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The 10 reasons to pay attention to the Red Sox’s last 10 games

The Red Sox only have 10 more games to go and with their playoff hopes long gone, you may think its time to tune out. Think again.

San Francisco Giants v Boston Red Sox Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

The Boston Red Sox will not qualify for the playoffs this season. This is far from breaking news. It’s been mathematically official for a while now and to the observant onlooker, it seemed pretty obvious far before that. (Author’s note: I need to take my own advice and pay more attention. The Red Sox’s chances at the playoffs didn’t officially end until Friday night. I apologize for the error.) In stark contrast with last season, the Red Sox are more or less running out the clock on the 2019 campaign after completing game No. 152 on Thursday. That leaves just 10 games left to play. For many, that means its time to check out and move on to other pursuits. However, there are still some reasons to follow along. They may not be as good as the reasons to follow the last 10 games of last season, but they are reasons all the same.

You can still see Eduardo Rodriguez pitch like an ace

Math isn’t my strongest subject, but with 10 games and a five-game rotation, albeit a injury riddled one, its likely that we will see Rodriguez get at another start or two before the end of the season. For anyone that enjoys watching someone at the peak of their powers, this is excellent news. Rodriguez is in the midst of the best season of his career and its been elevated by his recent run of ace-like efforts.

After shutting down the San Francisco Giants on Thursday, Rodriguez has now logged at least six innings and allowed one earned run or fewer in six of his last seven starts. He has a 1.00 ERA across those seven starts and has struck out at least eight batters in four-straight games, including back-to-back double digit strikeout efforts against Philadelphia and San Francisco. It might be too late for the Rodriguez to pitch the Sox into the postseason but its not too late for you to appreciate what he’s doing on the mound.

You can find out if J.D. Martinez will hit 40 home runs and drive in 100 runs again

Martinez wasn’t in the lineup on Wednesday or Thursday but if he gets back to the plate over the next week he has a chance to join elite company. He is currently sitting with 35 home runs and 97 RBI for the season. If he hits five more home runs and drives in three more runs, he would post back-to-back 40 home run, 100 RBI seasons. Carl Yastrzemski, Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz are the only players to ever accomplish that feat with the Red Sox. For Martinez to do so in his first two seasons in Boston would be quite the accomplishment.

You can still marvel at the seasons Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers are having

If Devers didn’t break out and Bogaerts didn’t hit another level, there would have been considerably less to enjoy this season. Devers has slashed .311/.362/.555 with 30 home runs, establishing himself as a future regular in the heart of the lineup. Bogaerts should be right there with him as he has also reached the 30-home run plateau and slashed an impressive .303/.379/.549 this season. There may be questions elsewhere on the roster, but the Red Sox are just fine on the left side of the infield.

This may be your last chance to see Rick Porcello play for the Red Sox

Depending on how you look at it, this could elicit joy or sadness. Porcello has really struggled this season. There is no denying it. With a 5.77 ERA and a an 84 ERA+, this is not exactly what you’d hope for in a contract year. However, Porcello has had some good times in Boston as well. He was a member of the 2018 World Series team and claimed a Cy Young award in 2016. With no guarantee that he’ll be back next season, its time to remember the glory days perhaps for the last time.

The same could be true of Mookie Betts

As much as it pains me to imagine a world in which Mookie Betts does not play for the Red Sox, with trade rumors beginning to swirl and no extension in play as of yet, there might not be as much time to appreciate his brilliant play as we think. The 2018 MVP has had a “down year” by his lofty standards, but he still leads the team in wins above replacement, according to Baseball-Reference. This marks his fourth-straight season of six-win caliber play. Like Martinez, he’s been sidelined of late, but assuming he returns to the lineup, its always a good idea to watch Betts play baseball. He’s the best player on the team after all. It’s almost like the Red Sox shouldn’t be considering life without him at all.

The chance to win 90 games is still in play

It would take a 10-game winning streak, so its not particularly likely, but it’s something to root for. Such a win total might seem meaningless since it still won’t yield a playoff berth, but reaching this plateau consistently is not easy. If the Red Sox somehow get to 90 wins, it will mark the fourth-straight season they’ve done so. The last time they did that was between 2002 and 2005.

The Red Sox can play spoiler for the Rays

Even if they aren’t the Red Sox’s primary rival, the Rays are still a team in the division. Boston doesn’t get bonus points when division mates make the postseason. The Rays currently have a 54.5 percent chance of making the playoffs. The Red Sox could reduce that number during this weekend’s four-game set. If you are still holding a grudge over the 2008 ALCS, this is as good a reason to watch as any.

Alex Cora might experiment with the lineup

Christian Vazquez batted second on Thursday. He might be having a career-year but that is still not a sight you’d expect to see. Before Thursday, only 14 of his 1,489 career plate appearances had come in the second spot. Could more experiments be on the way? How about Chris Owings at cleanup? Why not let Devers lead off? There are a ton of fun possibilities.

The Red Sox could face multiple Cy Young candidates

According to FanGraphs, Tampa Bay’s Charlie Morton and Texas’ Lance Lynn and Mike Minor are on the Cy Young award shortlist. Morton is scheduled to pitch against the Red Sox tonight while Minor will be pitching against the Athletics. Lynn has been off since his last outing on Tuesday. Its unclear what the Rangers will do with Minor and Lynn in the next week in terms of rest, but it seems likely that the Sox will face one if not both of them. That’s at least two more opportunities to see some of the best pitchers in baseball, even if they’re on the other team.

This is the last Red Sox baseball you’ll get until next spring

If you don’t take advantage now, then you’ll have to wait all winter to see the Red Sox take the field again. That might seem OK now but it won’t once we’re deep into the winter and counting down the days until spring training.