The Red Sox are nothing if not frustratingly consistent, even when playing a “home” game in a different country. The Red Sox form at home has been a consistent issue all season, as they currently have a 20-22 record in designated home games. In terms of true home games that is a 20-20 record, but .500 is not good enough at home. However, their road performances have been strong since a tough start, and now they get six road games to try and rebound from being swept by the Yankees in London.
In order to try and make a positive out of what happened with Rick Porcello in London at least, he is well-rested. Porcello allowed six runs in the first innings on Saturday, and did did not make it out of the first inning. However, he only threw 33 pitches, so will come into this game in a slightly different situation to what the Red Sox will have expected. A negative for Porcello is that he has a 5.17 ERA in 78 1/3 innings in Rogers Center. However, in his career he has been better in the second half of the season, starting with July, In June he has a career 5.06 ERA, but in July that drops by over a run to 3.97 in July. Let’s hope that trend continues in this series.
When the Blue Jays came to Fenway I raved about Thornton’s road ERA, and he caused the Red Sox problems. Now the tables are turned, as Thornton has real issues pitching in Toronto. In 31 innings at home, he has allowed 22 earned runs, nine home runs, and a .528 slugging percentage.
2019 has not been kind to Sean Reid-Foley. The 49th overall pick in 2014 has struggled both in the majors and at Triple-A. In two starts and one relief appearance in the majors, he has managed 9 1/3 innings, allowing five earned runs, two home runs, and walking six. At Triple-A his numbers are arguably worse, with 45 earned runs allowed in 69 innings, walking a whopping 51 hitters. Between Reid-Foley and Thornton, the Red Sox should be disappointed if they don’t leave Toronto with two wins from those two games.
The Red Sox are absolutely raking against right-handed pitchers. They rank first in the majors in batting average BABIP and OBP, as well as second in BB% and joint third in wRC+. Three righties in this series should be a good sign for the Red Sox.
Toronto has struggled massively at home this season. They rank dead last in batting average, OBP and BABIP, as well as bottom-10 in wRC+, K%, and BB%. However, they have had success hitting for power, ranking 13th in ISO. However, that ISO falls to the 12th worst in the league when you look at their numbers against left-handed pitching. This series could be a fantastic opportunity for the Red Sox to exploit the Blue Jay weaknesses.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Pitching: The extra day’s rest is going to be a great relief to the Red Sox after this weekend. Saturday saw the bullpen stretched to its extremes, and thankfully Eduardo Rodriguez did a solid job on Sunday to spare further issues. That performance from Rodriguez, and the Monday off, plus two days off before the London Series, should mean that this bullpen is not in dire straights come Tuesday and Wednesday. However, the Red Sox coaching staff will be hoping Price and Sale can put together plenty of innings this weekend, so they can keep their bullpen out of the firing line as long as possible.
Hitting: You couldn’t ask for much more from the Red Sox hitters in the London Series. 21 runs in two games should yield at least one win. Sadly it did not, and now the hitters need to keep that form up in the second half of the season.
An interesting statistic for the Red Sox has been their inability to get hits from the leadoff hitter in the first innings. Four hitters have been the first hitter of the game, and all four have a batting average below .200. In fact, the first spot in the lineup has been a nightmare, with a combined .230 batting average from that spot. When you are not getting off to good starts in games and your top of the order hitter is struggling it puts a lot of pressure on your team. The Red Sox need to get someone hitting consistently in that one spot in the second half of the season.
The Red Sox are now 11 games behind the Yankees in the race for the division, as well as being two games behind the Rangers for the wildcard spot. The Red Sox need to start turning this around or they are going to find it tough come September. Six games in Toronto and Detroit before the All-Star break is their opportunity and they must capitalize.
Coming out of this series and these six games without series wins, and at least four of the six games. Realistically facing two of the worst four teams in the American League, the Red Sox should be looking at winning five or even all six of these. Do that and the All-Star break will feel a lot more comfortable. There is still plenty of time in this season, but they have to win games against bad teams or they are going to be in trouble.