On Monday night, the NBA teams from Philadelphia and Boston squared off in a playoff game. It didn’t go so well for the Philadelphia team. Coincidentally, the cities’ baseball teams will also be facing each other this week, and based on how well the Boston team has performed this season, this series stands to go a little better for Philadelphia.
Record: 6-17 (Fifth place in American League East)
The last time they met
In 2019, the teams played two games at each team’s stadium. After the Phillies swept both games in Boston, they were feeling pretty good about themselves. However, the Red Sox got revenge a few weeks later when they won both games at Citizens Bank Park.
Wishing for the good old days...of 2018
When making predictions for the season, very few people expected the Red Sox to have the fewest wins in the American League. These are the perennial contender Red Sox, after all. They just won the World Series two years ago!
But when you take a look at their roster, you’ll notice that a lot of key players from the 2018 team aren’t around anymore. Mookie Betts and David Price were traded last year, and due to health concerns, neither Chris Sale nor Eduardo Rodriguez are going to pitch this season. That’s left them with an underwhelming lineup and a horrid starting rotation, which is generally a good formula for finishing in last place.
I know Red Sox-Yankees draws an audience, but, has national TV SEEN the Red Sox roster, better yet, it's pitching staff?— Justin L. (@JL_Baseball) August 16, 2020
There's nothing on that team right now that makes me as a baseball fan want to watch that game, or team.
Phillies fans will assuredly remember Ron Roenicke for his two-season stint with the team in the ‘80s. (Check out his stats from the 1987 season. They are decidedly not good.) He’s now the manager of the Red Sox, although everyone involved probably wishes that he wasn’t.
Roenicke was a bench coach for the Sox last season. He probably would have repeated in that role had baseball’s increasingly inconsistent justice system not decided that manager Alex Cora needed to be fired for his role in the Houston Astros cheating scandal.
The Red Sox were forced to find a replacement, and they basically looked around the organizational depth chart to see who they had on hand. With previous managerial experience, the Sox figured that Roenicke would do as well as anyone. At this point, Roenicke probably wishes they had chosen someone else.
WBZ's Jonny Miller: "Anything you can do to get out of this mess?"— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) August 16, 2020
Ron Roenicke: "I wish you could tell me, Jonny. I'm looking for direction here."
Red Sox fans were upset when the team traded away Mookie Betts last season in the name of “financial flexibility.” They have every right to be upset, because any team would be better off with a player named Mookie on it. They’re also understandably upset because Mookie Betts is very good, and the same cannot be said about most of the current Red Sox.
Mookie Betts has more fWAR than the Red Sox this year. All of them. Combined.— Max Carlin (@maxacarlin) August 15, 2020
fun stat of the day: Mookie Betts has a higher batting average than the Red Sox winning percentage as a team this year #TheMoreYouKnow!— (@ShakeZuIa) August 17, 2020
But come on, it’s not like the Red Sox have ever been burned before by trading a star outfielder for financial reasons.
I think the Sox trading Mookie will be the new age curse of the bambino.— Ryan (@RKudish) August 17, 2020
Spotlight on: Rafael Devers
One of the supposed reasons the Red Sox traded Betts was because they had the team’s next great hitter already in their system. Third baseman Rafael Devers certainly looked the part last year when he had an OPS of .912 and led the AL in doubles. But this year....not so much.
Devers is batting just .183 with two home runs. Somehow, he’s been even worse on defense.
Red Sox 3B Rafael Devers leads the majors with 8 errors, including 3 throwing errors Thursday. Chavis saved him from another throwing error Sunday.— Christopher Smith (@SmittyOnMLB) August 17, 2020
“He’s not using his footwork, which he really did a good job of that last year,” Ron Roenicke said. “
Roenicke is right to be concerned. Take this play for example: It’s not a good sign when the intended recipient of a throw doesn’t even attempt to catch the ball.
Devers clearly tried to guide this one to second instead of putting something on the throw. pic.twitter.com/GgaJdQksUa— Julian McWilliams (@byJulianMack) August 13, 2020
Hitting season ahead?
I don’t think I need to tell you which team has the worst bullpen ERA in the majors. But would you like to guess which team has the worst starting rotation ERA?
That would be the Detroit Tigers. But the Tigers were expected to be an abomination this season, so it isn’t a surprise that their starters have a combined ERA of 7.42. And right behind them at 7.19 are the Red Sox.
Without Sale, Price, and Rodriguez, (not to mention Rick Porcello whose mediocrity would be a boon to this rotation), the Red Sox starters have been dreadful. Nathan Eovaldi is on track for his second straight season with an ERA over 5.00, and he’s probably the best of the bunch.
In the first game of the series, the Phillies will be facing Zack Godley and his 8.16 ERA. Red Sox fans may not be looking forward to seeing Godley, but at least one member of the Phillies will be:
Bryce Harper has a 1.163 OPS in 17 PAs against Zack Godley, so I have a feeling he’s going to have another big game at Fenway tonight.— Destiny Lugardo (@destiny_lugardo) August 18, 2020
In the second game, they’ll go against rookie Kyle Hart who will be making his second career start. If you’re curious whether his first start went well, I’ll assure you that it did not. He gave up seven runs - including two home runs - in just two innings of work.
The Red Sox come into this game on an eight-game losing streak, so it stands to figure that they’ll win won eventually. But considering who they’re sending to the mound, it’s hard to see that happening against the Phillies. The Phillies will win both and restore some civic pride to the city.