RSCTBNL: Red Sox Reach Memorial Day Milestone In Good Shape

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It’s Memorial Day.  A time to remember those who gave their lives in service of our country, and also the unofficial start of summer.  For baseball, it is the first milestone for teams to take stock in what they have, and to begin to separate the pretenders from the contenders.  Count the 32-20 Boston Red Sox in the contender category.

In my latest Red Sox Column to be Named Later, I check in with where the Red Sox stand at this important point in the young 2021 season, and how they stack up against their competition in the American League East.  I also highlight the leaders and those who struggled in the month of May, and then turn to look forward to a tough upcoming schedule for the month of June.

Photo courtesy of wcvb.com

High and Tight

Going into Memorial Day, the Red Sox are just one game out of first place in the AL East behind the white-hot Tampa Bay Rays, winners of 15 of their last 16 games.  Tampa Bay’s run has been otherworldly, but nobody can sustain a .938 winning percentage for very long.  The Red Sox have done well to have only lost five games to the Rays during their streak, winning 10 of 14, a very impressive .714 win percentage in its own right. 

The Yankees also appeared to have recovered from their slow start, only to stumble back.  The Bombers entered May with a 12-14 record, 4 1/2 games behind the Red Sox.  By May 23rd they had climbed to just a half game behind the Sox after going 16-5 over that stretch.  But recently they have once again hit the skids, losing five of their last six, including getting swept by the lowly Tigers over the weekend.

And don’t forget the nomadic Blue Jays.  They are only two games over .500 at 27-25, but they can hit and could go on a run if they can get decent pitching and their bats heat up.  The Jays also had visions of climbing into the AL East race when they beat the Red Sox 7-3 on May 19th in the first game of a three game set to pull within a half game of the Sox.  The Red Sox responded to the challenge, taking the next two games of the series and setting the Jays off on a six game losing streak.

The Red Sox so far this season have managed to avoid extended losing streaks.  They have lost three in a row only twice this season, and have only lost back-to-back games on five occasions.  Conversely, they have had a nine game winning streak, twice won four in a row, and have had four three game mini win streaks.  It’s that consistency which has kept them at or near the top of the division, and, barring major injuries, should keep them in the running through the summer.


Trending Up, Trending Down – May Edition

Up

Xander Bogaerts led the Sox with a .322 average in the month of May, but right behind him is a surging Hunter Renfroe, who batted .307 for the month with seven doubles and five home runs.

Photo courtesy of Forbes Magazine

Rafael Devers outhomered Bogaerts by one for the month, launching seven dingers to lead the team for May.  Devers also led the team in RBI (22) and tied with Bogaerts in runs scored with 19.

Martin Pérez, Nick Pivetta, and Garrett Richards each finished with three wins in May to lead the Sox starters.  Pivetta also led the team in strikeouts for the month with 34.

Adam Ottavino wins the ERA Crown for the month, allowing only three earned runs in 12 innings pitched for a 2.25 ERA.  Pérez was tops among Sox starters with a 2.60 ERA over five starts.

Ottavino also lead all Sox relievers with 13 appearance in the month, and has established himself as the high leverage setup man for closer Matt Barnes, who posted six saves in seven chances in the month, and was just a Shohei Ohtani blast away from a perfect month.

Down

Austin Brice avoided the dubious honor of having the highest ERA for a Red Sox pitcher in the month of May (13.50) by getting unconditionally released late last month, so Matt Andriese is able to claim the prize with his 9.82 ERA in eight appearances.  Eduardo Rodriguez had the low water mark for all starters at 6.48.  E-Rod also led all Sox pitchers in losses in May with three.  His struggles in the month are a growing cause for concern.

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On the offensive side, Bobby Dalbec found himself just above the Mendoza line with a .203 average in May, with Marwin González not far ahead of him at .211.  Dalbec also led the team in K%, going down by way of the K in 39.7% of his plate appearances.  For comparison, the much maligned Franchy Cordero had a K% of 23.9 before his demotion to Worcester.

 

Look Ahead to June

The Red Sox have had three days off in the past week (two scheduled, one rain out), and also had a rain-shortened six inning game in one other contest.  Hopefully the pitching staff was able to get some rest, because the Red Sox are now scheduled to play16 straight days before their next day off.

The Red Sox will finish May with the first of a four game series with the Astros in Houston.  The ‘Stros are 28-24, a game and a half behind Oakland in the AL West.  The Red Sox will then head to New York for their first meeting of the season with the Yankees.

The Sox will then return to Fenway for three more with Houston, followed by a four game set with the soon to be Buffalo Blue Jays, followed by a makeup of Sunday’s rainout with the Marlins.  The Sox then head out on the road for an eight-day, three city trip (two in Atlanta, three in Kansas City, and three in St. Petersburg against the Rays), before returning home to close out the month with three games against the Yankees and a four game set against the Royals.

June’s opponents will present a stern test for the Red Sox.  The aggregate winning percentage of the six teams the Sox will face post is a very respectable .569.  Thirteen of the 29 games will also come against division opponents.  It’s a fair bet the standings could flip-flop some more before the calendar turns to July.


Follow Bill on Twitter @BTravers_SYN


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COMMENTS

BLOGGER: 1
  1. Very happy with our first months. Very tough June schedule ahead. I'd be happy if the Bosox go 16-13 in June which would give them either a 48-34 or 49-33 depending on today's outcome in Houston.

    The Sox Big 3 of J.D., Xander and Raffy have the best combined production of any 3-5 hitters in MLB and the back end of the rotation(3-5) have been a very pleasant surprise. In the bullpen, Garret Whitlocklooks like a steal from the Yankees and Matt Barnes, with the exception of a Shohei Othani HR has been nearly perfect. Props also to Alex Verdugo who has hit constantly since arriving in Boston and also both Adam Ottavino and Hunter Renfroe, who both struggled in April but have turned it around in May.

    In conclusion, if the Red Sox can stay close enough in the division race to become buyers at the trade deadline, and Chris Sale can contribute sometime during the last two months then I see no reason why this team can't make a deep run in the postseason!

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Boston Sports Syndicate: RSCTBNL: Red Sox Reach Memorial Day Milestone In Good Shape
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