Red Sox vs. Blue Jays Series Preview

The most important game is the one in front of you. Any good predator will tell you that. For the Red Sox, the most important game of the season is today. While that’s usually true in sports, it’s not always true in baseball. But now it is because the season is almost over. There are 23 games, a mere 14 percent, remaining, and, for the first time since July 22, the Red Sox find themselves in sole possession of first place in the AL East. The team immediately behind them by a single game as of this writing is the Toronto Blue Jays, coincidentally the very team they find themselves matched against for three games starting today.

Given all that, you can see that this three-gamer in Toronto is pretty important. We here at BP Boston aren’t typically in the habit of previewing every series. Maybe we should be, but the season is so long and there are only so many John Farrell jokes and on-pace-for stats one person can legally be subjected to over a six-month span. So we mostly don’t. But this! This is an exception, because this is very important. It’s not the playoffs, but if you wanted to look at the next 23 games as a series between the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Orioles, and Yankees, you wouldn’t be all that wrong. So, with that out of the way, hello. I’m Matt and together we’re going to preview the heck out of this series.


  1. The Blue Jays starters have the fourth-best ERA in baseball this season and the best in the American League. The Red Sox are tenth on that list.

  2. Over the past 30 days, Red Sox starters have the second-best ERA in baseball and the best in the American League. The Blue Jays are 15th on that list.

  3. Make some sense out of points 1 and 2, please. I double dog dare you.

  4. Reigning AL MVP Josh Donaldson is at it again, and by “it” I mean being incredibly good. Has he been better than Red Sox MVP hopeful Mookie Betts? By WARP, and both commonly used measurements of WAR, Betts has been better.

  5. By WARP, and both commonly used measurements of WAR, Mike Trout has been better than Betts though so, please people, I love Mookie Betts too, but can we give the best player in baseball the best player award?

  6. Who is the starting third baseman for the Red Sox? Yoan Moncada was a 21-year-old prospect in Double-A, then he was the starting third baseman for the Boston Red Sox, and now he’s a 21-year-old prospect with a lousy albeit small batting record and a seat on the bench. For now it looks like Travis Shaw’s job to lose.

  7. Can Shaw lose it again? Considering his body of work you’d sure think so, but where does Farrell go now? Moncada again? Maybe for a short period of time but you have to think Farrell will try harder to keep both feet out of his mouth by declaring the rookie the unquestioned starter again. Maybe Aaron Hill has something left in the tank? Maybe Aaron Hill has a tank! That could be helpful.

  8. The Red Sox bullpen has been mediocre this year and downright bad recently but consider: the return of Koji from the DL (one perfect inning pitched, two strikeouts) and the new and improved Joe Kelly (three IP, five hits, no runs, five strikeouts, no walks) might just be the keys to… drat. I almost made it through that sentence with a straight face.

  9. It’s true Koji and probably Kelly to a lesser extent could help the bullpen, but that’s mostly because they couldn’t make it worse. There’s no harm in flicking lit matches at your neighbor’s house but if it’s already engulfed in flames. Flick all you want.

  10. The Jays bullpen has been about as lousy as Boston’s. The differences seem to be three:

    1. The Red Sox pen has been hurt by walks

    2. The Blue Jays pen has been hurt by home runs

    3. Roberto Osuna, who has given up seven homers in 60 innings, has been better than Craig Kimbrel, who has walked 22 in 44.1 innings.

    4. You see what I’m saying here.

  11. Both teams crush the snot out of the ball.

  12. The Red Sox crush more snot out of more balls, making them better snot-crushers out of balls. Their certificate is surely in the mail.


GAME 1: Rick Porcello vs. Marco Estrada

  1. You have to go back to July 24 to find the last time Rick Porcello gave up four or more runs in a start. Before that, you have to back to June 23. So, fun with arbitrary endpoints: since June 24, Rick Porcello has given up three or fewer runs in every start except one.

  2. Marco Estrada was the pitching surprise of last season. He had one of the lowest BABIPs in baseball history and then he started pulling the same garbage again this season. But then the second half of the season rolled around and, despite most of his underlying numbers looking the same, Estrada’s ERA has shot up from below three to 5.00. The baseball gods do exist and they find Marco Estrada’s precious ERA hilarious.

  3. David Ortiz will not be pitching today, but he will be back in the lineup for the first time since last Sunday. Big Papi has 23 games left and, maybe, hopefully a few more if the Sox can win a few more of those 23 than they lose. Don’t think Big Papi doesn’t know that. I’d suggest buckling that safety belt.


GAME 2: Eduardo Rodriguez vs. J.A. Hap

  1. What is Eduardo Rodriguez? Here are his runs allowed for all his starts dating back to July 27: 3, 1, 3, 1, 0, 5, 0. He’s either been amazing (two shutouts, one cut short by injury), very good (multiple one run starts), or a mess. In the first of those three run performances he didn’t make it out of the fifth inning, and in the second he didn’t make it out of the fourth. Then he carried a no-hitter into the ninth inning last start. I suppose this is what promise looks like up close. If he gets on a roll, oh gosh, baseball would need to watch the heck out.

  2. Happ is, as far as I can tell, Estrada. He’s been very good, much better in fact, than anyone had a right to expect. But, like Estrada, over the past month he’s come apart a little bit, mostly due to giving up home runs.

  3. There’s a narrative out there that the Red Sox aren’t as good against left-handers, which would seem to give an advantage to Happ, but it’s not true. The Red Sox have an .820 OPS against right-handers and an .811 OPS against left-handers. Not that OPS is the greatest statistic but it paints the picture just fine.

  4. At this point Red Sox will have faced two of Toronto’s best three starters and have a very real shot at winning both games.

GAME 3: Clay Buchholz vs. Aaron Sanchez

  1. This is the game where Toronto has the clear advantage in the pitching matchup. Sanchez hasn’t been as dominant of late but he’s been almost as effective. The strikeouts are down a bit and the walks have come up, both of which could be a result of him plowing past 170 innings (he’s two thirds short), about 35 beyond his career high. The Jays have been toying with the idea of shutting Sanchez down, moving to a six-man rotation, skipping his starts, and/or sending him to outer space, all with the intent of limiting his innings. Problem is, they’re in a dogfight for the AL East and indeed the playoffs and they need this guy.

  2. Clay Buchholz stars in, As The World Turns. Buchholz went from sure second starter to back end of the rotation guy, to bullpen cast-off, to back of the rotation guy, to bullpen cast-off, to back of the bullpen guy, to vital rotation piece. The latest incarnation of The Clay is indebted to to Steven Wright’s injured shoulder for the opportunity, but his non-injured shoulder for seizing it. In his last three starts, Buchholz has pitched 19 innings, given up three runs, struck out 18, and walked two. He’s pitching like the guy he was supposed to be at the beginning of the year. Remember Derek Lowe’s 2004 season? How weird would that be?

The totality of the series is going to result in one of three things: the Blue Jays sweeping and taking a two game lead over Boston, the Red Sox sweeping and taking a four game lead over Toronto, or a split of some sort keeping things pretty close. In fact, the Red Sox are in a very good position because by winning just one of these, they insulate themselves from losing a share of first place.

Of course, they could do much better than that. We’ve waited all year for this team to realize its potential and kick things into a higher gear. This is as good an opportunity as they’ve yet seen. This year’s Red Sox have specialized in squandering good opportunities but they still have a few chances left. The season isn’t over yet.

Photo by Winslow Towson/USA Today Sports Images

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