Where Red Sox stand in Wild Card race heading into final stretch of regular season

Following a three-game sweep of the lowly Orioles at Fenway Park over the weekend, the Red Sox find themselves in an encouraging spot heading into the home stretch of the 2021 regular season.

Having won five straight and seven of their last 10 games, the Sox have improved to 86-65 on the year and currently hold a one-game lead over the Blue Jays (84-65) for the top American League Wild Card spot.

So, if the season were to have ended on Sunday night, Boston would be hosting Toronto in a one-game playoff come October 5. But the season did not end on Sunday, as the Red Sox still have 11 games remaining on the docket.

Of those 11 games, the next five will take place at home with the Mets coming into town for a two-game interleague series that begins on Tuesday and the Yankees visiting for a three-game weekend set that begins on Friday.

Following the conclusion of next weekend’s series with New York, the Sox will embark upon a six-game road trip that includes stops in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. to close out the season.

With that being said, strength of schedule plays into Boston’s favor here. Of the four teams they will be playing over the next two weeks, only the Yankees (83-67) have a winning record — though none of the four teams would have qualified for the postseason if the regular season had ended on Sunday.

According to Tankathon.com, the Red Sox have the third-easiest schedule in baseball and the easiest schedule in the American League the rest of the way, as the four clubs they will be facing off against have a combined winning percentage of .437. Only the Phillies (.407) and Reds (.419) have easier remaining schedules.

As of Monday morning, FanGraphs gives the Sox an 89.7% chance to make the playoffs, which is up dramatically from where it was at this time one week ago (63.2%).

Baseball-Reference, on the other hand, currently gives the Red Sox an 85.9% chance to make the playoffs after giving them a 71.4% chance just last week.

Of the five teams competing for the two American League Wild Card spots, the Sox are the only club that is off on Monday. The Blue Jays will be opening up a three-game series against the division-leading Rays at Tropicana Field, the Yankees will be opening up a three-game series against the lowly Rangers in the Bronx, and the Athletics and Mariners commence a pivotal four-game series in Oakland.

Taking all that into consideration, the Red Sox at best can carry with them a 1 1/2 game lead over the Jays for the top Wild Card spot coming into play on Tuesday. At worst, it could be just a 1/2 game lead.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo, Enrique Hernandez, and Hunter Renfroe: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)


Red Sox’ Kiké Hernández earns American League Player of the Week honors

Red Sox utility man Kiké Hernández has been named the American League Player of the Week for the week of July 19-25, Major League Baseball announced Monday.

Hernández becomes the second member of the Red Sox to earn AL Player of the Week honors this season, joining J.D. Martinez — who did so in early April.

On the National League side of things, Dodgers utility man Chris Taylor — a former teammate of Hernández — was the recipient of Player of the Week honors after he posted an OPS of 1.433 in seven games against the Giants and Rockies.

In six games against the Blue Jays and Yankees this past week, Hernández went 10-for-25 (.400/.448/1.000) at the plate with four doubles, one triple, three home runs, nine RBI, and eight runs scored over 29 plate appearances while playing second base, shortstop, and center field.

The 29-year-old began his week with his first multi-homer game of the year in Buffalo, then came through in the clutch on more than one occasion at Fenway Park while the Yankees were in town.

On Thursday, with his side down to their final out and trailing 3-1 in the late stages of the ninth inning, Hernández laced a game-tying, two-run double off the Green Monster that scored both Alex Verdugo and Jarren Duran to knot things up at three runs a piece and set the Red Sox off for a walk-off 5-4 win in the 10th.

On Sunday, Hernández took center stage in the eighth inning of Boston’s dramatic come-from-behind victory over New York, as he ripped an RBI double off Yankees reliever Zack Britton that brought in Christian Vazquez to cut the Sox’ deficit down to one run and later scored what would turn out to be the winning run on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Xander Bogaerts.

Including what he has done over his last six games, Hernández is now slashing .244/.322/.467 (111 wRC+) to go along with 14 home runs and 39 RBI over 84 total games (357 plate appearances) in his first season with the Red Sox.

Hernández, who signed a two-year, $14 million deal with Boston in February, has proven to be a valuable component of what the club is trying to accomplish in 2021 and beyond.

Coming into play on Monday, the right-handed hitter out of Puerto Rico ranks 20th among qualified American League position players in fWAR (2.4) while leading all AL center fielders in Defensive Runs Saved (12), per FanGraphs.

The fact that Hernández has been as solid as he has been at center field this season speaks to just how versatile he is, as he originally signed with the Sox to be the club’s everyday second baseman.

