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Does the Red Sox’s Slump Warrant Hitting The Panic Button?

Red Sox's Slump

At time of writing, the Boston Red Sox have gone 8-8 since the All-Star Break. Now while that record is not necessarily terrible, it also is not good. The Red Sox are in a battle with Tampa Bay for the division lead in the AL East. Boston cannot afford to go .500 for the rest of the season. Does the Red Sox’s slump warrant some concern for the team’s division title hopes?

Inconsistent Play

Red Sox's Slump
Rafael Devers after being struck-out in Tampa Bay. (Via CBS Boston)

Some nights, the Red Sox look as they have been for most of the year. Boston will dominate their opponents on both sides of the plate. Other nights though, it almost looks as though the team had returned to their 2020 woes. What does not help either is that the teams Boston has played in their 16 games since the All-Star break have all been AL East opponents.

On July 19th, Boston beat the Blue Jays 13-4. Just days later, they lost to Toronto at Fenway 13-1. Now single loses aren’t that big of deal in a 162-game season, but during a tight division race, losses to divisional opponents carry significant weight. Following that loss at Fenway, the Red Sox would go Tampa Bay and get swept, losing the division lead. Getting swept by your main division rival does not exactly bode well for a team’s division title chances.

Did The Trade Deadline Hurt Boston?

The trade deadline came on July 30 and the Red Sox had made just three moves. To many fans in Boston, only three moves did not seem satisfying. One issue Boston has had in the last 16 games is starting pitching. While the rotation for Boston has been solid, cracks are starting to show. Runs are being given up at key points, forcing Boston to try and play from behind in some games. And while the team has come back in from deficits in this stretch, they have not been able to comeback from all of them.

The Red Sox hitters have also been in an unusual slump since the All-Star break. One big example of this is one of Boston’s All-Stars, Xander Bogaerts. Since returning from Denver, Bogaerts has a batting average of .205. The Red Sox did of course trade for National’s slugger, Kyle Schwarber, but he is still recovering from injury. The help the Red Sox got still cannot help yet.

Should Boston Be In DEFCON 2?

Getting swept by the Rays does not help Boston’s confidence, but it should not define this Red Sox team. Slumps are unfortunately a part of a 162 game baseball season. The difference between good and bad teams though is how a team reacts to these types of stretches. The reason why this stretch of play for

Red Sox's Slump
LHP Chris Sale at a postgame interview following his rehab start in Worcester. (Via NESN)

Boston is a slump is because this has not been the norm for 2021 Red Sox. The Red Sox have already had similar stretches earlier in the season, and the team came out just fine.

Both Kyle Schwarber and Chris Sale are also expected to play their first 2021 games in Boston uniforms within the next few weeks. The help Boston needs is just around the corner. Boston’s actions at the deadline show that team is confident with where they are at. The Red Sox may not be in first place at this very moment, but that does not mean the title is already Tampa Bay’s. There is absolutely no reason to write off the season after this recent stretch of play.

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