After the Boston Red Sox swept the Baltimore Orioles earlier this week, they officially punched their ticket into the postseason. They are going to the playoffs in back to back seasons for the first time since 2008-2009. If they win the division, it will be the first time that the Red Sox have won back-to-back divisional titles in over 100 years! In this article, I will take a look at two players that will be very important for the Red Sox this postseason.
The first player is starting pitcher Chris Sale. After being traded from the Chicago White Sox in the offseason, there were some worries that Sale would take a while to get used to Fenway Park and get adjusted to the new team. Those worries went away pretty face, as Chris Sale is having arguably his best season of his career, with the Cy Young award close to his grasp.
He has already set a career high with 300 strikeouts (and counting), becoming the first Red Sox pitcher with 300 strikeouts since Pedro Martinez had 313 back in 1999, his second Cy Young winning season. Sale can still catch him, as he is slated to make at least one more start, possibly two.
But all those strikeouts won’t matter to Red Sox fans until he can prove himself in the postseason. This will be Chris Sale’s first postseason appearance, so he will have to look at other pitchers on the staff on how to handle playoff situations. If he can continue pitching like he has all season, then the Red Sox will be in great shape when he steps onto the mound.
The other player who will have to be at his best for the postseason is shortstop Xander Bogaerts. Last year, Xander was an All-Star and Silver Slugger winner after having a phenomenal offensive season. He has not hit as well this year, becoming very streaky at times, which has caused some concern for Red Sox Nation.
In last year’s short postseason run, he had three singles and four strikeouts in the three games the Red Sox played. That is not how a silver slugger should be hitting in the postseason. When he is hitting well, the whole team plays well and rallies around his energy a lot. If the Red Sox want to succeed in the playoffs this season, they will need to see Xander swinging a big bat.
As a bonus, I am going to throw in a third key player for the postseason. Since moving to the bullpen, David Price has seemed more comfortable and relaxed when he is on the mound. He has pitched twice out of the bullpen, throwing 4.2 innings while only giving up three hits, one walk, and six strikeouts. If Price stays in this role for the postseason, and can provide strong relief out of the bullpen, then this Red Sox team can really succeed in the playoffs.
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