Night(s) in the Ruts

Many have said of the Red Sox early season success that it will be interesting to see how they deal with adversity.  Well, adversity as at their door.

What started as a stacked bullpen has been seen Joel Hanrahan lost for the season, an ineffectual and always odd, Alfredo Aceves sent down to Pawtucket.  Daniel Bard hasn’t found his form and Andrew Bailey has spent a few weeks on the DL.  Add to it the offense, save for last night’s outburst, that has been horrendous of late, has led to a 3-9 performance over the last 12 games.

The Red Sox benefited from a relatively light schedule at the beginning of the year.  That’s not to take away from the AL East, but let’s face it, all AL East teams have their significant question marks:  The Yankees are loaded with injuries (yet have been winning nonetheless…as always), the Blue Jays imported a bunch of talent that didn’t do anything last year, the Orioles, well, they just seem to play better baseball than they should and the Rays are always hamstrung by a low payroll.  Sprinkle in games against Houston and Cleveland and the schedule wasn’t too tough, baseball-reference.com has them as an average strength of schedule.  Things, however, got tough when they traveled to Texas and got swept.  That’s when the wheels came off.

It’ll be very interesting to see how the Red Sox deal with the next 10-15 games.  With Andrew Bailey set to return, hopefully the bullpen will settle down a bit and hopefully the starters, other than Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, can offer up a few innings.  Ryan Dempster has probably pitched better than his record, but he is still 2-4.  The good news is the Sox are still 6 games over .500 and are very much in the mix in the AL East and Wildcard.

Ben Cherington has to be wondering if they are going to be buyers or sellers in a couple of months.  My original prediction of 82-88 wins is still in range.  A 6 game swing/margin in a prediction is somewhat lame, I know, but I guess my point is that they could be average to borderline wildcard.  They are currently projected to win 88.1 games according to coolstandings.com, so I’m not totally off and of course I would be the happiest person on Earth if they came in above 88 wins.

If the Red Sox do stay competitive, it will be very tough for Cherington to sell off parts, but let’s face it, this is not a World Series team.  I think their pitching is fine, but their lack of offense lately is worrisome.  Where has it gone for the last 12 games?  12 games!!!  Cherington will be best served selling off various pieces/parts to better prepare the Red Sox for 2014.

Tomorrow: Let’s talk about Jacoby Ellsbury.