The second half of the 2021 baseball season has not, in any way, been sunshine and rainbows for the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox record is 22-26 in the last 48 games, dating back to the Angels series that began on July 5th. The struggle with winning can be pretty much be pegged back to that three-game set in Anaheim. Losing 26 games in the span of playing 48 games is not indicative of a winning ballclub, in fact, that is a losing ballclub. Playing sub .500 baseball since the beginning of July has not done the Red Sox any favors. The Red Sox currently sit in third place, 9.0 games off the pace for the lead in the American League East. The Red Sox however own sole possession of the second Wild Card, being 2.0 games ahead of the Oakland Athletics, and 2.0 games behind the New York Yankees for possession of the first Wild Card spot. The 2021 baseball season is far from over, and the Red Sox have 29 games left to decide their fate.
American League East Division Champions
According to Fangraphs, the Tampa Bay Rays have a 99.8% chance of making the 2021 playoffs. Those sure are some hefty odds. The Tampa Bay Rays truly are an anomaly. Seemingly, it does not matter who is pitching for the team, or who is hitting, the Tampa Bay Rays just win, and they do so annoyingly. The New York Yankees are 7.0 games off the pace of first place, and the Red Sox find themselves 9.0 behind. To believe either the Yankees or Red Sox jump over the absurdly stacked Rays team is truly a pipe dream for fans. Bet your bottom dollar that the Tampa Bay Rays are the 2021 American League East Champions.
The Tampa Bay Rays have won 83 games so far this season. The Red Sox, at most, can win 104 games, but the likelihood of the Red Sox ending the season 29-0 is well, pigs have a better chance of getting airborne. The Rays would have to complete the 2021 season with a record of 22-9 to achieve a 105 win total, and quite honestly, the team can, because, right at this moment the Rays look nearly unstoppable. The totality of 105 wins might prove a challenge, but do not look for the Rays to finish the season below 100 wins. The Rays simply need to win just 17 of the next 31 games, and they are a 100 win team.
American League Second Wild Card Winner
The American League Wild Card is a dogfight. At the moment the New York Yankees own possession of the first Wild Card, with the Red Sox closely nipping at the Yankees’ heels. The Oakland Athletics are 4.0 games off the pace of the first Wild Card, and the Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays both share being 6.5 games off the pace.
The Red Sox very much has a shot at winning the first Wild Card. The Red Sox will face the Yankees three more times to end the 2021 season, and the Red Sox have already won the season series against the Yankees. The Red Sox also has the schedule advantage over the Yankees, as the Red Sox end the season, facing .500 or sub .500 win teams in the Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles, and the Cleveland Indians. The Red Sox must win, and strive for sweeps against all of those respective teams.
If the Red Sox split the current series they’re playing with the Rays, sweep upcoming series with Cleveland, Baltimore, Washington, and the Mets, as well as hold their own against Tampa, the White Sox, Mariners, and Yankees, the Red Sox could very well finish the 2021 season with 98 wins. A 98 win total seems almost impossible, but in actuality is not nearly as impossible as fans might be lead to believe. The Red Sox simply needs to sweep inferior teams, and not lose a series against comparable talent. The goal of the Red Sox should be to not lose any of the final 10 series on the season at all cost. If the Red Sox add in some sweeps and do not lose a single series moving forward, they will win at least 98 games, as well as, they will most likely own home-field advantage in the one-game Wild Card playoff.
American League First Wild Card Winners
The Red Sox have a 75-58 record, and as noted earlier, they have not been playing the best baseball since early July. The team seems to be primed to finish 2021 with possession of the second Wild Card. What might be the win total for the second Wild Card? Oakland has 72 wins, Seattle 70, and Toronto 69 wins. Taking a look at the win totals, all three teams below the Red Sox would most likely have to win at least 20 more games to take over possession of the second Wild Card spot. The Red Sox, if they finish the next 29 games with a record of 18-11, the team finishes with a 93 win total. Quite frankly, if the Red Sox cannot manage to get 18 wins when at least 14 wins are there for the taking against the Orioles, Nationals, Mets, and Cleveland, the team does not deserve to be a part of the playoff picture.
Close, but No Cigar
The Red Sox has two extremely reliable starters in Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi. Third starter Eduardo Rodriguez has pitched with more consistency during the second half of the season, and if the Red Sox want to be in the playoffs, these three men have to pitch as well as they possibly can. Between Sale, Eovaldi, and Rodgriguez, there should be just around 16 total starts. Sixteen games started by all three of those pitchers should position the Red Sox nicely for at least 16 more wins, bringing that 2021 win total to 91 for the season.
The Red Sox could also logically finish on the outside looking in. The team has had a losing record since early July, there are no ifs, ands, or buts about that, just a cold hard fact. Coming to light in the last handful of days, as well, is that the Red Sox face their greatest challenge on the season, and that is looking COVID-19 directly in the face. Christian Arroyo, Martín Pérez Enrique Hernández, Hirokazu Sawamura, Josh Taylor, and Matt Barnes have all been placed on the COVID-19 IL. The Red Sox have also been without right fielder Hunter Renfroe since August 25th after Renfroe, unfortunately, lost his father, and was placed on the bereavement list. The Red Sox have 29 games left to prove themselves worthy of a playoff berth, they can, and should absolutely do so, but it will not come easily, and unfortunately, it will not be happening at full health. No matter how this Red Sox team finishes the 2021 season, the blame should not be placed on Chaim Bloom. The blame should not be placed on COVID-19. The blame really and truly rests on the players, it is up to them, and no one else how this team finishes the 2021 season. Buckle up Red Sox fans, it is going to be one heck of a ride.
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