Saturday, June 22, 2024

Where There's a Wilyer..


In a season where the Braves conned them out of their ace before he pitched his best season in years, the star shortstop got injured immediately yet again, the pitching breakout of 2023 backtracked and the finally-MLB-competent 1st baseman got hurt after a month and a half, it's wild to me that the Red Sox are still 5 games over .500. You batter these guys, rip them off, throw them around, and they still come back and beat you.

It's outstanding how competent this core is now. Definitive answers have formed in all three outfield spots, catcher, shortstop and possibly 2nd base, and the makeshifts at 1st and right are still extremely competent. David Hamilton, Ceddanne Rafaela, Connor Wong and Jarren Duran are all looking like they could be sticking around a while at these positions in Boston. Wilyer Abreu might be the biggest surprise, he's turned into a really nice outfield bat, hitting .272 with 22 RBIs and 6 homers. He's been hurt for a lot of June but he should be back this week. You're also seeing viable replacement options in Enmanuel Valdez and Dominic Smith, in addition to the continued power presence of Rafael Devers. This lineup has really come together, and if a few more things get ironed out, and the injured guys are all ready next year, this lineup could compete.

Even more excitingly, the rotation combo of Tanner Houck, Kutter Crawford, Nick Pivetta and Brayan Bello is still really working out. Houck's having his best season to date, Crawford's building on a great 2023, Pivetta's improved after struggling last year, Bello's been shaky but still 7-4, and while Cooper Criswell was a decent fifth man, the Sox may have something else up their sleeve [what it is I'm not entirely sure looking at their Worcester options]. That elusive fifth man, which would have been Lucas Giolito or Garrett Whitlock had the injuries not struck, is keeping them from being elite but not completely holding them back from being good.

And that's really the thing with the Sox: they're flirting with being a great team. This past week they've looked ferocious against both the Yankees and Phillies, have fared extremely well against division rivals the Blue Jays and Rays, and are capable of winning big games by long margins. Only issue is that they're prone to get beaten almost as much as they beat others. They won big against the White Sox a couple weeks back, then the White Sox took two from them. The Orioles in particular have had no trouble with this team. They're still too inconsistent to really be seen as a league power, even if they've definitely come into their own.

I think the next month or so will be a good indicator of the Sox' stamina going forward. If they even out and prove they can compete, they could be a sleeper hit this fall.

Coming Tonight: It took him a little longer than the fans would have hoped, but this guy managed to find his swing eventually in a new uniform. 

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