Sox and Orioles Have Similar Teams

People like to make a big deal about pitching, especially starting pitching. Some go so far as to claim that pitching is 75 percent of the game. Well, the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles are the two best teams in the AL East at the moment, and neither one has an ounce of pitching. In fact, the Red Sox and Orioles have similar teams, which might explain why they’re only one game apart in the standings.

Baltimore and Boston are built to mash, with above-average bats at almost every positionSox and Orioles Have Similar Teams. Their lineups run deep with power, so it’s not surprising that they’re the American League’s top two teams in terms of slugging percentage. Sluggers also tend to be adept at getting on base, and sure enough both offenses sport one of the three best team on-base percentages in the American League. One key difference is that the Sox have speed, whereas the Orioles don’t. Boston ranks fourth in the AL in stolen bases with 35, nearly four times Baltimore’s last-place total of nine.

Their rotations are also similarly constructed. Both rely on an ace, David Price for Boston and Chris Tillman for Baltimore, and have strong number twos as well in Steven Wright and Kevin Gausman. Beyond them, however, quality starts have been hard to come by. Clay Buchholz and Joe Kelly need fixing in Boston, while Mike Wright and Ubaldo Jimenez aren’t the answer for Baltimore. Starting pitching is a clear weakness for both teams and something each needs to address as the trade deadline approaches.

Thankfully, both have strong bullpens to compensate for their lackluster starters. The Red Sox have a formidable late-game trio of Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara, and Craig Kimbrel, while the Orioles have a fantastic triumvirate of their own in Dylan Bundy, Darren O’Day, and Zach Britton. Both teams are tough to beat when they have a lead in the late innings.

The Sox and Orioles have similar teams, so it’s fitting that they just split a four-game series at Camden Yards while scoring the exact same amount of runs. Their lineups beat the crap out of each other, culminating in two wild slugfests on Wednesday and Thursday night. Expect the season to play out in a similar fashion as both clubs duke it out for the top spot in the AL East.

Rivalry Resumes This Weekend

After sweeping the Yankees at Fenway Park last weekend, the Red Sox look to break out the brooms again when baseball’s most storied rivalry resumes this weekend at Yankee Stadium.

The divisional foes are heading in opposite directions as they begin their second series of the seasonRivalry Resumes This Weekend. The Sox have surged into first place with their recent hot streak, winning nine of their past 11 to overtake Baltimore at the top of the AL East. The slumping Yankees, meanwhile, are languishing in last place, seven games back of Boston.

Pitching Matchups Favor Sox

Boston looks to keep rolling when the rivalry resumes this weekend behind Rick Porcello, who’s pitching like an ace these days. Porcello is off to a 5-0 start and hasn’t allowed an earned run in 13 2/3 innings, the last seven of which came in Saturday’s 8-0 rout of the Bombers. His opponent, Michael Pineda, will have to be more efficient with his pitches to win their rematch; Pineda needed 106 pitches to get through five innings last time and has yet to go past the sixth this year.

Saturday’s matinee features a frustratingly inconsistent duo in David Price and Nathan Eovaldi, both of whom can be dominant when they’re on but have been terrible when they’re not.  Price, for instance, leads the league in strikeouts and earned runs—a rare combination. Eovaldi has also been up and down, averaging over a strikeout per inning but carrying a 5.46 ERA. Both struggled in their most recent duel, allowing six runs apiece in Sunday’s slugfest. If both bring their best stuff, however, the final score will be 2-1 instead of 8-7.

Sunday’s series finale could go either way, with Steven Wright on the hill for Boston against New York’s Luis Severino. Wright has been a revelation with a 1.67 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in five starts this year, but like all knuckleballers he’s completely unpredictable. The same could be said of Severino, who has a 6.31 ERA this year but posted a 2.89 ERA last year. The last time either appeared in a Yankees-Sox game was last August, when Severino made his major league debut against Wright at The Stadium. Both were fantastic, allowing only one run each as Boston edged New York 2-1, so their rematch certainly has pitching duel potential.

