The Red Sox Battle For First Place In Tampa

The Red Sox will be in Tampa Bay for the next three days as they battle for first place with the Rays. Both teams are having a great 2021 season. Right now, the Rays are 0.5 games back of Boston, who took over first place in the American League East this past weekend. After three games, the standings may look a bit different. Either Boston will remain in first, or the Rays will reclaim the top shelf.

This will be a series to remember after Thursday’s game. The Rays top prospect, Wander Franco, will be making his Major League debut against the Red Sox on Tuesday night. His highly anticipated debut will come with a lot of pressure, as all eyes will be on him. The 20-year-old shortstop has been tearing it up in AAA Durham. He has a .315 average in 39 games with 7 homeruns. The Rays hope he can continue his success in the Major Leagues.

The Red Sox Battle For First Place Matchups

Eduardo Rodriguez will get the ball in game one for Boston against the Rays’ Andrew Kittredge. Rodriguez is 5-4 on the season with a 6.21 ERA in 13 games. Last time out for E-Rod was a no decision in Atlanta. He went 4 innings, giving up 6 hits and 4 runs, while striking out 8. Kittredge is 5-1 with a 1.34 in 2021. He got the no decision his last time out vs Seattle, only going 1.1 innings, and had one strikeout.

Wednesday’s game will feature Garrett Richards vs Rich Hill. Richards is 4-4 with a 4.36 ERA this season. His last start came against Atlanta, where he went 4 innings, giving up 7 hits and 4 runs while striking out 3. Former Red Sox pitcher Rich Hill will be going in game 2 for Tampa. He’s 5-2 with a 3.64 ERA this season. He went 5 innings in his last game vs Seattle, where he allowed 6 hits, 4 runs and had 5 strikeouts.

Thursday’s final game will have Nick Pivetta for Boston. Tampa Bay has yet to name a starter for the game. Pivetta is currently 6-3 with a 4.36 ERA. He took the loss against Kansas City on June 18th. He went 5 innings, allowing 6 hits, and three runs while striking out 6 batters.

Players To Watch In The Series

While the world will have their eyes on Wander Franco, there are some other players to take note of in this series. Tampa Bay third baseman, Joey Wendle, has been doing great so far this season. The 31-year-old leads the team in five categories, including batting average and doubles. Currently, he has a .292 average, with 19 doubles on the season. He also has a slugging percentage of .491 and an on base percentage of .841. Even though he has 5 stolen bases on the season, he also has been caught 5 times, which leads the team. All in all, Wendle might be the difference maker for Tampa as they battle for first place.

Another player to take note of in the series is Red Sox starter, Nick Pivetta. In 14 games this season, he is 6-3 with a 4.36 ERA and has 86 strikeouts. The 28-year-old starter has the most strikeouts on the team, and batters are hitting .231 against him, which is the lowest of all the Red Sox pitchers. Pivetta started the season by winning six games in ten starts before getting the loss in June vs the Astros. Pivetta looks to get his first win of June against Tampa on Thursday.

All Star Game Update

Voting for the 2021 All Star Game concludes on Thursday. Right now, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and JD Martinez are slated to represent the Red Sox in Colorado on July 13th. Both Devers and Bogaerts are leading in their categories, while Martinez is in second place, behind Angels designated hitter, Shohei Ohtani. Alex Verdugo is currently in eighth place in the All Star Game voting, behind Mike Trout, Aaron Judge and Byron Buxton. This will be Devers’ first All Star game, while Bogaerts will be making his third appearance, and Martinez will be making his fourth.

This looks to be an interesting All Star game for sure, as two former Colorado Rockies players may be on the roster. DJ LeMehieu is in third place to play second base in the American League. LeMehieu played for Colorado from 2012 to 2018 before signing with the Yankees prior to the 2019 season. Former Rockies star, Nolan Arenado, is in second place for the National League third basemen behind Kris Bryant of the Cubs. Arenado is in his first season with the Cardinals after being traded this past offseason. Arenado was drafted by Colorado, and was their third baseman from 2013 to 2020. His cousin, Joshua Fuentes is the current third baseman for the Rockies.

How Does The AL East Look One Month In?

As the first month of the 2021 MLB campaign comes to a close, the American League East Division looks a lot different than many people expected. Coming as a very pleasant surprise, Boston currently sits in first place. The defending American League champion Tampa Bay Rays sit at last. The Toronto Blue Jays are in second and the Baltimore Orioles are in third. The biggest shock so far is the New York Yankees being towards the bottom in fourth place.

Fifth Place: Tampa Bay Rays

2021 al east

Tampa Bay appears to be experiencing a World Series hangover, which is the term for a team who struggles the season following an appearance in the fall classic. The Rays’ bats have been silent so far, as they rank 23rd statistically from the plate. Fortunately for Tampa Bay, they have arguably the best pitching staff, both in the starting rotation and bullpen.

