The Red Sox are seemingly turning their season around thanks to some solid performances by veterans in late-game at-bats, good pitching (besides Buchholz) and the Atlanta Braves. The Red Sox have now taken three in a row against the Braves, but should Boston fans take the bait? Here’s some things to consider:
The Atlanta Braves are number one in their division, but it isn’t the strongest division in baseball. All but the Braves missed the playoffs last season and the other four teams (Philadelphia, New York Mets, Miami, Washington) had a combined record of 295-353 last season. The Braves also got bounced in the first series against the Dodgers in the 2013 playoffs.
The Braves strikeout a ton as they rank 25th in the MLB in fewest strikeouts, a little bit of a double negative there, but if you’re following it is a bad thing. They are making the Boston pitchers job a little easier. The Braves struggled with this most of last season as well. The Braves are also 27th in on-base percentage, which should come up, but like the Red Sox we’re a quarter of the way through the season so the issues are the issues.
The Braves are 29th in runs scored and 26th in batting average in 2014 and offensively they are not working pitchers with an impatient approach at the plate. All this benefits the Red Sox, who have climbed their way to 4th in the AL East above Tamps Bay.
The Braves have been able to rely on the starting pitching and that has kept them atop the NL East, but the bullpen is allowing the Red Sox to score late in games. This break down in Braves late-game pithing has allowed the Red Sox to get seven runs in the 7th inning of the last three games and directly led to two of the wins for Boston.
Now for the legit items to be excited about from this series. Ortiz and Pedroia have started to produce at the plate getting 8 RBI’s in three games collectively. The Red Sox hitters are not as bad as we have seen in the first quarter of the season especially in the case of these two.
John Lackey isn’t going anywhere. Lackey is now 6-3 with a 3.27 ERA in 2014. His numbers are legit and the Red Sox are benefitting from him playing for his next contract. Since last season, Lackey has been a staple part of this pitching staff as he’s stayed healthy and taken up quality innings.
Some may not look at this as a positive, but Buchholz going to the DL is a blessing in disguise. His numbers are atrocious and taking his spot will likely be a young pitcher that comes up and either fills right in for Buchholz in the rotation, or gets valuable experience in the bullpen. I was all in on Buchholz last season, but he can’t handle a full schedule in the MLB, he just can’t and it’s due time the Red Sox stop relying on him.
There is plenty of positive to take out of the series, but don’t let a three-game win streak (the first of the 2014 season) against the Braves be a sort of fools gold as a Boston fan. This team has issues at the plate and until they address that, they will struggle. The final game of this series kicks off tonight at 7:10pm when Jake Peavy takes the mound.