Red Sox vs Rays
Offense vs defense would seem to be the storyline of this ALDS Series, but what if one team is missing a key cog in the offense?
The Sox have power where they need it. Third baseman Rafael Devers has 38 homers and right fielder Hunter Renfroe has 31). Shortsop Xander Bogaerts has been great. He led the team in walks and was fourth in runs batted in. They get more pop at first from Bobby Dalbec with 25. If ever there was a guy to come into Boston and win over fans, it’s a guy named Bobby Dalbec. “That Bahhh bee. He’s a good kid. He can knock it outta the yahhhhd.” He even looks like Tony Conigliaro. And then there’s Kyle Schwarber, who has walked more in 41 games with the Sox than he did in 72 games with the Nationals. His batting average is way up, too. He looks like a guy who has figured it out. He also has a .300 career batting average in the postseason.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The Sox have an edge in super utility guy Kiké Hernandez. He can play almost every position, brings energy and crushes left-handed pitching.
The thing I like most about the Sox is that they have power without sacrificing average. Devers, Renfroe and Martinez averaged .275 for the season.
In comparison, the Tampa Rays top three home run guys –Brandon Lowe, Mike Zunino and Austin Meadows hit just two more home runs while hitting a combined .234. Randy Arozarena, the star of the postseason last year, hit 20 homers this season and struck out 170 times trying to do it.
That said, I have to admit I hate watching Devers swing and miss. He often looks out of control and half the time he looks like he just pulled something. Actually, I kind of hate watching him, period. I mean, great player and all, but I could do without ever seeing him spit again. It’s constant. On himself. On home plate. At his position. In the dugout. Isn’t spitting supposed to be banned due to Covid-19? This guy’s a one-man super spreader.
The strength of the Rays is usually the pitching staff. They walked 110 fewer batters and gave up 145 fewer hits. Boston…already used Nathan Eovaldi in the Wildcard.
The Rays have the recent experience. The Red Sox are rebounding from a rocky 2020. Also, the loss of Boston DH JD Martinez cannot be over-emphasized. If he’s unable to play, that levels the offensive playing field and Tampa already has a significant edge pitching-wise. They have three relievers with significant innings and ERAs under 2.00 and four more pitchers with ERAs under 2.70.
You don’t need a lot of runs, or a really high team batting average when you have days off every three days and pitchers who give up three runs a game in total. The team can cobble together a bullpen game at any time and have a realistic chance to win.
If Martinez can play, the pick is the Sox…with maybe a game-winning homer from…Kiké? If Martinez can’t make it back, I’ll be surprised if the Sox win a game, though Fenway is a funny place.
Prediction: Tampa in four.