Fourth Place: New York Yankees

The Yankees’ struggles have been one of the biggest surprises from this season so far. With a lineup including Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, it is hard to believe that New York would be ranked 19th offensively in the MLB. Their pitching staff, which includes Gerrit Cole, Corey Kluber, and Aroldis Chapman, has been a lot more solid. The Yankees pitching staff is ranked fifth in the MLB.

Third Place: Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles have done a decent job of keeping pace with the division so far this season. They currently sit at about a .500 record, which is an improvement from the way the O’s have started the season in the past few years. Baltimore’s pitching staff is nothing too special, but they have been able to get the job done on a somewhat consistent basis so far in 2021. The Orioles have not found their groove yet offensively, but there is still a lot of baseball left to play.

Second Place: Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto appears to have finally gotten their franchise back on track. They have been one of the better offensive teams so far, being led by Vlad Guerrero Jr and Bo Bichette. The Blue Jays have been throwing heat so far this season, with a team ERA of 3.47 and 214 strikeouts.

First Place: Boston Red Sox

AL East 2021

The most pleasant surprise of this season so far is the success acheived by our beloved Red Sox. Boston’s pitching has come a very long way from where it was last season. Nathan Eovaldi and Nick Pivetta have both been lights out from the mound, and it is starting to rub off on the rest of the staff. The Red Sox have been on fire from the plate, as they have recorded the most hits by any club so far this year. J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers, and Xander Bogaerts have led the way offinsively, hitting .361, .292, and .333 respectively.

Is Boston In A Position To Make A Miracle Run?

The Red Sox have a fire in their eyes this season that we have not seen since 2018. These guys are playing great baseball and having a lot of fun doing it. The team chemistry is definently there, as well as the talent. A deep playoff run or even a World Series appearance is definently possible, but we do not want to get to far ahead of ourselves just yet.

AL East 2021 Preview

Every year, the American League East stands as one of the most competitive divisions the the MLB. This year will be no exception. The defending American League champion Tampa Bay Rays will be out for redemption and the perennial powerhouse New York Yankees have a talent-packed roster that is built to destroy. The Toronto Blue Jays are looking to have a breakout year after standing at the bottom of the division for the past few seasons. Boston desperately wants to get the bad taste of last season out of their mouth by having a solid 2021 campaign. Unfortunately for the Baltimore Orioles, it looks like they probably will be bringing up the back once again in the AL East 2021.

AL East

Fifth Place: Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore is not expected to be a threat this year due to a young, inexperienced roster. In 2020, Baltimore had a team ERA of 4.51 and a team batting average of .258. The combination of low offensive production and being non-efficient from the mound is a recipe for a lot of losses.

Fourth Place: Boston Res Sox

Boston was not impressive at all last season. They did a decent job at the plate, but the stumbling block for them was pitching. The team ERA last year was 5.58. Both the starting rotation and bullpen never could seem to find any momentum. Combine the inexperience with being plagued by injuries and you find yourself giving up a lot of runs.

Third Place: Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto did a decent job last season despite finishing eight games out of first place. Being led by stars like Vladimir Gurerro JR, Cavan Biggio, and Randal Grichuk, the Blue Jays did a great job at the plate. Hyun-Jin Ryu did a great job leading the starting rotation last season with an ERA of 2.69. 2021 may finally be the year for the team from the Great White North.

Second Place: Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay was fantastic in 2020. It was definently their pitching staff that led them to the World Series, with a team ERA of 3.56. The Rays struggled offensively, only hitting .262 as a team. The departure of Blake Snell will leave a huge void in the rotation. The World Series hangover may also have an effect on their performance in 2021.

First Place: New York Yankees

New York’s pitching staff was amazing last season. Gerrit Cole led the way with 7 wins, an ERA of 2.84, and 94 strikeouts. The Yankees also had no shortage of firepower from the plate, with a slugging percentage of .447 and 94 homeruns. All of the Yankees key pieces will be back in 2021, and they will be looking to redeem themselves afer last years divisional round loss.

Next Up For The Red Sox – The American League East Leading Rays

After facing three out of the four American League East teams this past week, The Red Sox turn to face the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays, who have been red hot since the beginning of the season, are currently 13-4. They also hold a 5.5 game lead over the second place New York Yankees.

Over the past few seasons, the Tampa Bay Rays have given the Red Sox headaches.american league east They have also proven to be a competitive team in the American League East. They have reached the playoffs in 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2013. Only once did they make it to the World Series. That was in 2008, when they lost to the Philadelphia Phillies in five games.

