against this lineup. He only allowed one home run to the Twins on Friday, which is something, I guess, but he’s now allowed 17 in his last nine starts and that includes a shutout. That’s 17 in 57.2 innings pitched with 72 hits allowed and a .576 slugging percentage. Again, that includes a nine-inning game where he didn’t allow an extra base hit. So this doesn’t look very good for the future middle reliever. In his last three starts, he has a 10.57 ERA in 15.1 innings with a swinging strike rate of just seven percent. He’s surprised us before, so I would never say never, but if you’re into gambling, betting the over on this game might not be a bad way to spend your money. Sparkman has never pitched at Fenway, but he has allowed a gentleman’s .421/.452/.605 line to the Red Sox in 42 career plate appearances against them.


Both teams are a disaster right now. The Red Sox are a more talented disaster with their backs right up against the wall. I’m not really sure what kind of team they are, so it’s hard to say if that’s bad news for the Royals or good, but I’m going to say it’s mostly bad. I think the Royals end their losing streak in this series, but so do the Red Sox as they take two of three and win the series.


Who takes the battle of the losing streaks?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    Royals Sweep
    (6 votes)
  • 46%
    Red Sox Sweep
    (35 votes)
  • 5%
    Royals Win Two of Three
    (4 votes)
  • 40%
    Red Sox Win Two of Three
    (30 votes)
75 votes total Vote Now