Too late for a Red Sox miracle?

Xander Bogaerts of the Boston Red Sox bats at a game.

The Red Sox have had an inconsistent season to say the least. Despite the off-season losses of the cannon-armed Hunter Renfrow, veteran Eduardo Rodriguez, and current National League home run leader and “Waltham native” Kyle Schwarber, the Red Sox were still seen as a team that would make their mark in the 2022 season.

Off-season acquisitions were a must for the Red Sox to improve on their 2021 campaign. With the signings of power-hitter Trevor Story, who helped fill the hole at second base and solidified a true starter at the position; starting pitchers Rich Hill, Michael Wacha and James Paxton; and bullpen help with Jake Diekman and Matt Strahm, the Red Sox were projected to compete with the same intensity and relentless attack they had last season.

Last season ultimately paid dividends when they made the American League Championship series against the Houston Astros. This season though, not so much. Aside from some moments in May and June, the Red Sox never really clicked collectively as a team. After going 20–6 in June with high hopes of playing in the wild card with a comfortable 43–33 record (1), July and August saw the Red Sox go from potential contenders for the World Series title to the laughingstock of the MLB in the matter of just two months. One game that would sum up the abysmal array of games the Red Sox had would be the 28–5 blowout against the Toronto Blue Jays on July 22.

During that stretch though, there were several factors that led to the downfall of the team, whether it was the plague of injuries they have had during the summer months and now, or the lack of consistency at the plate and on the mound. With a healthier lineup, and some fresh new faces making an impact, there still is a glimpse of hope in light of the rough stretch of games, and now would be the perfect time to go on a run like the one they had in June. With the team being 10 games back in the wildcard standings with 21 games remaining though (2), is it too late to pray for a miracle for the Red Sox to make the playoffs?

Two of the biggest problems the Red Sox are facing this season are injuries, and inconsistencies in play. Starting pitchers Chris Sale and Nate Eovaldi were both battling with injuries all season, with Eovaldi currently out for the foreseeable future, and Sale out for the rest of the season. Other pitchers sidelined include James Paxton and Josh Taylor, both of whom have been sidelined for the entire season (3). This has been proven costly with the struggling pitching staff, given their reliability in years past, whether it be with the Red Sox or other teams.

On the flip side, some key offensive talent the Red Sox missed for considerable amounts of time were both Kike Hernandez and Trevor Story. Kike, whose remarkable playing in the playoffs last season proved just how phenomenal he can be both offensively and defensively, battled a hip flexor injury, as well as a hematoma that caused him to miss 60 games (4). Story, on the other hand, dealt with a nagging wrist injury sustained from a hit by pitch on July 12 (5); fortunately, both players are back and are more than important to the Red Sox if they want to make a last-ditch effort and miraculously make the playoffs.

Inconsistency on both offense and defense is another huge problem for the Red Sox, and this ties into injuries to star players as well. With Kike gone, the team had to turn to Jarren Duran in center field, and though he looked promising, his poor fielding and dismal performance at the plate cost the Red Sox in the long run. The same goes for injuries to Story, as both Christian Arroyo and Yolmer Sanchez filled in for him when he was gone. Arroyo has proven to be a valuable player for the team, though Sanchez was sent back down to the minor leagues when Story came back from injury.

Starters Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers have seen a decrease in power numbers too. This is especially true for Martinez, who hit an underwhelming 11 home runs, which has provided nothing but a lack of spark for the offense. As for Bogaerts and Devers, who are notorious among fans as hopeful cornerstones of the franchise for years to come, their ability to hit the long ball has also dwindled, but their consistent hitting has produced great offensive output, despite some recent slumps.

However, injuries to both Devers and Bogaerts in past games brought forward a team that was not as consistent, compared to the team that started the season. Devers’ injury caused some moves to be made around the trade deadline, with first baseman Eric Hosmer being acquired from the San Diego Padres, who, shockingly enough, is also injured. Tommy Pham was also brought in from the Cincinnati Reds to help relieve some stress around the depleted outfield and the injury to Kike, too.

Prior to Hosmer, the struggles of Bobby Dalbec and Franchy Cordero brought a blow to the offense and defense at first base. Now, with Cordero out for the rest of the season, and Dalbec sent down to the minor leagues, the Red Sox have called up power threat and number two prospect Triston Casas to share first base duties with Christian Arroyo. With the debut of Casas, and the way Arroyo has played all season, the reliability of having two productive first basemen can help ignite a stagnant offense in a time of need.

With a healthier, improved team, the Red Sox can potentially go on a roll and contribute the way they did before the summer started. The team must go into survival mode if they want any chance to make the playoffs whatsoever. Now is the time for the Red Sox to generate good at bats and play hard-fought baseball before their chances at postseason play are completely diminished. They have already shown that they have the capability to compete with the best teams in the league when they played at the top of their level in June.

It’s a matter of time before everything starts clicking again now that key players are back. With some new faces in the mix with a lineup that had profound success before injuries bugged them, now is the best time for the level of production to soar and win crucial games in the final stretch of the season. The only question is, with the health of the team being the x-factor, and the Red Sox once again having a sustainable number of healthy players to compete at high level again, is it too late for an extraordinary comeback?

(1)2022 Boston Red Sox Schedule - MLB - CBSSports.com

(2)2022 MLB Magic Numbers and Clinching Scenarios | Major League Baseball | Playoff Magic | How will your favorite team make the playoffs?

(3) 2022 Boston Red Sox Injuries - MLB - CBSSports.com

(4)Kiké Hernández Details 'Traumatizing' Injury That Kept Him Out Of Lineup (nesn.com)

(5) Red Sox's Trevor Story returns to the field following wrist injury | Fox News

(4)Kiké Hernández Details 'Traumatizing' Injury That Kept Him Out Of Lineup (nesn.com)

(5) Red Sox's Trevor Story returns to the field following wrist injury | Fox News

(1) comment

R U Kidding

Excuse me. I'm not sure what you're talking about. The Red Sox are 10 games out of the final wild card position, with 16 games left to play, and would have to leapfrog three other teams. You cray-ay-ay-zayyyyy, boy...

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