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Boston Red Sox Series Preview: Oof that’s a disappointing season in Boston

A year after coming two games away from the World Series, the Red Sox look poised to be a last-place team.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles James A. Pittman-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Red Sox took the ALCS to six games last season, returned a good chunk of the same team but figured to add a healthy Chris Sale along with a big free agent signing in Trevor Story to their roster to get even better. And yet, in the middle of September, they sit under .500 and in last place in the AL East, having been leapfrogged by the Baltimore Orioles. I’m guessing this isn’t what they had in mind. They don’t exactly have their health. Their new first baseman, Eric Hosmer, is on the shelf with a lower back issue. Franchy Cordero, who had some moments, is on the shelf with a sprained ankle. On the pitching side, Kutter Crawford and Nathan Eovaldi both hit the IL in the last month or so and they joined James Paxton, who isn’t a surprise, and Sale, who made just two starts this year before getting hurt again. Tanner Houck and Josh Taylor are also missing from their bullpen. They can really hit, though they have their bouts with inconsistency, but their pitching has been bad. This is a talented roster, so hope isn’t lost for the next half decade or anything, but this has been a pretty rough year in Boston.

Royals vs. Red Sox Matchup Stats

Category Royals Red Sox
Category Royals Red Sox
Winning % .396 .483
H2H Wins 3 1
Team wRC+ 91 102
Team xFIP 4.45 4.08
Run Differential -165 -36
Highest fWAR Brady Singer, 2.4 Xander Bogaerts, 6.0

Red Sox Projected Lineup

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Tommy Pham LF 553 .245 .320 .384 9.2% 27.1% 94 1.0
Alex Verdugo RF 576 .284 .332 .404 6.4% 12.2% 104 1.7
Xander Bogaerts SS 570 .317 .384 .474 8.8% 19.5% 141 6.0
Rafael Devers 3B 542 .287 .347 .526 7.2% 18.8% 138 4.6
Trevor Story 2B 396 .238 .303 .434 8.1% 30.8% 101 2.4
JD Martinez DH 630 .272 .343 .423 9.1% 24.0% 114 0.5
Triston Casas 1B 30 .115 .233 .346 13.3% 26.7% 60 -0.1
Enrique Hernandez CF 333 .219 .282 .349 7.8% 18.3% 74 0.2
Connor Wong C 29 .250 .321 .458 10.3% 24.1% 112 0.2

Red Sox Projected Bench

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Reese McGuire C 240 .271 .308 .349 4.2% 20.4% 85 1.3
Kevin Plawecki C 173 .219 .291 .290 8.1% 16.2% 64 -0.4
Yu Chang INF 164 .216 .280 .324 6.7% 31.7% 77 0.1
Christian Arroyo INF/OF 264 .278 .321 .416 4.9% 16.7% 103 0.3
Abraham Almonte OF 6 .500 .500 .667 0.0% 16.7% 235 0.1
Rob Refsnyder OF 146 .307 .384 .472 9.6% 24.7% 141 0.8

Red Sox Key Relievers

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Garrett Whitlock 30 77.1 3 2 26.4% 4.9% 3.49 3.23 1.4
John Schreiber 57 58.1 3 3 29.2% 5.8% 2.01 2.77 1.9
Matt Barnes 37 32.2 0 4 20.0% 12.0% 5.23 4.93 0.0

Royals vs. Red Sox Projected Pitching Matchups

September 16 - RHP Jonathan Heasley vs. RHP Michael Wacha, 6:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Jonathan Heasley 17 81.2 3 8 15.4% 10.5% 5.51 5.57 -0.6
Michael Wacha 19 107.0 11 1 20.6% 6.1% 2.69 3.91 1.9

I think Jonathan Heasley drew a bad card for his last outing, having to pitch in the rain and it really did feel like it was harder when he was on the mound. But he still wasn’t good, rain or shine. His fastball velocity was down, which was something that led to him going on the IL earlier this season and he just continued to show that he’s not good enough to be in a big league rotation, not at this point just yet. Against a team that strikes out nearly as much as anyone, Heasley couldn’t record a punchout in four innings after only striking out two against them in his previous outing. The Tigers swing and miss a lot and he got 11 when facing 50 hitters. The reality is that those results just don’t cut it. It’s easy to look at his slider and his changeup and think there could be something there, but until he actually puts the results together (and throws his fastball less often), it’s probably not going to matter.

Career vs. BOS: First Appearance

There was a time when Michael Wacha looked like he might be the next big thing. He debuted in 2013 (against the Royals actually) and was great. Both in that game and that season. He was solid in 2014 and put together 30 starts in 2015, albeit with some increasingly questionable peripherals, but he was 350 innings into a heck of a start to his career and he was only heading into his age-24 season. But he struggled and was hurt and sometimes he struggled while being hurt. He bounced around a bit, but he’s really come back to the world of the effective with a very good season for the Red Sox. And he’s getting it done with his signature changeup. He’s throwing it a little less than 30 percent of the time and getting whiffs on 35 percent of swings with a .156 average allowed on it. It’s been outstanding to pair with a four-seam fastball that has been fine, a cutter that’s been up and down and a sinker that’s been very effective. That changeup has made him a nightmare for lefties and while he’s been good on the road, he’s been unreal at home with a 1.79 ERA in eight starts.