Last season, the Rays went 90-72, landing in third place behind the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. That team, which saw Blake Snell win his first Cy Young Award, did a lot this past offseason. This led to some believing that they may be in rebuilding mode, especially after they traded hurler Chris Archer at the 2018 trade deadline.

Before I go any further, let’s take a look back at the last three series.

Coming Home to The Toronto Blue Jays

After a long road trip on the West Coast, the Red Sox headed back to Fenway Park. There, they faced the Toronto Blue Jays for a mini two-game series.

Game One saw the World Series Champions get their rings and raise the banner. Although it started off as a magical day for the players and fans alike, it did end in a loss to the Jays. The starter Chris Sale, went four innings, giving up five runs. On the positive side, Mitch Moreland and Mookie Betts homered in the game. Final score: 7-5.

Game Two, and the final game of the series saw the Red Sox win in walk off fashion. After starter Nathan Eovaldi gave up five runs in the third, the Red Sox powered back to win the game. After a walk to Betts, Moreland hit a run scoring double to tie the game. From there,  Moreland was replaced by Eduardo Nunez, who stole third. Their closer, Ken Giles walked both JD Martinez and Xander Bogaerts next.

Then up came Rafael Devers. On a 2-1 count, Devers ripped a single to right field, which scored Nunez. This game ended with a score of 7-6, and had the Fenway crowd going wild. This moment, brought to us by some great hitting and a few walks, was a turning point for the Red Sox.

Patriots Day and The Baltimore Orioles

After splitting the series against the Blue Jays, the Red Sox’s attention turned to the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles, who were playing a four-game set at Fenway, took two out of the four from the Red Sox.

The first game saw a mini win streak occur for the Red Sox. After a solid outing by Eduardo Rodriguez, who went 6.2 inning giving up two runs, the bullpen shut down the Orioles. The offense, led by Andrew Benintendi’s third inning home run, exploded, allowing Rodriguez and the pen to hold down the led. Final score: 6-4 Red Sox.

Game Two wasn’t so lucky for the Red Sox. The Saturday afternoon game ended the mini win streak. Rick Porcello, the 2016 Cy Young Award Winner, only lasted four innings, giving up three runs. Probably the most important thing to note about this game is that Orioles’ first baseman Chris Davis’ bat woke up. Davis, who had 62 plate appearances without a hit, decided to hit a two run single off of Porcello in the first inning. From there, the Orioles would go on to win the game. Final score: 9-5.

Game Three was a win for the Sox at Fenway Park. led by a stellar performance by David Price and Xander Bogaerts, the Red Sox blanked the Orioles. The final score: 4-0 Red Sox.

Game Four, which is the yearly Patriot’s Day game at Fenway Park, didn’t go so well. It found Chris Davis hitting his first home run of the season, and the bullpen being worked quite a bit. The only run scored by the Red Sox came in the fifth inning. Final score: 8-1 Orioles.

Back On The Road to Yankee Stadium

Back to the scene of the crime – The 2018 ALDS, which led the Red Sox to move onto the ALCS and the World Series, took place at Yankee Stadium. Fans can recall those last two games, the last one being the one that crushed the Yankees dreams of moving on. This game, however, was more of a nightmare than anything else. James Paxton, an offseason addition for the Yankees, allowed four hits over eight innings. Final score: 8-0 Yankees.

Game Two started off great for the Red Sox. A first inning solo shot for JD Martinez, and a two run home run for Christian Vazquez, put the Red Sox on top 3-0. Nathan Eovaldi, pitched 6 innings of great baseball, before the bullpen let the lead go. Final score: 5-3 Yankees.

Onto the Trop…

After the mini series in New York, the Red Sox will enjoy an off day on Thursday, before heading to Saint Petersburg, Florida to take on the Rays. After finding themselves near the bottom of the American League East, can the Red Sox play spoiler to the Rays? Let’s hope that they do. Eduardo Rodriguez, Rick Porcello and David Price look to have solid outings down at the Trop.

Martinez Versus Judge: Who Provides More Value?

Major League Baseball’s hottest debate heading into the 2019 season is the battle between Mookie Betts and Mike Trout for being the sport’s top dog. However, it would be hard to leave out two big names receiving a bit less flare in the media. J.D. Martinez and Aaron Judge, two of baseball’s biggest sluggers, deserve some love too. As so, we present Martinez versus Judge: Who Provides More Value?

By the Numbers- Measurements

By now you have heard that Aaron Judge is one of baseball’s biggest stars, but thatMartinez Versus Judge: Who Provides More Value? also applies in a literal sense. Judge is listed at 6’7″ and 282 lbs., a true mammoth in the sport. Martinez is no slouch, countering at 6’3″ and 220, but few players possess the shear mass of Judge. Advantage to the judge’s chambers on this one.

