So there's no doubt August was a bad month for Red Sox baseball. Lots of ugliness all around, and to top it all off the team is now dealing with a COVID-outbreak. But hey, despite all that, the Red Sox so far are undefeated in September! Don't let them get hot!
Anyways, even with a lot of guys missing due to being on the COVID-IL the shorthanded Red Sox just took two in a row against the Rays on the road and salvaged a split despite how terribly the first two games went. While there's clearly still flaws with the team that probably won't get solved the rest of this season, I think the past few days have shown that this team is still a good team and a resilient one. Doesn't mean they are World Series contenders, but I still believe they are a playoff team.
FanGraphs currently gives the Red Sox about an 81% chance of making the playoffs. I feel that's actually pretty accurate even with how the past 5-6 weeks have gone for the team. It sucks that teams like the Rays and Yankees have just passed Boston and also built some distance, but at the same time it seems none of Oakland, Seattle and Toronto have really capitalized in trying to take the 2nd wild card spot. The Red Sox are also still just 1.5 games back of the Yankees for the 1st wild card spot so it's not a foregone conclusion that the wild card game will definitely be played at the Bronx. I still think it will though.
In September, the Red Sox do have a few tough series left against teams like the Rays and Yankees, but they also have a handful of games against mediocre teams (Baltimore, Washington, etc.). Therefore, I predict in the final 26 games, the Red Sox will go 16-10 and finish with a 93-69 record and the 2nd wild card spot.
As the Red Sox start getting guys back from the COVID-IL, I think that'll provide a spark for sure, and I also think the Sox will start beating up on the mediocre teams again. I mean, they did win 3 straight series before the recent Rays series, and weren't too far off from sweeping a few of those series (like the Twins and Indians ones). We're also starting to see the team use a bit of an unconventional approach in certain situations, like having Richards as a "super reliever" out of the bullpen to try and secure wins which at this point of the season matter a ton.
In the AL, the Rays will finish with the best record while the Astros and White Sox win their divisions. The Yankees finish with 95 wins and the 1st wild card spot. And I'll say this.... I predict the Red Sox beat the Yankees in the wild card game! Then lose to the Rays in the ALDS.
Here's my rough outline of how I think October goes (subject to change):
AL Wild Card Game: Red Sox > Yankees
ALDS: Rays > Red Sox in 4
ALDS: Astros > White Sox in 5
ALCS: Astros > Rays in 6
NL Wild Card Game: Giants > Reds
NLDS: Dodgers > Giants in 5
NLDS: Brewers > Braves in 4
NLCS: Brewers > Dodgers in 6 (upset)
I predict a Brewers - Astros World Series. I know people talk a ton about the Dodgers, Giants and even Padres in the NL, but the Brewers are actually only a few games behind the Dodgers and Giants in the standings and they are having a great season too. I feel they are underrated. I also think kind of like how the Buccaneers and Lightning seemed to feed off each other in Tampa for recent championships, the Brewers can feed off the Milwaukee Bucks winning the NBA Finals recently and reach the World Series. Yeah, it seems the Dodgers are the heavy favorite but as we've seen, upsets can definitely happen in the playoffs. I also feel despite how good the White Sox have been, there's something about them that just makes me think they'll choke early in the playoffs (kind of like some recent AL Central teams who have great regular seasons but then are early exits).
I'm not willing to already predict a World Series winner yet, and there's obviously still a lot of regular season baseball left hence the "subject to change" line above. But this is my outlook on things as of September 3, 2021. Probably a bit optimistic for Boston but I still think this is a good team that could have a great September which hopefully carries into parts of October.