The Boston Red Sox and the San Diego Padres are both currently in the outer rung of their respective wild card races. The Sox are 6.5 games back from the last Wild Card spot, and have four teams in front of them. Their nearest competitor, the Blue Jays, are 2.5 games back, and in a better spot to wait for one of the AL West teams to drop. The Padres, meanwhile, are 7.5 games back from the last NL Wild Card spot, which is the same amount of games back the Washington Nationals are. The Padres have six teams in front of them, and are 4.5 games behind the nearest competitor, the Miami Marlins.
Either of these teams making the postseason, things as they are currently, is unlikely. But 'unlikely' and 'impossible' are not the same word.
The Red Sox, from almost the beginning of the season, have been the biggest spoiler in the AL. They weren't good enough to truly rock the AL East, but they had enough to really surprise some teams, and spend most of the year above .500. A lot of the slow roll of rookies the Sox have brought out in the last few years is paying off, as Brayan Bello, Kutter Crawford, Jarren Duran, Triston Casas, Connor Wong and Masataka Yoshida have all played big roles in this team's success. And now Ceddanne Rafaela, a 22-year-old SS/OF-type, is making waves 2 games into his career while Wilyer Abreu, conveniently on paternity leave, is hitting .353 with 5 games under his belt.
The rookie success is relieving because so many trusted veterans, like Chris Sale, Trevor Story, Bobby Dalbec, Corey Kluber and Garrett Whitlock, have let the team down this year. And if the young guys were gonna pick any season to start blooming, it might as well have been this one. Even if Crawford started the year in the bullpen, he's been excellent as a starter, with 6 wins and 84 Ks in 18 starts. Brayan Bello may be the true crowd-pleaser going forward, but Crawford seems like a durable workhorse. As Sale begins to wind the last curve of his contract next year, I see Bello and Crawford forming the foundation for a new intimidating rotation for future Sox teams.
As for the Padres, they fell way below expectations despite several of their stars, including Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, Juan Soto, Blake Snell and Ha-Seong Kim, having awesome seasons. It really amounts to a series of misguided decisions, like signing Nelson Cruz, Matt Carpenter and Rougned Odor at the start of the season, banking on Austin Nola as the starting catcher and Jake Cronenworth as the starting 1st baseman, building the team around a Joe Musgrove performance that wouldn't be healthy all year, and trading for Rich Hill, Garrett Cooper and Ji-Man Choi. Ultimately, a team weighed down this much by its own foibles couldn't stand a chance against the Dodgers, or even the Diamondbacks.
And it stinks because, as I said, so many of these guys actually played well this year. Michael Wacha has somehow figured things out after the Cardinals cut him loose a few years ago, got the gist of it midway through 2021 in Tampa, became great in Boston last year and now is back to where he was. I don't think the Padres figured they'd rely on veterans like Wacha and Snell as much as they have, but they've gotten strong seasons out of them both. Wacha's gone 10-2 with a 2.84 ERA and a 1.105 WHIP in 18 starts. He's just been a steady, reliable veteran force on this team. Maybe not as flashy as Darvish or Musgrove, but he's getting the job done.
And while the Sox are over .500 and have had some big wins this month, the Padres are 10 games below .500, and they've been struggling all August. This could have been an opportunity for them to build back momentum, and that just hasn't happened. Meanwhile, the six-man wild card race isn't getting any closer to them, and it's becoming clear that any attempt to avenge their 2022 NLCS loss won't come until, at least, next year.
If there's one thing I never would have thought I'd be saying this year, it's that the Red Sox have a better chance at the playoffs than the Padres. Yet here we are.
Coming Tomorrow- Just had the game of his life last night.