With just five more regular season games, the Red Sox are just three games up on the Yankees. They have some minor injuries with Betts and Binentendi, and Pedroia still has problems with his knee. Nonetheless, I’m sure all three will play. The most damaging injury is the one to Nunez. The Sox need his bat now and throughout the post season. Is there enough time for his knee to improve so that he can at least DH the rest of the way? There’s no doubt he’ll give it another try but what if he’s not productive or he twists his knee again? Will he be done for the year? Most likely.

Chris Sale has had his problems the second half of the season. He still gets his strikeouts but he’s also giving up a bunch of home runs. Why? His slider is flat and is hanging over the plate and his changeup is high in the zone and hittable. His fast ball is effective when it’s above the waist but hittable when down. Maybe he needs an extra day or two of rest before pitching in the post season. Will the powers-that-be give him that much needed rest? If the division race comes down to the last day he’ll have to pitch on Sunday.

I’m not as concerned about the starting pitchers as much, though, because most of the games will come down to the performance of the bullpens. Give us five or six good innings then hand it over to the relievers. It’s the name of the game now. The bullpen has been this team’s strength most of the year.

The one thing I am concerned about is the offense. We know they’re capable of scoring a lot of runs, home runs or no home runs. The problem has been the fact that they’re streaky and seem to all slump at the same time. During those times they miss the pitch they should hit and chase the bad ones. They also have trouble hitting breaking pitches.

The key for their offense is to get those first two hitters on base often so that their RBI guys can have a chance to drive them in. I’m not just talking about the first inning. I mean every inning by walks, hits, and anything else. As they say anything can happen in a short series. The playoffs are a whole new season. If the Sox can play loose and they can get to the bullpen with a lead they have as good a chance to get to the World Series as any other playoff team. I guess it won’t be long until we find out.

-Rico

Feature Photo Courtesy of Boston Globe

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