Career vs. KC: 9 G, 8 GS, 52.0 IP, 3-2, 3.81 ERA

September 17 - RHP Brady Singer vs. LHP Rich Hill, 3:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Brady Singer 24 134.2 8 4 24.0% 5.7% 3.21 3.32 2.4
Rich Hill 22 102.2 7 6 19.7% 7.6% 4.56 4.23 1.3

If nothing comes out of the 2022 season other than Brady Singer showing he’s not only a part of a big league rotation but a legitimate top half of a rotation starter, this season will have had a huge success. I’ve said a few times that he was starting to show signs of fatigue over his last few starts. He looked good for a couple of starts after his great on against the Dodgers, but then hit a wall in the fifth inning against the White Sox at the end of August and then struggled to get swings and misses against the Guardians. But he came back his last time out against a bad Tigers offense and threw seven shutout innings and it looked fairly effortless in the process. That’s a good sign. He should have three starts left after this one. If he can close out the year on a high note (with three of those four against good offenses/contending teams), that’ll go even farther to solidify my confidence in him moving forward.

Career vs. BOS: First Appearance

We all know Rich Hill’s story and it’s a good one. His career turned around with his four starts in 2015. He was 35 at that time and he came back to the team that helped him revitalize his career on a one-year deal. The problem is that after going from slightly above average to well above average for the last six seasons, he’s finally maybe started to come back to earth. His strikeouts have been down for a bit and he’s become more hittable. He hasn’t been an innings eater for awhile, but his fastball has reached a point that he probably shouldn’t be throwing it much. He’s allowed a .325 average and .569 SLG on it. The rest of his pitches have been good, but he doesn’t get a ton of swings and misses these days, even with his curve. He’s also been hit very hard at home with an OPS allowed of .845 compared to .700 on the road. His big issues have come with runners on base. He’s allowed a .223/.305/.328 line with the bases empty, but once runners get on base, that jumps to .311/.345/.609, which is decidedly not good.

Career vs. KC: 14 G, 5 GS, 25.0 IP, 2-2, 5.76 ERA

September 18 - LHP Kris Bubic vs. RHP Nick Pivetta, 12:35pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Kris Bubic 25 116.2 2 12 17.9% 10.5% 5.55 4.57 0.2
Nick Pivetta 29 160.2 9 11 22.4% 8.9% 4.31 4.24 1.8

I know I said this in the last series preview, but I honestly don’t know if what Kris Bubic is doing right now is encouraging or terribly discouraging. Obviously the results are horrible, but he’s actually throwing strikes, which was a big issue for him earlier this year. He has a 7.04 ERA in his last six starts, but that’s come with a strike rate of 66.9 percent. Prior to this stretch, he’d only bested that number in three starts. But also, he’s been hit hard. Some of the issues are bad luck with a .416 BABIP, but some of it is that maybe he’s throwing too many strikes. It’s always better to have something to lean on and while I don’t think his strike throwing is that helpful, but it’s at least something he can start from. In the eight starts prior to this stretch, he put up a 3.04 ERA with a 4.13 FIP. The BABIP in that stretch was .267, so that helped, but he only had a strike rate of 64 percent in that stretch. Can those two be married? That’s the big question as Bubic looks to be a league average pitcher like he was in 2020 and 2021.

Career vs. BOS: 3 G, 2 GS, 12.2 IP, 1-1, 6.39 ERA

There’s been some talk for quite some time that Nick Pivetta should put it together eventually. I have to say that I’m not sure I’ve ever really fully understood that. His fastball just doesn’t seem to do enough. I feel like it can be good, but he leaves it over the plate too much and I’m surprised the numbers against it aren’t actually worse. His curve is a pretty good one when it’s right, but he hangs it too much. His slider has actually been quite good this year, so maybe that’s the pitch to be using more? He has traditional platoon splits with lefties adding 34 points of OBP and 36 points of SLG. He’s also been considerably worse at home. And he’s definitely a pitcher who you can get to if you wait. He’s allowed a .726 OPS the first time through an order, a .685 OPS the second time through and then that jumps to .837 the third time through.

Career vs. KC: 3 GS, 14.1 IP, 0-1, 7.53 ERA

Royals vs. Red Sox Prediction

The way the Royals play on the road, I just can’t imagine they’ll win more than one game. I find it kind of hard to believe they’ll win a game, but I’ll predict the one just to be optimistic.


Can the Royals squeak out a win in Boston?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    A win? Try three wins!
    (1 vote)
  • 18%
    Not only will they get a win, but they’ll take the series with two wins.
    (7 votes)
  • 47%
    Yes, but just one.
    (18 votes)
  • 31%
    Ha, no. They won’t win at all.
    (12 votes)
38 votes total Vote Now