clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Game 118: Red Sox at Pirates

The push to .500, again

Boston Red Sox v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

You’ve heard it before: the Red Sox just need to get on a roll, get back to .500, then go on towards the playoffs. It’s happened a few times, most notably in June with the beardless Alex Cora. The Sox got a great start out of Nick Pivetta last night but the offense totally disappeared after putting up five fast runs. As the pitching has turned around and gotten healthy, the bats have died off.

Rafeal Devers is hitting .157/.232/.373 in August. Xander Bogaerts is at .253/.308/.410. J.D. Martinez just .196/.269/.239. These are your top three bats. Your stars. Devers is coming off an injury, Bogaerts has been banged up but Martinez is looking like this is the end of the road.

At 34, the DH has fallen off a cliff. Going past traditional stats, the things the made Martinez special in his turnaround after being released by the Houston Astros, things like exit velocity, barrels, home run distance... all at or near career worsts. When J.D. won two Silver Sluggers (still impressive) in 2018 he was 7th in average exit velocity and 2nd in barrels across all of MLB. He was 69th in max home run distance. He was hitting the ball hard. Now the he’s 78th in exit velocity, 21st in barrels (the guy still knows how to hit, he’s just not doing it as much) and 142nd in home run distance.

Tommy Pham though, is picking up some of this slack. In a tremendously tiny sample the newcomer is hitting .281/.305/.526 with the Sox. Considering Jarren Duran was posting a .281 OBP, anything over .300 is a big improvement. Especially with a guy who has a history of getting on base at a good clip. Pham is also 34 but has a $6 million mutual option for 2023 while J.D. would be looking at a qualifying offer of somewhere near $20 million.

The Pirates lineup is hopeully just what Rich Hill needs. After a month on the IL the lefty has made two starts: 3.0 innings, 6 hits, 4 runs, 1 strikeout against the Houston Astros and 4.0 innings, 7 hits, 4 runs, zero strikeouts against the Atlanta Braves. He’s thrown 58 and 68 pitches. After his return to relevance in 2015 at age 36, the 40-year-old is showing some signs that there is a limit to every career. He’s 18 years into his major league career, he’s pitched for 11 teams (I have no recollection of him in Cleveland), and he’s willing to do whatever the Sox need - bullpen or rotation - to win.

Game 118: Red Sox at Pirates

Lineup spot Red Sox Pirates
Lineup spot Red Sox Pirates
1 Tommy Pham, LF Kevin Newman, SS
2 Rafael Devers, 3B Bryan Reynolds, CF
3 Xander Bogaerts, SS Michael Chavis, 1B
4 Alex Verdugo, RF Ben Gamel, RF
5 J.D. Martinez, DH Kevin Padlo, 3B
6 Eric Hosmer, 1B Rodolfo Castro, 2b
7 Christian Arroyo, 2B Greg Allen, LF
8 Reese McGuire, C Bligh Madris, DH
9 Kiké Hernandez, CF Jason Delay, C
SP Rich Hill, LHP Roansy Contreras, RHP