A get right trip to Kansas City now means that the Red Sox are on a run of four straight wins, putting them just 6.5 games behind the Yankees. They now return home for another tough week against some talented teams. The second-placed Tampa Bay Rays are first up this weekend. This weekend is a crowded one, with a double-header on Saturday, and a matchup with Blake Snell on Sunday.
6/8 TBD vs. TBD 6:10 pm NESN
The Rays rotation is so tough to analyze because it is an ever-changing beast. That is further complicated by both teams not knowing who will pitch in the second half of the doubleheader on Saturday. The one sure-fire starter is Blake Snell, who has a 3.66 ERA this season. However, 16 of his 27 earned runs have been given up on the road. Those road starts have been mixed, as he has shut down the Yankees in New York, but was then shelled by both the Royals and Tigers. In fact, 13 of those 16 road earned runs came in those two starts. It will be interesting to see which version of “Road Snell” Boston see this weekend.
As for the other two starters, they are Yonny Chirinos and Ryan Yarbrough. Both of those pitchers have been used in interesting ways this season. Chirinos has started in 6-of-12 outings this season, and Yabrough in just 2-of-8. Chirinos has had success in both roles, with a 2.78 ERA as a starter and a 3.91 ERA as a reliever. On the other hand, Yarbrough has a 5.65 ERA as a starter and 6.64 as a reliever. Additionally, Yarbough allowed three earned in three innings last time against Boston.
For the three Red Sox starters we know will take the mound, home is where the heart is this season. All three have better ERAs in Fenway Park than on the road. Price leads the pack with a 0.95 home ERA and a 0.75 WHIP. Porcello’s ERA sits at 3.52 with a 1.23 WHIP, and Rodriguez has a 3.56 ERA with a 1.09 WHIP. Let’s hope for another strong set of performances from these pitchers this weekend.
On the hitting side, things have been a little more mixed for the Red Sox hitters. The Red Sox average 1.38 HR per game at home, as opposed to 1.47 on the road. However, the Red Sox hit for a superior batting average and slugging percentage at home than on the road. Additionally, the Red Sox offense is heating up. In 30 games in March/April they hit 32 home runs, but hit 51 in May. Their batting average has jumped from .239 in those opening months, to .278 in May, and is at .298 for June so far. It will be hard to increase the overall trend much further, but continuing into a strong summer is much needed for this team.
The Rays have been remarkably consistent this season so far. They hit 35 home runs in March/April and 36 in May. Interestingly they had 12 triples in the first month and just one in May. To start June they have seven home runs with a .270 batting average. The Red Sox will be hoping to slow that down this weekend.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Pitching: The fourth pitcher this weekend will be very interesting. With the way Nathan Eovaldi opened the season, there is a potential spot up for grabs even after his return. Right now the four of Price, Porcello, Rodriguez and Chris Sale looks set. However, a strong performance this weekend could give a pitcher a shot of spending more time in the rotation as the year progresses.
Hitting: In the first five games of June the Red Sox have hit six home runs. Eduardo Nunez, J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers, and Mookie Betts all have one each, with two for Xander Bogaerts. Any creeping concerns about Andrew Benintendi were put to bed with a four home runs, five steal May. However, after hitting just .259, the Red Sox will be hoping he can get his June kick-started in this series.
The last week essentially describes the Red Sox season. For the first few days, it was doom-and-gloom, losing the last two to the Indians and the first two to the Yankees. Then things turned around with a four-straight win -streak. Now the Red Sox have a chance to build momentum and potentially move into second place in the division this week.
A four-game home series against the Rays offers an opportunity for the Red Sox. Get this right and there is a chance they could be breathing down the neck of the Yankees, within five games and ready to strike. However, make a mess and they could lose ground on both rivals and be facing a 10-game deficit to the dreaded Yankees. With the Rangers and Orioles next up, the Red Sox have a real chance to reel off a strong run of results and put themselves right back in the division hunt.