Another Sweep?

Based on pitching matchups and recent results, Boston should be favorites in every game. The Red Sox have their top three starters going this series, while the Yankees will be without their two best (Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia). Both Porcello and Wright have outperformed their respective counterparts by a wide margin this year, while Price is a good bet to bounce back. None of them are expected to face much resistance from a Yankees lineup that ranks last in the AL in runs and just lost Alex Rodriguez to the DL.

Predicting a sweep is always risky given the sheer randomness of baseball, but don’t be surprised if Boston sweeps their arch-nemesis again when the rivalry resumes this weekend.

Blue Jays Starter Marcus Stroman Rehabs at McCoy Stadium

As the Red Sox focus on letting their young players get playing time down the stretch, the American League East leading Blue Jays are looking forward to getting back one of their key players for the stretch run. Starting Pitcher Marcus Stroman made a rehab appearance with the Buffalo Bisons on Monday at McCoy Stadium and said he is ready to return.

Stroman, 24, who is at the end of a crazy recovery after tearing his knee in Spring Marcus StromanTraining just fielding his position, seems to be done talking about his knee and ready to start for the Blue Jays. Stroman won 11 games for the Blue Jays last season in 20 starts and could take the rotation spot of Drew Hutchison, who has double digit wins but a very high ERA. Hutchison has already been demoted this season and would likely move to the bullpen if the Blue Jays decide Stroman is ready to return to the rotation.

If Stroman were to return to the rotation on regular rest, his first start of the season would come this Saturday against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

In 3 innings of work Stroman had a line of 8 H, 4 ER, 4 BB and 5 K. Obviously not the line you look to get in 3 innings of work against a PawSox lineup that has been ripped apart due the Red Sox struggles and injuries but Stroman seemed upbeat and even remarked that Boston affiliates have hit him well before.

Stroman tore his knee on March 10th during fielding drills in Spring Training and began a long road to recovery. Knee injuries, most expect to take a full year but some have come back sooner, Adrian Peterson comes to mind of the Minnesota Vikings. Stroman even went back to class at Duke University to finish his degree while rehabbing.

The prolific Toronto offense is what comes to mind when most think of the Blue Jays but the pitching since the acquisition of David Price is what has been of note for the Jays. With all the moves the Blue Jays made this season it looks like they are going for it and Marcus Stroman will soon be back sooner than many thought.

AL East Could Be Open Again

The Red Sox are doing it again – playing well enough to make me think they could go on a run. The Red Sox have gone 5-2 in their last 7 games against AL East opposition, and have won 3 of their last 4 series (8-5 overall). Which includes a series victory against the defending AL champs, the Kansas City Royals, by the way.

If they want to have any chance at making a run, Gordon Edes points out that they wouldAL East Red Sox 2015 have to go on a ridiculous tear worthy of what the 2004 Red Sox did. Hypothetically, if 90 wins were enough to win the AL East, the Red Sox would have to go 53-28 for the rest of the season. As Edes points out, the only time the Red Sox have been able to put together that kind of run since the schedule moved to 162 games in 1961 is when they went 54-27 down the stretch in 2004 en route to a World Series title.

Could they do it? Talent-wise, they might (key word being might!) be able to. In reality, though, probably not, given the way this season has gone. The problem, as Edes points out (and I agree with him), is that the 2004 team was loaded – they had Curt Schilling (still in top form), Pedro Martinez, the best 3-4 offensive combination at the time in David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, and a Gold Glove infield, among other pieces. The 2015 team falls woefully short of that, to say the least.

They’ll have to make a few trade deadline deals and fill some of their holes if they want to have any shot of contending for the AL East this year, and I hope they do. If they can make a few moves without breaking their farm system while fetching good, major league-ready talent in return, then I’d be for it.

