Now that the Boston Red Sox have taken care of business, it’s time to look elsewhere. Over the next week or so, I will give Sox fans a preview of each potential opponent they may face when the ALDS begins on October 4th.
Tampa Bay Rays
The second spot for the Wild Card will come down to a 163rd game played tomorrow night between the Tampa Bay Rays, and the Texas Rangers. If the Rays win, they will then face the Cleveland Indians in the one-game-playoff for a seat in the ALDS.
Assuming the Rays come away with both victories, let’s take a look at what the Red Sox can expect to see in a true divisional matchup.
The one opponent that I really did not want to see the Sox get in the first round was the Rays. Despite Boston’s 12-7 record against them this year, this is by far the most challenging series the Red Sox could potentially face.
Tampa has one of the strongest rotations in the Majors and anchoring that rotation is the left-handed former Cy Young winner, David Price. Price has been fantastic since the All-Star break, compiling a 2.95 ERA while holding opponents to a .237 avg.
The bad news for the Red Sox is that Price has dominated them this year inside Fenway Park. In 3 starts this season, Price has 2-0 record with a 1.21 ERA at Fenway, keeping the best offense in baseball to a .137 avg. He’s left Boston’s hitters looking silly and completely off-balance so it wouldn’t be farfetched to assume a few runs might be all the Sox will be able to muster off of him.
The Red Sox have not faired well this season against good lefties, and the problem is that Price isn’t the only good one Tampa has.
Matt Moore is another lefty who has given Boston fits. He is 2-0 with an ERA of 1.81 against the Sox this year and is just as dangerous as Price. That 1-2 combination could potentially stymie the noise of the Boston bats in the postseason.
Potentially, is the key word, though. The Red Sox have a tremendous advantage offensively when compared to Tampa Bay. The Sox have scored 158 more runs than Tampa this year and have a team average .020 points higher. Tampa has gone through some tough stretches throughout the year where they were scrapping just to put 3 or 4 runs on the board, where as the Sox’ offense ran through opponents for the majority of the season.
When two teams are so familiar with each other, it makes it really hard to make any type of prediction about the series. Teams in the same division always play one another well, and Tampa is no exception. I think the Boston Red Sox will find a way win one of the first two games against Price or Moore, and the offense will carry them the rest of the way.
Series Prediction: Red Sox over Rays 3-2 (with a few extra inning games in the mix)