Things did not go exactly to plan for the Red Sox in the series against the Dodgers. They got off to a great start winning the first game, but could not pull out the extra innings game on Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN. Losing to the Dodgers was a massive blow, but not exactly an unexpected one. Avoiding being swept was extremely important, and the fight they demonstrated against arguably the best team in baseball will carry them into the second half feeling good.
7/16 Andrew Cashner vs. TBD 7:10 pm NESN
The obvious name to look at here is brand new Red Sox Andrew Cashner. He comes to the Sox with a more than respectable 3.85 ERA this season. However, a large part of that has been his impressive 3.47 ERA at home in Camden Yards. Can he now bring that home form to the Red Sox? In his career, he has only started two games in Fenway Park, allowing eight earned runs in 10 innings pitched. Not exactly a favorable record, but given the small sample size, it is not a disaster situation either.
It bears repeating just how Trent Thornton has been on the road this season. His 3.60 road ERA is only that high because the Yankees took a liking to him in his last road start. Last time in Fenway he went toe-to-toe with Sale and came away with a ton of respect. This time against Porcello he could be the pitcher who gets this series off to a terrible start for the Red Sox.
Sanchez’s road form is in stark contrast to that of Thornton. Sanchez has a 6.79 ERA on the road this season, with a .306 batting average against. Richard has also struggled on the road, with a 5.29 ERA. Finishing the series against those two pitchers should be a great way for the Red Sox to round out the series.
The Red Sox have struggled to get any production this season out of the right side of their infield. The first base position has hit just .235, and second base just .252. Combined they have accounted for just 28 home runs. In contrast, the left side of the infield has hit over .300 at both positions, with 37 home runs. Given that first base is supposed to be one of your better hitters, that is somewhat of a disaster for the Red Sox.
The Blue Jays hitting has gradually improved throughout the season. In March/April and May, they hit under .240 with a combined 68 home runs. In June and the first half of July, they’re hitting a combined .250 with 60 home runs. The Red Sox pitching needs to be aware that the Blue Jays offense is a different one from earlier in the year and treat it as such.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Pitching: All eyes will be on Andrew Cashner. He has been acquired with a view to providing some right-handed depth in their rotation. The Red Sox will be keen to see how he starts his time with them, having lacked quality right-handed options due to the injuries to Nathan Eovaldi and the poor performances of Porcello.
Hitting: I mentioned the struggles of the right side of the Red Sox infield above. The Red Sox will be hoping to get a boost later in the year when their platoon of Mitch Moreland and Steve Pearce return. That will allow them to use Michael Chavis as a utility man on the infield. Chavis is another hitter they would like to see get his mojo back in this series, having registered a solitary hit in the Dodgers series.
The Dodgers loss will hurt, but it will was not entirely unexpected. The Red Sox will be aware these are the sort of series they have to win 3-1 or 4-0 if they are to stay in the race for the division.
There will be challenges in this series. Thornton is tough, and panic could set in if he leads the Blue Jays to a first-game victory. However, with a weak back end for the Blue Jays pitching in this series, the Red Sox will likely have a strong series against a mediocre Blue Jays team.