By the Numbers- Contracts

Aaron Judge is a bargain, as he has yet to make more than $650,000 in a season. Martinez is raking in an impressive $23.75 million per year, as he enters year two of his five-year, $110MM contract. Advantage to Judge, and especially the Yankees, at least until it’s time to pay the big man.

By the Numbers- Offense

In a side-by-side comparison, Martinez bested Judge in nearly every offensive category in the 2018 season. It is important to note that Judge was sidelined with a wrist injury that held him to 112 games. Even so, Judge only managed to surpass Martinez in walks (76 to J.D.’s 69). The Red Sox off-season splash put together a historic season for Boston that pushed him past the Yankee star in many statistics including batting average (.330 to .279), home runs (43 to 27), RBI (130 to 67), and OPS (1.031 to .919). Martinez’ 43 homers, in fact, were the most ever for a player in his first season in Boston.

Martinez takes the upper hand, but in a full season for Judge, we can expect closer results in 2019.

By the numbers- Defense

In this side of the Martinez versus Judge debate, Judge surely takes the cake. Martinez struggles in the outfield according to his defensive metrics on Fangraphs, with a Defensive UZR/150 of -4.6 for the 2018 season. That would place him towards the bottom of the list of qualifying outfielders from last season. Judge, on the other hand, posted a UZR/150 of 14.1, which would place him near the very top of the list of qualifiers. Defensive analytics are no perfect science, as it’s quite difficult to make easily decipherable numbers of defensive value. But in this instance, Judge is off the charts compared to Martinez.

By the numbers- Awards won

In fairness to Judge, who has only played full seasons in 2017-2018, we’ll consider hardware won the last two years. In 2018 alone, Martinez amassed an All-Star selection, 4th place in MVP voting, and a historic benchmark: two Silver Slugger awards, for both outfield and designated hitter, an unprecedented feat. Judge, meanwhile, collected AL Rookie of the Year in 2017, a Silver Slugger, has two All-Star selections, and finished second in MVP voting in 2017. Both have decorated their trophy cases, but there is one achievement that separates the pair, and that is Martinez’ 2018 World Series ring. We’ll give the slight edge to Martinez, but both are in great position to expand their winnings in 2019 as well. Provided both mashers can stay healthy in 2019, they should be the focal points of their offenses.

The Verdict

Judge’s ability on both sides of the ball, plus his pay rate, makes him more valuable going forward. Ultimately, Martinez Versus Judge is going to be a treat for us to watch in the battle for first place.

Can the 2019 Boston Red Sox Repeat as Champions?

The 2019 Major League Baseball regular season begins on March 28th with renewed hope, excitement, and expectations for the new season. There’s one club in particular that will be defending its World Series title with aspirations of repeating as champions. The last time any team repeated as champions was the 1998-2000 New York Yankees.

The Red Sox began Spring Training with key question marks surrounding the team in itsworld series champions quest to repeat as World Series Champions. This team certainly has the capability to pull off such a remarkable feat. However, the reality is that the 2019 Boston Red Sox  have concerns that will be a major factor in their ability (or lack thereof) to repeat as World Series Champions.

1. Red Sox Bullpen

Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski took a gamble at the July 31st trade deadline by not adding any high quality relievers to the bullpen. It paid off, thanks to key starting pitchers  David Price and Nathan Eovaldi who pitched out of the bullpen. However, the Red Sox lost two major pieces of the bullpen to free angency in closers Craig Kimbrel  and Joe Kelly. The Red Sox as of now are planning to potentially use relief pitcher Matt Barnes as an option to close the 9th inning for the Red Sox. It remains to be seen if the bullpen will be able to duplicate last October’s success for the 2019 season.

2. Red Sox Starting Rotation

The Red Sox starting rotation is  one of the best in Major League Baseball when fully healthy. In 2017 and 2018, Chris Sale’s performance dipped in the second half of both seasons. Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Nathan Eovaldi pitched a high amount of innings last season. All eyes will be on the rotation to watch for any potential dip in performance as a result of the heavy workload.

3. Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez

When the Red Sox signed free agent slugger J.D. Martinez in February 2018, no one could have predicted the full impact that Martinez would bring to the entire lineup. No hitter benefited more than Mookie Betts, who won the 2018 American League Most Valuable Player with a career season batting .346 with 32 HR and 80 RBIs. Martinez had a Triple Crown caliber season batting .330 with 43 HRs and 130 RBIs. It will be worth watching to see if both Betts and Martinez can continue their offensive success in 2019.

The sky is the limit for the 2019 Boston Red Sox. However, a lot will have to fall into place if the Red Sox are to successfully defend their World Series crown. It will be fascinating to watch this team beginning on Opening Day in Seattle, as the Red Sox seek to become the first to repeat as champions in nearly 20 years.