Boston Red Sox Midseason Update

After an early exit in the 2016 ALDS marked the end of the David Ortiz era Boston, the Red Sox’ emerging group of young superstars looked set to take over the reins in 2017. The acquisitions of ace pitcher Chris Sale from the Chicago White Sox, as well as first baseman Mitch Moreland from the Texas Rangers over the offseason bolstered what was already a very strong Boston roster, making the Red Sox the team to beat in the AL East, if not the team to beat in the entire American League. Now, almost two months into the season, the Red Sox have yet to find their groove, but remain in close contention for a spot in the playoffs.

Headed into a series with the Texas Rangers, the Red Sox currently sit in third place in the American League East, holding a record of 22-21. The Sox trail the Yankees by four games and the Orioles by three and a half.

Unfortunately, the two biggest headlines of the Red Sox’ season thus far have been largely off the field, both stemming from incidents with their east coast rivals, the Baltimore Orioles. The first was a back and forth skirmish between the two teams that began when Baltimore third baseman Manny Machado slid into second-base with his cleats up high, spiking and injuring Red Sox second baseman, Dustin Pedroia, on April 21st. This sparked multiple instances of retaliatory actions across the next few days. First off, Red Sox pitcher, Eduardo Rodriguez, buzzed three fastballs that seemed to be fully intended to bean Machado. Just two innings later, Matt Barnes threw a fastball that went in the direction of Machado’s head, landing him immediate ejection and a four game suspension by the MLB. After a week of letting the dispute fester, the two teams faced off again, this time at Fenway Park. On May 3rd, Orioles’ starter Kevin Gausman hit Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts with a 77 mph curveball, and was promptly ejected from the game. This was also following a 98 mph fastball that narrowly missed Machado’s head earlier in the same game. Amid all of the drama, Pedroia apologized to Machado and expressed his disagreement with how his teammates handled the dirty slide situation. After having a break for nearly a month, the two teams will face each other in their next series beginning on June 1st, hopefully the tensions will have eased between the divisional rivals.

While most of the baseball world was distracted by Baltimore-Boston on-field tension, an even more disturbing incident occurred at Fenway Park that shocked fans across the nation. After a game between the two teams in Boston on May 1st, Orioles star center fielder Adam Jones reported that he was taunted with racial slurs and had a bag of peanuts thrown at him. He went on to call the experience one of the worst of his career (via USA Today). Following Jones’ statements, a number of other African-American athletes, including Yankee’s pitcher C.C. Sabathia, came out to report facing similar treatment in Boston. This is not something that the Red Sox were hoping to be in the news for so early on in 2017, and this is certainly not something that the city of Boston wants to be known for moving forward.

After trading the man whom experts predicted to be the future of the organization in Yoan Moncada, it has become clear that the Red Sox executives are placing their full faith in rookie-sensation, Andrew Benintendi. Currently hitting .280 with 5 homeruns through the first two months of the season, he’s looking to pick up production in his spot at the top of the Red Sox’s lineup.

After finishing second in AL MVP voting last year, 24-year old phenom Mookie Betts has played well thus far, but has not managed to put up as impressive numbers as he was able to last season. He is currently hitting .283 with seven home runs

On the hill, southpaw Chris Sale has glowed as the ace of the staff. He currently holds a 2.19 ERA and has tied a record already held by him and Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez after striking out 10 or more batters in his 8th consecutive start. He looks to break the feat in his next start, which is set to be against the Rangers, led by slugger Joey Gallo.

Two months into the season, there is still plenty of room for improvement, but there is no doubt that the talent on the Red Sox roster is capable of carrying this team far into the postseason.