It's time to get back to the regular season grind again, and for a Red Sox team where the story needs to be "getting healthy," we sure are starting out hurt. I present to you our lineup for tonight:
Nobody back, but Beltre frighteningly absent after his hamstring issues apparently hamstrung Joe Girardi in the All-Star Game. I guess the only way to go is up, huh?
So what better way to subject our poor team to a significant and unneeded test down five in the division but to take on the A.L. West leading Texas Rangers? This should be fun.
As much as I'd like to tell you that the Rangers are a product of luck, or that we'll be able to beat up on some weaker pitchers, the only good news I can bring is that we won't have to see Cliff Lee...more than once. The Rangers are a combination of a powerful offense, and a pitching staff that may have found some stability backed up by one of the better defenses in the league.
Offensively, there's no questioning the Rangers' ability to score. Ranked sixth with a .338 wOBA, the healthy Rangers look kind of like a better version of the injured Red Sox. There is a clear gap between the five strong bats on the team, and the rest of the pack, with Nelson Cruz, Josh Hamilton, Vladmir Guerrerro, Ian Kinsler, and Michael Young all bringing big production to the table.
Good news for the Red Sox, though: there are some massive home - away splits to be found. Away from Arlington, Kinsler and Young are actually below average offensive players (Cruz barely skates by with a .334 wOBA), while none of the other three can really be considered elite this season, with Hamilton's .368 wOBA leading the pack. Fenway park isn't exactly Petco, but there's a possibility that there's more than just dimensions at work here.
These guys are no slouches on defense, either, as Hamilton, Cruz, and Kinsler are all good gloves at their position. In fact, other than Chris Davis at first and Michael Young at third, this team is filled with strong defenders. Hit it down the lines, I guess?
On the surface, the Ranger's pitching numbers are underwhelming, but a lot of that is due to instability in the rotation. To date, the Rangers have had ten different pitchers make starts this season. With that chaos finally sorting itself out, the rotation is looking much better, with the Sox set to take on four solid arms.
That's not to say this is a Cy Young rotation though. Out of the trio of Tommy Hunter, Colby Lewis, and C.J. Wilson, only Lewis' numbers really stand out as those of a very good pitcher. Through 17 starts, Lewis is sporting a 3.33 ERA, a 3.65 FIP, and a 3.96 xFIP in a career year for the 31-year-old. While Hunter's ERA is much lower at 2.34, he's been the beneficiary of some good luck with an 81.6% left on base rate, and a 4.43 xFIP. He's doing it the right way, though, by keeping the free passes down, even if he's not striking a ton of guys out. With this sort of defense, that will get the job done more often than not. C.J. Wilson gives the Red Sox the best shot of the three to score some runs thanks to his 4.38 BB/9, but still, nothing will come easy.
Oh, and then they face Cliff Lee.