As the Red Sox look to do what they did in 2018 once again in 2019, they will first try to repeat the early-season success of last year’s squad. If you’ll recall, last year’s Red Sox got off to the best start in franchise history even after an absolutely miserable loss on Opening Day. They went 21-7 over the first month of the year, making a statement early and proving to both themselves and the league that they were not going to be fun to play at any point that season. Although they didn’t stay quite that hot all year, they didn’t have to. As we look ahead to 2019, getting off to that kind of hot start can go a long way.
They are going to be tested right off the bat, too, not necessarily in terms of talent but definitely in terms of travel. The Red Sox start their 2019 season out west with an eleven-game trip in the Pacific Time zone, going through Seattle, Oakland and Phoenix. They finally return home after that for a six-game homestand before heading back out on the road. The second trip is only a five-game set, though, and they remain on the eastern part of the country. Finally, they end the month with a nine-game homestand. In all, the Red Sox play 31 games before the end of April with 16 on the road and 15 at home.
In terms of talent, well, it’s hard to say since we don’t really know what to expect from any team in baseball at this point in the year. We can look at last year’s standings for some hints, and by that the Red Sox will have a few tough series. They have four against Seattle (89 wins in 2018), six against Oakland (97), three against Arizona (82), two against New York (100), and six against Tampa Bay (90). Of course, teams have changed dramatically since last year. By Fangraphs’ projected standings, 14 of the 31 games are against teams projected to finish above .500. By Baseball Prospectus’ projections it’s only eight of the 31 games.
All in all, this should be an interesting first month for the Red Sox. They have some things to sort out, most notably the makeup of their bullpen. They’ll have a long road trip on which to bond early in the year, though that always sounds good until/unless things go poorly. Still, they have enough cakewalks in here including a four-game home set against the Orioles and I think they’ll have a strong month. I’m predicting a 19-11 start to the year with one rainout that isn’t made up. What say you?