That being said, Hernández — who turns 30 in late August — will make just his second start and fifth overall appearance at shortstop in place of Xander Bogaerts in Monday’s series opener against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park.

First pitch between the 61-39 Red Sox and 49-46 Blue Jays is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Kiké Hernández: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez named American League Player of the Week

Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez has been named American League Player of the Week for the week of April 5-11, Major League Baseball announced Monday.

Over the course of five games against the Rays and Orioles this past week, Martinez slashed a sizzling .458/.500/1.125 with four home runs and 13 RBI.

The 33-year-old slugger missed one of his team’s six games as a result of being placed on the COVID-19 related injured list on Saturday, but that absence would wind up being very short.

Returning to Boston’s lineup for their series finale against Baltimore on Sunday, Martinez went 4-for-6 at the plate while clubbing three home runs, collecting four RBI, and scoring four times.

By capping off his weekend with that dominant performance at Camden Yards, the three-time All-Star became just the fifth player in major-league history to put together a three-homer game for three different teams (Tigers, Diamondbacks, Red Sox).

Taking this past weekend’s showing into consideration, Martinez now owns a slash line of .472/.500/1.083 to go along with five home runs and 16 RBI through his first eight games and 38 plate appearances of the young season.

“He’s locked in, you can tell,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Martinez’s torrid start. “He is walking around talking hitting. This is a guy I saw in ‘18 and ‘19, he has an idea of what he wants to do. He doesn’t deviate from his process. I know he talked about last year and he’s on a mission to prove people wrong, but it was only 60 games. He was one month away from getting his numbers right. Right now, he’s locked in and I’m glad he’s swinging the bat the way he is.”

For as dismal a 2020 campaign Martinez had (.680 OPS in 54 games), the first week-plus of the 2021 season has been encouraging to say the least.

Despite the record-setting start in which he has recorded an extra-base hit in eight straight games, though, Martinez himself tries not to pay too much attention to it.

“Honestly, for me, I don’t even notice it. I really try not to,” he said on Sunday. “You guys know how I am. I repeat the same things over and over to you guys. I think the moment you’re aware of it, you’re no longer in it. So I try to not be aware of it and just focus on the small tasks. Focus on my game plan off certain pitchers and what I’m trying to do. That’s how I kind of control the whole thing.”

Martinez taking home American League Player of the Week honors marks the first time a member of the Red Sox has done so since Rafael Devers in August 2019.

On the National League side of things, Padres right-hander Joe Musgrove was the recipient of Player of the Week honors after throwing the first no-hitter in franchise history against the Rangers on Friday.

(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Brandon Workman Named American League Reliever of the Month for September

Red Sox right-hander Brandon Workman was named American League Reliever of the Month for the month of September on Monday afternoon.

The 31-year-old wrapped up a stellar season by posting a 0.00 ERA and .326 OPS against over his final 12 appearances and 11 1/3 innings pitched of the year.

On the 2019 campaign as a whole, Workman really did break out in a tremendous way, posting an ERA of 1.88, xFIP of 3.33, batting average against of .123, and fWAR of 2.1 over a career-high 73 outings and 71 2/3 total innings of relief.

From not even being on the World Series roster less than 12 full months ago to becoming one of, if not the most reliable reliever out of the Sox’ bullpen. 2019 was quite the year for Brandon Workman, and he will likely be rewarded with a sizable raise in his final season of arbitration because of it.

Rafael Devers Is Your American League Player of the Week

Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers has been named American League Player of the Week for August 12th through the 18th.

The 22-year-old put together quite the week at the plate against the Cleveland Indians and Baltimore Orioles, slashing .593/.633/1.185 with 10 extra-base hits, three of which being home runs, and 11 RBI over his last six games.

That stretch included a run of eight straight hits that began with a six-hit, four-double performance in Cleveland on Tuesday, marking the first time since at least 1908 that a major leaguer had achieved that feat, and extended into Wednesday.

Against the Orioles on Sunday, Devers became the first big leaguer this season to surpass the century mark in RBI with a two-run homer, his 27th, in the seventh inning of a 13-7 victory.

On the 2019 campaign as a whole, Devers leads American League third baseman in games played (123), runs scored (103), runs driven in (101), slugging percentage (.575), and is tied with Houston’s Alex Bregman atop the fWAR leaderboards (5.5).

2019 has certainly been a breakout year for Devers to say the least. In what is only his second full season in the majors, the breakout star appears to be a lock to finish in the top three for American League Most Valuable Player voting in the fall.