The Red Sox have struggled in the postseason in the past, but will it translate this season?
In the past 2 years, the Boston Red Sox have had strong regular seasons but have been swiftly, and quite easily, eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. One concern I’ve had in the back my mind during the legendary highs of this season has been whether or not we could perform like this in the playoffs.
Now that Boston has cooled down, and finally looks beatable, this may be a concern many of you have as well. As such, I’m going to evaluate Boston’s performances this season against AL playoff contenders, and hopefully this can give us an indication of how the Red Sox will play against quality opponents in the postseason.
New York Yankees
Head-to-head record: 8-5, 6 games remaining
Let’s start with Boston’s most likely opponent in the divisional round: the New York Yankees. In an ordinary year, the Yanks would be a top-notch team and likely the AL East winner. However, this year’s Sox team has just been on another level. As such, the Bronx Bombers are likely to get a wildcard spot and should be favoured to move on. In terms of the head-to-head series this season, the Red Sox have the advantage. We all remember that glorious 4 game sweep at Fenway. With 6 games left to play, we will be able to say with more certainty who has the advantage going into the postseason.
Head-to-head record: 2-4, 0 games remaining
The A’s seemingly have Boston’s number this year. Albeit, all the games were played in the early part of the season, so the head-to-head record may be a little outdated. Nonetheless, the Red Sox have struggled against the Athletics in 2018. Perhaps we should be cheering for New York to win the wildcard game? Yuck.
Head-to-head record: 2-2, 3 games remaining
Having only played 4 games, not much has separated the Red Sox and the Indians. While the record is tied, it may be useful to note that the Red Sox have won their games 7-0 and 10-4, while losing their games 6-3 and 5-4. This is more impressive; however, it is worrying that all 4 games have been played at Fenway. The last series of the season in Cleveland should help give an indication of who would have the upper-hand in October. Let’s just hope we don’t get a repeat of 2016 where Boston’s team of destiny was squashed by the Indians.
Head-to-head record: 3-4, 0 games remaining
The Astros have a slight advantage over the Red Sox in the 2018 season; however, it should be noted that 4 of those games were played in Houston. Moreover, Chris Sale was not featured in the most recent series. These two teams are likely to be the favourites to win the AL, so this matchup could be the one we see in the ALCS. The defending champs are a very good ball team and Boston would have to be better against them if they want to reach the World Series.
What Does it all Mean?
Truthfully, there is not a large enough sample size to assign too much value in the head-to-head records (although, that may not be the case after a full 19 games against the Yankees). What is concerning, however, is the fact that Boston seems to struggle against quality opposition. In the 30 games that have been played against these teams, the Red Sox hold a 15-15 record. That would be good for any other team, but for a team of this caliber (a “historic” team looking for a World Series ring) it’s not ideal. It suggests to me that every series in the AL will be a close toss-up, and whoever is riding the hot hand may just pull through. Given how the last 2 seasons have ended, this makes me nervous.
On the bright side, the Red Sox have a 15-15 record against the (likely) other AL playoff teams. This is certainly a glass half-empty vs. glass half-full situation. Personally, I’ve always responded to that question with “it depends, am I drinking the glass or filling it up?” Since we can’t do anything but wait for these potential playoff games to be played, let’s just all hope the Boston Red Sox are filing the glass up.