Red Sox Preview 9/24-9/26

Season Series So Far:
The Yankees lead the Red Sox this season 7-5, but they still have six more games to go against their bitter rival.  As always, we can expect some lengthy, high scoring games (they have only played two games this season where their combined score was under seven) as these teams are likely to slug it out perhaps even more as Boston watches their playoff hopes slip away from them.  The Red Sox have been decimated by injuries this season, however, they have managed to play better than most expected despite the relatively inexperienced team they have fielded at times.

Pitching:
While the Red Sox had put an emphasis on their pitching in recent years, it has proven to be disappointing this season.  They have a team ERA of 4.18 and FIP of 4.03.  Josh Beckett has struggled mightily and spent a significant amount of time on the DL.  On the other hand, he seems to have put together a decent September, which could prove to be problematic for the Yankees’ offense.  Jon Lester has been superb this season, but Daisuke Matsuzaka continues to disappoint.

The Red Sox bullpen has been particularly disappointing, as they have a collective ERA of 4.23 and FIP of 4.56.  Jonathan Papelbon is no longer the feared closer he was a few years ago.  He has an ERA of 3.86 and has blown seven saves this season.  Papelbon has put together plenty of strong outings this season, but when he’s struggled he has fallen apart rather quickly.  Daniel Bard has been the best arm out of the bullpen for Boston.  He’s pitched just over 70 innings this season and has an ERA of 1.79.  He has held opposing hitters to a .175 average this season, unlike Hideki Okajima who has been hit hard, for a .315 average.

Offense:
With Dustin Pedroia, Mike Cameron and Kevin Youkilis out for the season, the Red Sox lineup is less formidable than it has been.  Despite those injuries, the Red Sox still have some impressive offensive numbers.  They are second only to the Yankees in team wOBA (.344) and are third in the AL in OBP (.338).

Adrian Beltre has had a great year, hitting .324/.370/.563/.933 with a wOBA of .396.  His 28 homeruns are second on the team to David Ortiz, who has rebounded from his early season slump to knock 31 homers and hit .261.  Victor Martinez has also been a strong bat for Boston, hitting .299/.347/.489/.836 with a wOBA of .360.

Unlike the Rays, the Red Sox are not much of a threat on the bases.  With Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury out for the season, the team leader in stolen bases in Darnell McDonald, who has nine.  The only team in the American League with less stolen bases is the Blue Jays.

Defense:
The Red Sox defense has been mediocre as well, rating just below the Yankees in UZR (6.5) and UZR/150 (0.7). The Red Sox have also allowed the most stolen bases in Major League Baseball.  Giving up 306 bases while the Yankees have allowed the fourth most at 240.  They have also turned less double plays than every team in the AL except the Angels.

Injuries:
Red Sox: Injuries have plagued the Red Sox all season long.  At this point, they have lost Mike Cameron, Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and Junichi Tazawa for the rest of the season.

New York: Andy Pettitte is back and Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner appear to be working past their recent injuries.  Mark Teixeira continues to play despite a broken toe and some other bruises.  Unfortunately, it looks like his play is hurting, as his offensive production has been minimal at best lately.  David Robertson has also been battling back spasms this past week, taking a reliable arm out of the bullpen.  Robertson is listed as day-to-day and will hopefully be back soon.

Things To Watch:

  • The Yankees have battered Josh Beckett this season, but he has put together a decent September and appears to be past his injuries from earlier this season.  It will be interesting to see if he can turn around his luck against New York tonight.
  • If the Yankees win the first two games to secure a playoff spot, what will their lineup look like for the final game?  B squad?  C squad?
  • Andy Pettitte had a good return to the mound in his first game back, I know I personally will feel a lot better about the end of the season and the playoffs if he puts together another nice start.

Tamar has written for IIATMS since July 2009, having started off writing game recaps before shifting to the minor leagues. Born in Connecticut and having lived all over the country and in South Korea, Tamar now finds herself "temporarily misplaced" in New Hampshire. Please send help.