This could just be me starting to tell myself that there’s still hope where there is none, but I hope not. I’m sick of losing, and I would love to see the Red Sox at least make some kind of effort to get back into contention for the AL East. And hope some of the other guys

Hey, I can dream, can’t I? We’re only 6.5 out at the moment.

Should The Red Sox Have Brought Back Andrew Miller?

Andrew Miller

There is no question last season the Red Sox were in sell mode and, with Andrew Miller set to be a free agent, the Red Sox wanted to get something of value for the pitcher who would command a lot on the open market. With the trade to the Orioles on July 31st, Andrew Miller stepped in and was a part of the Orioles team that won the American League East behind their lefty closer Zach Britton.

Fast forward to this past week at Fenway Park and Andrew Miller is now the closer of the division rival—first place Yankees.Andrew Miller Miller has been paired with Dellin Betances to form one of the more dominant 1-2 punches thus far in the major leagues when it comes to shutting down teams in the late innings.

The Red Sox acquired Eduardo Rodriguez from the Orioles in the Miller trade and he has looked great since coming over from Baltimore. Rodriguez started the year in AAA Pawtucket, but could prove to be valuable down the stretch should the Sox need a starter. With this pitching staff so far, we may be seeing Rodriguez sooner rather than later.

Obviously the Red Sox are happy they got Rodriguez for Miller, but could they have both of them? In the off-season Miller was being heavily pursued as a set-up man and closer for some teams; the Yankees, Red Sox, Astros and Orioles were all in the running. Miller turned down the Astros offer, who then signed Pat Neshek and Luke Gregerson. The Orioles were cutting payroll so, Miller likely was not returning to the Orioles in the first place. The Yankees gave Miller $36 million over 4 years and the Red Sox were left in the dust. The thought of trading Lester and then re-signing him in the off-season was made into a huge deal, but re-signing Miller should have been a big deal, in my opinion, as well.

The biggest deal in this is that Miller is still only 29 so, he still has a while to pitch and pitch well. The Red Sox bullpen so far has been over used, but they have not been impressive either. Koji Uehara, who missed the first week, has seen his velocity go down substantially and Edward Mujica has been relegated to mop up duty. Junichi Tazawa, who has been the best pitcher on the staff as a whole, is still owned by the Blue Jays and, as we saw this weekend, Alex Rodriguez. The Red Sox bullpen would look a lot better with Andrew Miller in it.

Miller now is tied for the league lead in saves with 10, two of which he got this weekend at Fenway, with a whopping 23 strikeouts in 13 innings of work. The Red Sox are the team that moved Miller to the bullpen, which he became successful in doing after some struggling years as a starter. Why shouldn’t they be reaping the rewards with a decision they made? Instead he is on the team you hate to lose to and collecting up saves and strikeouts left and right.

First Hot Stove Item on The Menu is Chili

Chili Davis

With the cold temperatures upon us this week, the Red Sox fired up the Hot Stove with chili as the main course. Chili Davis, Oakland’s hitting coach the last three seasons, has been hired to the same position by the Boston Red Sox.

Former Red Sox players Bill Mueller and Rich Gedman had also been rumored to be in the running, but the 56 year old Davis, whose career spanned most of the 80’s and 90’s, and who retired with a .274 lifetime average, ended up getting the nod.

Davis is no stranger to the Boston organization; in 2011 he served as the hitting coach for the Pawtucket Red Sox. Although that squad had the third most runs scored in the league, they were second to last in hits and average.

In Oakland, with Davis instructing the hitters, the A’s finished third in the AL in runs scored with 729 after having led the majors for most of the 2014 season prior to slumping in August and September.

Davis replaces Greg Colbrunn, who resigned at the end of the season. Colbrunn had just completed his second season as the Sox hitting instructor, but was dealing with serious health issues after suffering a brain hemorrhage in June.

One of Davis’ priorities will be to see the Red Sox increase their team batting average from the lowly .244 this past season to the lofty .272 number they averaged from 2011-13.