Every time things are looking up for this team, they go and shoot themselves in the foot. The series against the Blue Jays wasn’t just bad, it was nearly a disaster. Only a late rally in Game 1 of the Blue Jays series prevented this from being a home sweep. Now with an 18-19 record at home, the Red Sox welcome a White Sox team containing one of the hottest young starters in the majors right now.
6/22 David Price vs. TBD 7:10 pm NESN
The series loss to the Blue Jays is on the pitchers. Sale gave up four runs in five innings, the bullpen allowed all eight in Game 2, and Porcello allowed five in six innings on Sunday. Yes, the offense failed to fire on Sunday, but they scored 14 runs in the first two games. To have seven runs scored, the starter to blank an opponent over five innings and lose is a disaster. In the same vein, Porcello simply cannot allow five runs to be scored and expect to win. 15 runs in three games should have been enough to win this series. The fact it was not lies with the rotation and the bullpen. Now they need to bounce back.
Giolito is reminding everyone in baseball why he was so highly touted as a prospect. The 24-year old pitcher has been superb in 2019, with a 2.74 ERA entering this start. In 85 1/3 innings, he has struck out a whopping 105 batters while walking 29. To put that into context; his 2019 K/9 is 10.97 and his BB/9 is 3.06, compared to career numbers prior to this season of 6.4 (K/9) and 4.3 (BB/9). It gets worse when you look at his splits, as he performs better on the road than at home, with a 2.49 ERA and a .180 batting average against away from home.
The counter to the good performances of Giolito is the struggles of Lopez. Another highly touted prospect, Lopez has a 6.23 ERA this season in 86 2/3 innings. Lopez’s struggles have come in the form of the home run, allowing 2.18 HR/9. He has been slightly better at preventing home runs on the road, but other numbers have been worse. His batting average against on the road is .308, and opponents slugging percentage is up at .573.
The Red Sox will be seeing two right-handed pitchers in this series, which is a promising situation for their offense. Against righties, the Red Sox have the highest batting average in the majors, the fourth highest wOBA, and the seventh best strikeout rate. Home runs have not been free-flowing, as they rank 13th in that category. However, they rank second in the majors in runs scored against righties, with 321 runs scored.
In stark contrast, the White Sox will find three left-handed pitchers waiting for them in Boston. The White Sox have seen the seventh-least amount of PA this season against lefties, and their success has been mixed. On one hand they rank ninth in the majors in batting average against lefties, but equally, they rank 26th when it comes to ISO, and 20th in slugging percentage.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Pitching: Three lefties in one series is certainly interesting. In a way, it is a bad time for the Red Sox not to need their fifth starter, due to the trip to London, because Johnson looked good last time out. However, they now get to throw their best four pitchers at opponents for the next nine games. Most teams would kill to not need their fifth starter for the next two weeks. Now the Red Sox need their starters to step up and take advantage.
Hitting: This is the series where Mookie Betts is going to turn his form around. The Red Sox talisman has struggled in June, with a .213 batting average. However, with two righties lined up, and potentially a third, he has a chance to get right. Betts’ has a .280 batting average, and has hit 11 of his 12 home runs, off righties. The same goes for Devers, who is having his worst month, but has 10 of his 12 home runs off right-handed pitchers. Before a big series in London, the Red Sox need these two to get themselves back in form.
Right now at Fenway Park nothing is a given for the Red Sox. They have not won a home series in June, going 4-7. In fact, they have not won a series at home in over a month, with their last victorious series coming when the Colorado Rockies visited. At least one game in this series will be tough to win, with Lucas Giolito on the mound, but Chris Sale against Reynaldo Lopez should be a very winnable game.
The Red Sox are travelling to London in four days time to take on the Yankees. If they do not win two games in this series, there is a very real chance they could head to London down double-digits on their biggest rivals for this division. If they can take a game off Lucas Giolito Monday, then a series sweep, and the confidence that comes with it, will be there for the taking.