Welcome back to Read Sox. This week, we look at what the Red Sox can expect from the second half of the season. We also wonder whether Eduardo Rodriguez is being rushed back too quickly, and what to think of the starting pitching market as the trade deadline approaches.
Happy All-Star break, everyone. It’s an equally boring and glorious week spent day marveling at Giancarlo Stanton’s power and not watching the ESPYs. It’s the ceremonial middle of the MLB season, even though that one friend of yours who loves “Well, Actually …”-ing people will inform you that technically the season is already over halfway done.
When Eduardo Rodriguez (more on him later) and the Sox begin the second half in New York on Friday, it will begin a second half that is, put mildly, not poised to be kind to them. After a front-loaded home schedule, the Sox will find themselves on the road for 44 of their last 75 games. There are two West Coast trips still to play among those 44 games: an 11-game run in mid-August that starts in Anaheim, goes through Seattle and ends with the Dodgers, and a six-game trip in early September that brings them to Oakland and San Diego before finishing in Toronto.
From an offensive standpoint, expected production from the lineup – assuming it more or less stays the same – is a mixed bag. The good news: David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez, Mookie Betts, and Travis Shaw are all historically second-half players. All four of them have higher career wRC+ in the second half of the season, with Shaw’s (98 wRC+ vs. 123 wRC+) being the most dramatic. The caveat of small sample sizes comes into play when talking about Betts and Shaw, but having three of your better power hitters all be historically stronger in the second half is never a bad thing.
After a front-loaded home schedule, the Sox will find themselves on the road for 44 of their last 75 games.
That leaves Xander Bogaerts, Dustin Pedroia, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Brock Holt as the regulars (we’ll leave Sandy Leon out of this because apparently he’s just going to hit like .500 for the rest of the season) who could theoretically see a drop off in production. Holt’s second-half struggles have been well documented, Chris Young’s on the DL, and while filling in admirably, it’s not a stretch to say that Bryce Brentz isn’t the answer in left. With all that said, the mind can’t help but wonder whether Andrew Benintendi might be the answer in left field. Even as a top prospect, Benintendi has risen through the minors faster than anyone could have expected. He even admitted to the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier that “[he’d] be lying if he hadn’t thought about it” although prospects day-dreaming about playing in the big-leagues is hardly earth-shattering news.
Road trips – and the narratives that go along with them – tend to go one of two ways. The team either wins a lot (or at least comes away at .500) and suddenly they’re a team that’s bonded on the road and is ready to make a deep run, or the “rigors” of traveling across the country provide too much for them, they drop eight games back in August and are playing meaningless baseball by September. From an offensive perspective, this team seems perfectly capable of the former.
Circling back around to pitching, Eduardo Rodriguez is slated to open the second half of the season for the Sox. Since getting knocked around by the Rays and getting sent down to Triple-A on June 27th, Rodriguez has made only two starts. Apparently that was enough time for manager John Farrell and his staff to feel he’s made the necessary adjustments in his delivery. The trade market for starting pitchers is a post-apocalyptic barren wasteland where you’ll have to give up a real prospect for Rich Hill, so it makes sense that the Sox are going to exhaust all their other options before having to bite that bullet.
Speaking of the trade market, Atlanta Braves GM John Coppolella went on the record saying that pitcher Julio Teheran won’t be traded. Well that very well may be true, it’s just as possibly a bargaining tactic. This wouldn’t be the first time that a GM has declared a player untouchable, only to ship him off somewhere else at the deadline for a king’s ransom. At Over the Monster, Ben Buchanan argues that Teheran is good, but not take-out-a-second-mortgage good.
Multiple outlets are reporting that the Sox and first-round draft pick Jason Groome are nearing a deal. Alex Speier tweeted yesterday that the deal “‘should get done,’ though final bonus figure still being discussed.” By all accounts Groome was one of — if not the biggest — steal in the draft, as many scouts and evaluators had him as the top talent on their boards. Signing the lefty would give the Sox two legitimate pitching prospects with front of the rotation, even ace, potential and a great chance to get back to emphasizing pitcher development.
Over at the Boston Hearld, Steve Buckley catches up with Don Orsillo, The One That Got Away. From all accounts, Orsillo seems happy – he’s doing TV and radio for the Padres, he lives in a city where the weather is as close to literal perfection as scientifically possible and is also apparently very tan. There are, however, some incriminating quotes from Orsillo about how his time at NESN ended. Orsillo and NESN’s nasty divorce was one of last season’s worst-kept secrets, so it’s nice to see him land on his feet with another team. The whole article reads like that scene in a romantic comedy where the broken up couple runs into one another at a coffee shop six months down the road and stops to reminisce for a minute before going on their way.
Photo by David Butler II/USA Today Sports Images