The Red Sox have only played 28 games this season, so we’re still in the early portion of the schedule. The issue is that these games count the same in the standings as any other in the regular season, and you can’t return losses. Boston has 18 of those thus far, putting themselves in sole possession of last place in the American League East, with the third-worst record in the league. Things have been bad, some of it wonky luck but most of it just bad baseball and poor situational hitting. So even though it is still technically early in the year, it’s hard not to feel a sense of urgency (as a fan; apparently not so much as a player given the way they’re still playing) about this team. With that in mind, for the staff roundtable this week I asked the staff to alter some of their preseason predictions. (For comparison, here is our preseason prediction roundtable from last month.)
I am a little less bullish on the Red Sox than I was weeks ago — not completely out but unconvinced so far. Yeah I know, it’s early and I probably shouldn’t read too much into a 24-game sample size (Ed. note: These are written throughout the week.) but here I am doing just that. The pitching has been better than I expected, but the offense has been extremely disappointing. My biggest concern has been their inability to put up crooked numbers — something I think they’ll need desperately as the pitching regresses back to the mean. As a team, the Red Sox have gone to bat in 221 innings and in just eight of them have they scored more than two runs. I expected them to sit inside of that 90-95 win range and I think they will fall short of that mark. They will certainly compete for a Wild Card spot but whether they’ll actually make it into the field, however, is much more unclear to me now.
After this first month or so of the season, I genuinely do not have hope for the Sox to finish anywhere above a close fourth. I hope I’m wrong, but the lack of depth in their starting pitching and bullpen alike has manifested itself in a nasty way, as evidenced by Wednesday night’s 10-inning loss against the Angels. With this, I’d have to picture the Sox finishing with some sort of barely over .500 record, probably around 85-77. This has changed since my beginning of the season outcome because although I expected not much short of mediocrity from both the bullpen and starting staff, it had been worse than that. And to add on, the offense has fallen asleep recently, especially in times of need. Hopefully, Story can get hot, Devers and Bogaerts can maintain their heat in the lineup, and supporting characters like Bobby Dalbec and Enrique Hernández can find their swings once again.
If I divorce myself from my fanhood, I feel pretty good about my prediction for the Red Sox this season. I had them pegged for 83 wins and a fourth-place finish, although we didn’t give standings predictions, so doubt me as you wish. Regardless, if anything, I’d shrink my projected win total a little for the team, but in general, I still feel about the same as I did before the season started with maybe a touch less optimism. I still think this is a decent team with major flaws that will hover around .500 most of the season and come far short of the playoffs. But once Triston Casas gets called up, all bets are off.
A couple of weeks ago I thought a high 80s win total sounded about right. Now I’m thinking low 80s. This start has been awful, but the offense is still too good for the team to be this bad for the whole season. They’ll go on a run at some point and rattle off like 10-12 wins in a row and close the gap some but they won’t be able to reverse all the damage.
During our season preview podcast episode of The Red Seat Podcast, I landed on 91 wins for the 2022 Red Sox. Starting play on Friday, in the remaining 136 games, the Red Sox would have to go 81-55 to reach this number. I’ll have to dig deep to find optimism of that kind. Entering the season, I expected a lineup that should be in the top five in all of baseball, an improved defense, and a rotation that should tread water early and eventually be a strength if a healthy Chris Sale returned in early June. My two biggest concerns were the bullpen (multiple arms short) and the lack of a fourth outfielder rather than play Christian Arroyo out of position (again). The roster felt incomplete, and I kept holding out for a late add that never came. These concerns have come to fruition but the inability to win close games has been unexpected and maddening. Roster moves are in motion, names like Franchy Cordero and Jarren Duran have been called up, but until a surefire closer is in town my expectations are waning by the day. I landed on 84-78 for an updated record which would likely be short of a wild card spot in the competitive American League in 2022.
I put the Red Sox at 88 wins and I’m sticking with it. The team so far hasn’t performed as we expected but the bats haven’t really clicked and these guys are talented. The starting pitching has been solid and the bullpen has had a few meltdowns. May will be slanted towards home games and that might help kickstart things. 88 wins isn’t a huge ask, it just might not be enough this year, although the expanded postseason could put that back into play.
Before the season started, I predicted that the Red Sox would go 90-72 as a Wild Card team. After watching them fall to 10-17 on Friday night, I now believe the Red Sox will win somewhere in the range of 78-83 games and miss out on the postseason entirely. As was the case in 2019, I still think the Red Sox can play better baseball down the stretch and finish at or a few games over .500 by season’s end. It’s hard to view them as a playoff team at the moment, but a .500 team? I could see it happening.
Prior to the season, I pegged this team as an 85-win team that would finish out of the playoffs and in fourth place in the division, but one that would stick around in the Wild Card race for basically the entire season. I still find it hard to believe the offense will be anywhere near as bad as it’s been to this point in the year, but my issue is I also have a hard time believing the starting pitching will be as good as it’s been moving forward. If/When things start to even out as I expect, I think it’ll skew more towards the positive so they won’t be this bad all year. Even they play at an 85-win pace the rest of the way they’ll be a .500 team, so I’ll predict slightly below that and say they finish with 79 wins.