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Boston Red Sox 2018 offense is on a historic pace

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The 2018 Boston Red Sox are, arguably, the best offense in the game. They lead MLB in runs scored with 502. That’s good for a 24 run lead on the second place Houston Astros and 37 ahead of the New York Yankees.

By R/G it’s 5.40, which again leads baseball. The Yankees, who were expected to lead the pack, are second at 5.17 and the Astros come in at 5.09. By virtually any measure, the Red Sox are way ahead of what anyone expected this season given their 2017 output. First in AVG, third in OBP, first in SLG and they come in at a staggering second in HR hit.
That’s staggering because they finished 27th in HR, 26th in SLG and 13th in OBP last season. The offense just wasn’t that good, despite scoring the 10th most runs in baseball. Their base running helped them to outperform their peripherals, but it could only do so much. And that lack of offense certainly hurt them in the playoffs, among other issues.

How did they address their offensive woes? They added one of the best hitters in the game in J.D. Martinez and brought in a new hitting coach in Tim Hyers. Hyers was part of the team of coaches that turned the Los Angeles Dodgers around from 2016 to 2017. They went from a league average team for R/G and HR, and a slightly below league average team for SLG and OBP to one of the better OBP and SLG teams and well above average in HR and R/G.

Red Sox Rumors: Boston aiming high for bullpen help on trade market

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Go big or go home. That’s the mentality Dave Dombrowski often takes to the negotiating table. The Boston Red Sox president of baseball operations has never been shy about making a deal. While the club has identified the bullpen as an area in need of an upgrade, Dombrowski isn’t content with adding depth. He wants a difference maker.

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Red Sox are aiming high in their search of the relief market. The goal is to upgrade on the collection of setup men they currently have rather than complement them.
“They’re not just looking to get an eighth-inning reliever” an evaluator for a competing club told Crasnick. “They’re looking to get a guy. A real guy.”

Boston’s bullpen ranks third in the league with a collective 3.19 ERA, 3.38 FIP, and 4.1 fWAR. The Red Sox already have a strong bullpen yet it’s not enough for a team with World Series aspirations.

Craig Kimbrel is as good as it gets in the ninth inning. Getting the ball to their closer can be an adventure. Joe Kelly is having a solid season as the primary setup man but a horrendous month of June shows he’s still prone to frustrating levels of inconsistency. Matt Barnes has been more effective when he’s given a cushion of 3+ runs to work with. Tyler Thornburg has looked rusty after a year and a half on the shelf.

Dombrowski’s approach to the trade deadline may be with an eye on the future. Kimbrel will be a free agent this winter and it will take a small fortune to re-sign him. That’s money that could be allocated elsewhere down the line when the Red Sox will have higher priorities to lock up. Adding a top reliever not only gives Boston a two-headed monster to finish games, it potentially gives them Kimbrel’s replacement.

Who can they target?
Crasnick mentions that the Red Sox sent a top evaluator to watch Kyle Barraclough. The Miami Marlins closer would fit the profile for what they need but may not be a realistic target. The price will be sky high for a pitcher the Marlins seem reluctant to move. Barraclough has been outstanding but the Red Sox have to be mindful of how he would hold up under the intensity of a pennant race in Boston. It’s not quite the same as pitching in half-empty stadiums down in Miami.
The Red Sox have also shown interest in Colorado Rockies closer Wade Davis. He’s in the first year of a $52 million contract that he signed last winter. Davis leads the NL in saves but has otherwise had a subpar season with a 4.04 ERA and 4.8 BB/9. They also asked about setup man Adam Ottavino, who has pitched much better than Davis but is a free agent after this season. Colorado is only 4.5 games out in the NL West and in the thick of the Wild Card race. They aren’t likely to sell, barring a complete collapse this month.

Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale finishes off first half with dominant start vs. Rangers

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BOSTON -- If his recent stretch is the best of his career, Chris Sale doesn't want to jinx it by talking about it.

"It's a pretty funny game," Sale said Wednesday night. "Anytime you feel like you're on top of the world, you get knocked right out."

Sale is on top of the world right now, having been dominant in his last seven starts for the Red Sox by posting an 0.94 ERA while striking out 78 batters. Wednesday night was no different, as he held the Rangers in check for seven scoreless innings, allowing just six hits while striking out 12.

Sale has struck out at least 11 batters in each of his past five outings, and as Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald noted, his 13.1 K/9 is the second-highest K/9 rate before the All-Star break in baseball history. Sale isn't just getting hitters out. He's making them look foolish.

The concern about Sale is never how he'll do in the first half, as he's always a candidate to start the All-Star game this time of year and has the last two seasons. But his August struggles a year ago changed things for the Red Sox this year, and, under new manager Alex Cora, they're being a little more careful with Sale.

A later All-Star break means Sale has actually thrown more innings (129) in the unofficial first half of this season than last (127.2), but those numbers don't tell the story. Through 20 starts last year, Sale threw 141.1 innings. Through the same number of outings this year, he has thrown just 120.

"You've got to give him credit because he has been disciplined," Cora said. "What we've wanted to do since Day 1 of spring training, is discipline. He bought into it, he believes in it. We've been able to steal a few innings and pitches here and there."

Sale now faces a long layoff, with his spot in the rotation coming up Monday, the first day of the All-Star break. While he's a lock to pitch (and possibly) start Monday, he'll still have significant time off before start no. 21.
"We've got a little bit of time now," Sale said. "I think my next start would fall on Monday, so I do have an extended time. I'll try to obviously recover for a little bit. I'm still gonna get my work in because I don't want to sit on my butt for eight days and get all locked up. Just try to be smart and limit the throws in the next few days. I'll bounce back ready for the second half."

With the coaching staff in the middle of discussions on how the rotation will look following the break, Sale might be pushed back to the middle or end of the group in an effort to give him even more rest. With a playoff spot all but locked up for the league-leading Red Sox, it doesn't make much sense to push Sale early in the second half and have to worry about him in October.

For now, Sale is on a level few have ever reached. And the Red Sox, despite taking him along slowly, are reaping the benefits.

"For whatever he says that he doesn't know what's going on and just wants to give us the chance to win, he's a proud individual," Cora said. "He told me after the game that he felt good tonight."

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