What We Know (And don't know)

The Red Sox will not win 16 out of every 18 games the rest of the year. Given that they have managed to do just that to start the season, however, the question to ask is, how? And, considering that this level of success will not continue, what is most likely to go wrong? I would point to a couple of ways the Sox have been outstanding on this run that have been encouraging, but are not necessarily sustainable.

Starting pitching

One of the constant themes of this run of dominance has been the outstanding performance of the pitching staff. The starters have an ERA under 2, a fact that bodes extremely well for the team's long-run prospects. That said, it is unrealistic to expect this level of continued success. The Sox have not played many games where they have been forced to play catch-up after a subpar performance from the starter; regardless of the rotation's talent, these games happen to every team. We'll have to see how the team responds in those situations as the year goes on; the comeback win at Tampa Bay is certainly an encouraging sign.

Early offense

Also in the realm starting the game off right, the Sox have been excellent at striking early and often. Mookie Betts has demonstrated this better than anyone, with 2 leadoff home runs in the series against the Angels. However, there will be games where the offense takes a while to get going, and it largely remains to be seen how the team will respond in those situations. There have not been too many high-leverage, late-game at-bats; there certainly will be down the stretch and into (hopefully) October, so we'll have to see how the bats can handle the pressure.

The bullpen

The biggest unknown, however, remains the bullpen. The consistently strong starts have meant that there haven't been many nail-biting finishes where the team has to protect a small lead. The few times so far the team has been in these situations, the results have been mixed; the team won a string of close games to open the season, but there was also the Joe Kelly disaster on opening day and Matt Barnes blowing an extra-inning lead in Miami. This will definitely be an area to watch as the season progresses. Tyler Thornburg's return and the trade deadline will certainly be things to keep an eye on.

All in all, it's hard to imagine a better start to the season. Nevertheless, 18 games can't tell us how the team will respond to many situations the team will face as the season plays out. There's more than enough reason for optimism. However, the Sox play a long season. Things we can take for granted now may not continue to hold up as the season goes along, and therein lies the potential for trouble. As Mark Twain said, "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." There's much we don't yet know about these Red Sox; hopefully, that means more pleasant surprises than negative ones.