We all know just how frustrating this Red Sox season has been, as most of us have sat around from that opening trip out west and have been left wondering just what the hell was going on. We also all know just how important this stretch of games against the Rays and Yankees was to Boston’s season, a fact pounded home by every Sox-related publication for the last week, including this one right here. At this point, they aren’t even halfway through said stretch, but they’ve gotten off to a huge start by taking three of the first four games against these two teams. That includes an emphatic exclamation point dropped on Thursday, too.
At this point in the season, we should probably all know better than judging this Red Sox team by any one game. Granted, that’s true of every baseball team — you’re only as good as the next day’s starting pitcher and all that — but it seems even more apt for the 2019 Boston squad. Each and every time they start to seemingly build momentum, they come crashing back down to Earth. And yet, despite knowing better, I’m going to run with the win they picked up on Thursday. That kind of win and the feeling around it serves as a reminder to the front office that this team is indeed worth investing in.
It’s sort of become a cliche at this point, and something that can be said every time this Red Sox team actually plays well. That said, at least in the immediate aftermath with recency bias in the air, no night of this 2019 season felt more like watching the 2018 team than Thursday night at Fenway against the Yankees. They jumped out to a 7-0 lead, but then they kept adding on. We’ve seen them jump out to big, early leads before but it seems like they’ve had a tendency to stop scoring after the initial outburst. They never stopped on Thursday. They also got a solid start from Rick Porcello, who could have folded up after a rough second inning but settled in and still gave the team six innings. Given what we’ve seen from him and the rotation as a whole this year, folding wouldn’t have been a huge surprise.
There is still a lot of work for this team to do. We all know this, and even with the blowout victory they remain ten games out of the division. They wouldn’t even be in a playoff spot if the season ended today, finding themselves a game behind the Athletics in the wildcard race. Boston has the talent to show they are much better than that, though. Their offense is firing on all cylinders and their top three alone of Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts are worth the price of admission on their own. The starting pitching is starting to come around a bit, particularly if Andrew Cashner can pitch solidly on Friday. Even the bullpen, the cause of much stress in this area, is as strong as it’s been all year. Brandon Workman has been mostly great. Matt Barnes is looking like Matt Barnes again. Darwinzon Hernandez has looked good in a small sample. Nathan Eovaldi is showing positive signs while shaking off the rust. There are pieces here.
Still, they are not a complete team. Even with the additions of Eovaldi and Hernandez, this team needs at least one more reliever. That’s been clear all year, and really since the moment the offseason began last winter. The key for this Red Sox team, however, is and always has been the players already on the roster that make up the core. If they aren’t playing well, nothing else matters. Even when they are, however, they need supplementation.
It should be mentioned that this is not a buyer’s market, with so many teams jumbled around this postseason race. The Red Sox farm system is also, as we and others have noted many times, one of the worst in the league. They’ve shown every indication of wanting to stay below that highest luxury tax bracket. They are, barring a wild final two months of the year, playing for the right to play in a one-game playoff series. There are so many reasons to point to if you want to talk yourself into not investing in this team. Trust me, I was there at the start of the week.
But then you see the way they’ve played the last four games, and especially the way they played on Thursday night. You see them blow the Yankees out of the water. You see the offense absolutely explode while Rick Porcello gets through six solid innings. You are reminded of the talent on this roster, despite the struggles throughout this year. Windows with this kind of talent don’t come around all the time, even for a franchise like the Red Sox. You can’t waste it. This team is worth the investment.