Today is finally the day every Sox fan has been waiting for. Finally after a long Winter and crazy offseason the Boston Red Sox are back playing in Fenway Park. An offseason headlined by the retirement of David Ortiz and addition of Chris Sale leaves fans with high expectations for this upcoming season. Here are my predictions for the team, hours before the season officially gets underway.
Lets start with pitching. Brace yourself Red Sox fans, this rotation may not be as good as you hope. David Price will start the season on the DL and may finish it the same way. An arm issue that “may require” Tommy John simply does not just go away. Price will not be 100% healthy at any point during the year and the constant excuses does not give me any extra faith in him. Chris Sale on the other hand is healthy and ready to start on a competitive team. Theres nothing I love more than an emotional mad man on the mound, especially one who is a constant Cy Young candidate. Punching yourself in the head with a baseball after forgetting to cover first in a spring training game is the type of crazy I love in a pitcher. However, Boston fans need to settle their expectations. Sale is still a lefty pitching in a ballpark which favors right-handed hitters. He will still dominate, but do not expect a remarkable home record. Rick Porcello should continue to follow up on his previous Cy Young award season. Then there is the rest. Pomeranz, Wright and Rodriguez all share similar situations. Pitchers who at times have been great, all with nagging injuries. If they can stay healthy, Boston’s pitching will be in good shape.
Now we have the lineup. If all goes according to plan, even with the loss of Ortiz this lineup can easily be one of the best in the bigs. With Mookie Hanley and Xander being the big bats in the lineup, the lineup already seems potent. Pedroia will now be the unquestioned leader of the team and Benintendi will continue to improve as the year goes on. Sandoval looks like he wants to redeem himself after the last two years and newly acquired Mitch Moreland will fill in the lineup with a solid lefty bat. The lineup should be tops in the Major League.
The Red Sox have World Series potential, but also have potential to miss the playoffs if things fall apart similar to 2014. However there is a much better chance they end up in the playoffs. This division has gotten much weaker over the past couple years. The Jays are now without their power core in Edwin Encarnacion and face questions on whether their pitching can stay dominant. The Orioles may be the Red Sox biggest competition. They still have their power bats in their lineup, but how successful can your power be when you don’t have many guys who can get on base? The Yankees and Rays are still in rebuilding mode and should not really be a big push for the division.
So now the Sox win the division, but how far can they get from there? Well it depends who they play. Their pitching can match up with pretty much any team in the league if healthy, and it is tough to see their lineup struggling in back-to-back playoffs. Their kryptonite however, is the same team that knocked them out last year. The Cleveland Indians have more solid pitching and their lineup is just as scary. If Boston faces Cleveland, they will not get past them. If they don’t, Boston has the ability to get past anyone in the A.L. So final prediction? The Sox will win the division easily, and will get to the World Series. Unless they face Cleveland.