The 2nd half of the season, or the stretch run begins with the Sox on the road. They get 3 games in Kansas City, 4 in Boston, finishing with 3 in Detroit. It’s not a make or break trip, but the Sox need to at least win 5 of these games.
The Sox ended the 1st half on a positive note, winning 7 of their last 10 games, to lead the Central by 3 games over Cleveland.
There are a number of question marks on the team.
Jake Peavy has thrown 120 innings, the most for him since 2008. How will his arm respond in the 2nd half? He has won just six 2nd half games over the past 3 years.
Who knows how Chris Sale and Jose Quintana will react to pitching in a pennant race. They have never been in the type of pressurized situations the final 77 games will bring.
Who is Gavin Floyd? Is he the guy who last about 5 innings, while giving up 5, and sometimes 6 runs? Or is he the guy with the devastating curveball, who can shut a team down any day of the week? He may be an enigma wrapped in a riddle.
The jury is out on John Danks and Phil Humber. Danks has yet to begin a rehab assignment, while Humber has made 2 in Charlotte. Depending on what you think of rehab results you can say that his 4.86 ERA in 6 innings is him just working to get back to the Sox, or you could say that he’ll be in trouble when he does return.
The bullpen has a lot of kids, 5 of them to be exact. The only veterans are Matt Thornton and the injured Jesse Crain. Addison Reed has found his niche as a closer, and Hector Santiago appears to have ironed out his control problems, but there is no book on the Omogrosso, Septimo, and Jones. How they perform down the stretch could determine if the Sox get back to the post-season.
Paul Konerko. Since June 1st the Captain is hitting just .245. He is the one threat the Sox have to have at the top of his game.
Adam Dunn usually slows his home run pace in the 2nd half, if you consider 15 bombs a slow down. That’s the average amount of home runs hit by Dunn in his big season between 2003-2010.
Dayan Viciedo has gone into a cave, and can’t seem to find his way out. The Tank is hitting a meager .196 since June 1st, with 3 home runs and 11 RBI. Konerko only has 3 home runs and 9 RBI’s, so it’s not like he has been much better.
A.J. Pierzynski, who admittedly should have been upset at his All-Star snub, has 49 RBI, along with 16 bombs. He is on pace to set career highs in both of those categories.
Alex Rios has been the Sox best hitter in the 1st half. Rios has hits in 15 of his last 17 games. In that time he is batting .426 with 4 home runs and 14 RBI.
Kevin Youkilis has been a godsend. He is playing amazing at 3rd, while showing the clutch offensive ability he showed for so many years in Boston.
If Beckham and Ramirez keep doing what they are doing, especially on the defensive end, the Sox will be fine with their limited offensive production.
My biggest question mark has to do with the age of the team. The pitching staff skews young, while the position players skews old. At least the ones that matter.
Konerko is 36
Pierzynski is 35
Youkilis is 33
Dunn is 32
Rios is 31
This could be the last stand for the Sox for awhile, but Ken Williams is crafty, so you never know what he has up his sleeve.
Games left for the Sox:
Kansas City 15
Red Sox 4
Blue Jays 4
77 games left, very few against teams with losing records. They do play Minnesota a lot, but the Twins will be pesky in the 2nd half, especially when the recall their entire farm system in August.
47 games against Central opponents. Saying they win 25 of them, that gives them 72 victories. Splitting the final 34, gives the, 88 wins. I think the division winner will need about 92. So, to me, the Sox have to find a way to win 4 of the games I have them losing.
Can Robin Ventura and his staff do it? The short answer is yes. The long answer is we’ll all know in just over 2 months.
It’s gonna be a fun ride.