It's been a strange year in the Old Town.
They didn't exactly burst out of the gate. They returned most of the team that had won 92 games and advanced past the Yankees and Rays to the ALCS in 2021. But two months into this season they were stuck in fourth place with a 23-27 record. At which point, they got hot. Really, really hot. Winning 19 of 23 games hot. Their surge moved them past Tampa Bay and Toronto into second place in the division. It was driven by outstanding pitching. The Bostons gave up just 85 runs in 26 June games, an exceptionally stingy 3.26 per game. Only the god-like Dodgers give up fewer runs than that.
But just as suddenly as they had heated up, they cooled off; and just as hot as they had been, that's how cold they would quickly become. The Red Sox stumbled through a disastrous July, losing 17 of 22 at one point. Their troubles came down to the appalling number of runs they were giving up - 181 of them in 27 July games, which is a mind-boggling 6.7 per game. No major league team allows that many opposition runs. No one even comes close. The lowlight was surely a three game stretch against their division rivals from New York and Toronto in which the Red Sox were outscored 55-8.
They probably curse the evil fate that has landed them in the AL East. The Red Sox have a losing record against all four divisional foes, and a dreadful 16-32 against them as a collective. They've done much better against the AL Central (15-12) and have positively thrived against the AL West (21-8), with a winning record against all five teams, even the mighty Astros.
At the deadline, they were not the buyers they thought they might be a month earlier, but they chose not to cash in any of their major assets. They did send veteran catcher Christian Vazquez to Houston, and removed a couple of offensive black holes from their regular lineup. Jackie Bradley Jr is gone entirely, and Bobby Dalbec is strictly a platoon option now. Dalbec's new platoon partner, Eric Hosmer, hasn't yet done much with the Red Sox. He's still an upgrade on Dalbec. He's also just gone on the IL with lower back inflammation and Franchy Cordero is back on the active roster.Tommy Pham was added to the outfield mix, and he starts in LF most days, with Jarren Duran and Alex Verdugo joining him in the outfield. Enrique Hernandez is back after missing two months to switch between the infield and outfield. Catching duties have been taken over by Kevin Plawecki and a new addition - former Jay Reese McGuire, obtained from the White Sox for Jake Diekman. Plawecki is hitting .183 with no power, and McGuire is off to a nifty 12-32 start (.375) as a Red Sox, so we may see a bit of him this week.
After skipping his last start, Nathan Eovaldi was supposed to return to the rotation for the series opener. It's not going to happen, and Eovaldi has gone on the IL. Josh Winckowski will take his place. Alex Cora has been juggling his rotation. The Jays will/won't see Michael Wacha after all. At any rate, Wacha is the one starting pitcher who has been really good this year. Rich Hill was originally pencilled in for the second game, but he does seem to be demonstrating that Fenway Park may not be the best career option for a 42 year old southpaw - he's 1-3, 6.82 in his 7 home starts this year
Tue 23 Aug - Stripling (5-3, 2.93) vs Winckowski (5-6, 5.19)
Wed 24 Aug - Berrios (9-5, 5.39) vs Bello (0-3, 8.47)
Thu 25 Aug - Gausman (9-9, 2.99) vs Crawford (3-5, 5.14)