I’ve spent around three months telling myself that no matter how the Boston Red Sox do, they’re a step behind the top dogs in the American League. However that stance has changed over the past few weeks.

Not only are they among the “top dogs,” but they’re the top dog.

We’ve started the “second half” and the Redsox are on pace to have the fourth best single-season record in MLB history with 112 wins. Their worst month was May where they finished 18-11.

Now, they’re 5 games up on the Yankees and are looking like the team to beat in the AL East.

The time is now.

The Trade Deadline is rapidly approaching and the front office is a potential move, or two, away from putting themselves in prime position to win a World Series.

A major focus for Dave Dombrowski should be the back end of the bullpen. A potential trade target was removed by the Cleveland Indians acquiring Brad Hand from the Padres; however there are still two prominent names in Zach Britton and Kyle Barraclough. These names are intriguing because of the glaring need of a “bridge” or 8th inning guy to get to Craig Kimbrel. With a fully healthy, dominant piece like this, the Sox would have one of the better bullpens in all of baseball.

Britton, who hasn’t been great since coming back from his achillies injury is carrying a swinging strike rate of 14.5%. He would give Boston a desperately needed lefty to balance out the (already strong) ‘pen. Britton is also set to hit the open market in 2019 which would make Dan Duquette’s demand a bit less then Britton’s talent suggests.

Barraclough offers a much different dimension then Britton, but has proved to be equally as effective as guys are hitting just .124 off the right-hander. Barraclough also offers a long-term solution as a potential staple in that bullpen. His arbitration years kick in at the start of 2019 and he’s just 28 years of age.

A hint of concern is found in his decline in velocity over the past couple of years. His numbers counter that though as he’s been terrific and has cemented himself as one of the best relievers in baseball. If the Sox want to make a move for the Marlins’ closer, there is no doubt it will cost them a pretty penny. The Red Sox do have the prospect capital and it would be a move for the future.

By the time September and October roll around, each of these two can prove to be a massive difference maker if the Redsox can make a run at the pennant this fall.

Honorable Mentions: Raisel Iglesias and Joakim Soria