The MLB postseason continues on Wednesday night with the National League Wild Card Game (8 p.m. ET on TBS). I've been doing a dossier of every team in the playoffs. Let's check out the Boston Red Sox, who take on the Houston Astros starting Thursday (4 p.m. ET, MLB Network).
Team: Boston Red Sox
Finished the regular season as: 2017 American League East champs
Last postseason appearance: 2016 ALDS (lost to Cleveland)
Last World Series appearance: 2013
Last World Series title: 2013
Top 10 players, 2017 season
- Chris Sale, (17-8, 2.90 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 308 SO, 7.7 fWAR)
- Mookie Betts, (.264/.344/.459, 24 HR, 102 RBI, 26 SB, 101 runs, 5.3 fWAR)
- Craig Kimbrel, (5-0, 1.43 ERA, 0.68 WHIP, 35 SV, 126 SO, 3.3 fWAR)
- Xander Bogaerts, (.273/.343/.403, 10 HR, 62 RBI, 94 runs, 3.2 fWAR)
- Drew Pomeranz, (17-6, 3.32, 1.35 WHIP, 174 SO, 3.1 fWAR)
- Jackie Bradley Jr., (.245/.323/.402, 17 HR, 63 RBI, 58 runs, 9 DRS, 2.3 fWAR)
- Andrew Benintendi, (.271/.352/.424, 20 HR, 90 RBI, 84 runs, 20 SB, 2.2 fWAR)
- Eduardo Rodriguez, (6-7, 4.19 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 150 SO, 2.1 fWAR)
- Rick Porcello, (11-17, 4.65 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 181 SO, 2.0 fWAR)
- Dustin Pedroia, (.293/.369/.392, 406 AB, 7 HR, 62 RBI, 46 runs, 1.9 fWAR)
Quality of clinching celebration: Late. The Yankees made the Red Sox sweat a little bit, but Boston was the last team to clinch its division with a handy 6-3 win over ALDS opponent Houston last Saturday.
Season recap: It feels more dramatic than it actually was, doesn't it? The Red Sox were out of first place for four days in late July, but otherwise held the top spot every day after June 23. The Sox were expected to be excellent this year, and they were excellent. What was everyone so freaked out about?
Probable playoff lineup:
SS Xander Bogaerts
2B Dustin Pedroia
LF Andrew Benintendi
RF Mookie Betts
1B Mitch Moreland
DH Hanley Ramirez
3B Rafael Devers
C Christian Vazquez
CF Jackie Bradley Jr.
Depending on who's pitching, you could see Rajai Davis in there, and maybe some Sandy Leon, and maybe even some Chris Young, but mostly, this is the lineup. Though let's see how healthy Eduardo Nunez is.
Probable playoff rotation
ALDS Game 1: Chris Sale
ALDS Game 2: Drew Pomeranz
ALDS Game 3: Eduardo Rodriguez
ALDS Game 4: Rick Porcello
The Red Sox have a lot of options, none of them great, but none of them terrible either.
- Lineup. That top four is as scary as you'll find in the game. If you can get Ramirez and Devers hot at the right time, look out.
- Defense. Particularly in the outfield. They're playing in some strangely-shaped outfields in the ALDS, but every step counts.
- Sale. He has been the best pitcher in baseball this year, and they get to pitch him in 40 percent of the games in this series if they have to.
- Rotation behind Sale. None of those guys are bad pitchers, but there's no one you are confident you're getting a shutdown night from any of them. That was supposed to be David Price's job. Speaking of which …
- Is Price Andrew Miller? That would make him an awfully expensive version of that, but if he can pull it off, that could change a lot of games. But his postseason history obviously does not inspire a ton of confidence. (Even though he had been terrific in relief late in the season.)
- That Houston offense. The problem with the rotation isn't that the Red Sox don't have talent. They just have exactly the type of staff that the Astros can knock around. The Red Sox offense will have to keep pace.
Best-case scenario: Sale is untouchable, the veterans in the lineup get hot and a couple of backend rotation guys step up.
Worst-case scenario: Sale is great, but the bullpen blows a lead and the rotation falters in the others.
Ramifications of a World Series title: You'd have to hear from Boston even more than you already do.
Status: They have a fascinating ALDS matchup with a team that shares a lot of similarities with them. This year has felt a little off from the beginning, but none of that means anything now.
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