The next 15 games can make me a believer on the 2018 team. So far, I am impressed, but the real competition is ahead.
In the great scheme of baseball, it is far better to have a winning than a losing record and the Red Sox certainly have a winning record. That, however, does not exude a waterfall of confidence from me, nor should it from Red Sox fans. Beating up on Tampa and Miami is far from a true test of capabilities.
The pitching has been magnificent. Opening day in Tampa was an exception as I saw a bullpen meltdown of epic proportions. I had a flashback of Heathcliff Slocumb taking the hill and not the solid crew one expects. That has been rectified as we sift through the early schedule. The starting pitching appears healthy and capable and just maybe a three-way race for being the ace will happen.
Run production apparently picked up where it ended in 2017 – disappointing, but the early going that is no surprise. I fully expect the addition of J.D. Martinez to rectify offensive shortcomings. They’ll produce runs and they will most certainly have pitching, but, hey – let’s wait until we play the big boys and not 4A competition.
I will be an early skeptic until an upcoming frigid three-game set against the New York Yankees is complete. And while I am in a “Debbie Downer” mood let’s wait until the first west coast trip is done with. The LAA ballclub has really stocked up in the off-season and I am not ready to dismiss Oakland – the west has been traditionally tough for the Red Sox. I will also not discount a three-game visit to Toronto before they Sox return home.
The good news is the schedule has a built-in comfort zone between New York and LA and that is a visit to Boston by the Orioles. The O’s, however, can’t be brushed aside after winning the season series in 2017. So, the next 15 games will give – from my perspective – a far better insight into just how the 2018 Red Sox will be.
Last season the Red Sox were an excellent road team going 45-36. Of statistical note is the 2017 collection produced 398 runs on the road and 387 at home. Unusual? For a Red Sox team, it is with the last such occurrence being 2013. What it does show is this is a team built for baseball and not just Fenway Park baseball.
The 15 games are a benchmark for me. A winning record would get the Fellowship of the Miserable portion of my brain in slumber. If this team starts to have the hitting as expected and the rotation continues to spin gems and nullify opposition bats, then I’ll have to push someone off the bandwagon.
I am impressed by this team especially David Price and Rick Porcello. The early stages seem to point to Price being what all expected and Porcello putting a dreadful 2017 in the rear-view mirror, but to win this team must produce against the best. Eventually, the roadway to the World Series will go through New York, Houston, Los Angeles and a few others. Those are the teams that will tell us if we are witnessing the real deal or an illusion.