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Can the Sox Make a Second Half Push?

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We've almost reached July and the Red Sox sit at 43-42 just 1 week away from the All-Star break. This season was projected to be a down year for the Sox so this result isn't too surprising, but last place in the AL East is never good for Beantown.

The Good

Through 81 games so far this season the Red Sox hitting stats are very good. In the AL, they rank 4th in runs, 5th in Hits and OPS (on-base percentage + slugging), 5th in strikeouts and 6th in walks, they're leading the league in doubles but rank towards the bottom of the pennant in home runs. Even though this is one of the weaker lineups the Sox have put out in recent years, the batting for contact has been exceptional holding an MLB rank of 8th in on-base percentage and 9th in batting average.

The quartet of Rafael Devers, Alex Verdugo, Justin Turner and Masataka Yoshida have been stellar this year, with OPS's of .807, .841, .785 and .827 respectively. Jarren Duran is also in the midst of a breakout season adding a .788 OPS with 21 doubles as well.

Getting contributions from players new to the roster has been huge this year. Players such as Justin Turner and Masataka Yoshida and James Paxton have been certainly earning their contracts this season. Other pleasant surprises this year include Rob Refsnyder whose OBP is a team-leading .387, Brayan Bello has a 3.08 ERA through 13 games started and again, Jarren Duran's breakout season which hasalmost come with a perfect fielding percentage in Center Field.

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The Bad

Did you notice that there was almost nothing said about pitching in "The Good" part? That was intentional. The Red Sox pitching has been bottom-5 in MLB in run prevention and has similar numbers in hit-prevention. The only top-15 stat the Sox currently have is limiting walks, where they rank 7th in the league.

Brayan Bello and James Paxton have been the best starters for the Sox this season. Paxton on the season has a 2.70 ERA and 4-1 record on 9 starts with 10.98 K/9, while Bello has a respectable 3.08 ERA in 13 starts. The rest of the starting pitching staff has over a 4.50 ERA in starts this season, with 10 different pitchers taking the mound.

On the other side of the plate, there hasn't been too much to complain about except for Kike Hernandez season at bat and the team's overall lack of home runs ranking 21st in the league.

Most of the Sox pithcing woes can be helped if players like Sale and Kluber are able to come back. The Red Sox rank 24th in hits allowed , 23rd in home runs allowed and 21st in ERA, so if pitchers can return from injury and a few others can turn it around, this team could make a push in the second half.

The Injuries

The 2023 season was one marred by injury to key starters from the beginning. Starters including James Paxton, Trevor Story and many more. Unfortunately, the season hasn't been too kind to the boys so far and has led to many injuries especially around key pitching. Starting pitchers Chris Sale, Corey Kluber and Tanner Houck have no timetable for their return currently, while relief pitchers John Schreiber, Richard Bleier and Zack Kelly also have no timetable for coming back.

Trevor Story has yet to make an appearance in the show since September of 2022 and is questionable to return at all this year. Reese McGuire has also had a decent season as the backup catcher until his oblique injury last Wednesday that's set to have him miss a couple more weeks of action as well.

As I'm writing this article, Garrett Whitlock had to leave last night's game in the first inning with elbow soreness. Whitlock is not in the middle of a good season with a 5.23 ERA in 51.2 innings but was one of the last starting pitchers the Red Sox planned for this year not to be on the IL.

On a more promising note, over the last week Chris Sale has been given the okay to start a pitching program to get himself ready fro the second half of the year and Trevor Story has starting live batting practices as well.

Looking Forward

The Red Sox have the Rangers and Athletics coming to town before a well-deserved all-star break where only reliever Kenley Jansen will be making an appearance.

The Red Sox have been hanging around .500 all season with terrible injury woes, but may be getting healthy at the right time with several impact players looking to hit the field by August 1st. With 2 more months of baseball after that, the Red Sox season isn't even close to being over yet.

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