With about three and a half weeks to go before the Red Sox play their first post-season game I thought I would write about how things are shaping up for them and the other contenders in the American League.

I think we all agree that without a healthy Chris Sale the Sox would be in deep trouble and may not even win their first series. That series will most likely be against the Yankees or Oakland A’s. All indications are that Sale is healthy and will be the starting pitcher in the first game against the Blue Jays tonight.

Even with Sale healthy and pitching well it won’t be easy for the Red Sox. Now that Houston is healthy and blessed with a very good starting rotation and a formidable bullpen, the Sox will have to win their first two home games at Fenway to get the edge. The same is true for the Cleveland Indians. They play the Sox very tough and their pitching, although not as good overall as Houston’s staff, can be very tough on the Red Sox. Lindor and Ramirez each have well over thirty home runs and Encarnacion hits the Sox very well. They’re a scrappy team but they may not have enough pitching to beat the Sox in a seven game series.

Oakland seems to be a scrappy team as well and they played the Red Sox very tough in the regular season. They have power in Kris Davis with over 40 home runs and former Red Sox Jeb Lowrie is having a very good year. Their lineup is very balanced and they can run. They’re having some problems with their pitching staff as left handed Sean Manaea, of no-hit fame against the Red Sox, is on the disabled list. However their closer Blake Treinen has close to forty saves and is unhittable at times. They have a much improved bullpen since acquiring Rodney and Coulombe.

If the Yankees win the wild card game, what can you say. Anytime they play each other whether during the regular season or the post season it’s like the seventh game of the World Series. Sanchez is back as well as their outstanding shortstop Didi Gregorius. They’ll have to win with their bats, though, since their pitching hasn’t seen much improvement with the exception of J.A. Happ acquired from Toronto. I don’t see them beating the Red Sox in a five game series.

Overall, there’s still three weeks to go and anything can happen. In order for the Red Sox to get to and win another World Series their bullpen has to pitch well throughout the post-season. Alex Cora will have to utilize the pen so that the right matchups are made at the right time. Barnes and Hembree must be exceptional and Kimbrel perfect. Can they go all the way? Yes they can. After the spectacular regular season they’ve had nothing less than World Champs will be acceptable to Red Sox Nation.

-Rico

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