- The Red Sox have a terrifying offense, but is their pitching staff enough to win a title? A rival scout breaks them down.
The Red Sox are looking to win their fourth World Series in the last 14 years. With a new manager and one of the most powerful lineups in the league, how do they match up against the Dodgers? SI.com reached out to a rival MLB scout to break down the Red Sox ahead of their first World Series game in five years.
Everybody was shocked that they knocked off Houston in five, but Boston won 108 games because they do things the right way. It’s a tight-knit group with a deep lineup. They don’t have to beat you with the home run, there are a lot of tough outs and they can hurt you with both sides of the plate, [Manager Alex] Cora has the pulse on the finger in that team and he’s got a great feel for his players.
They were stressing on not being a team that sells out for homers and you’ve got hitters up there. J.D. Martinez isn’t just a power hitter, he uses the whole field. Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi and Brock Holt are guys that all use the entire field. When you’ve got a team that can use the field like that isn’t going to strike out a ton and use the field for homers, you’re going to be challenged. It was so impressive the way they attacked Houston pitchers with short swings and old-school baseball. … Jackie Bradley Jr. had a good second half after struggling in the beginning. They sneak him in the 9-hole of that lineup, it takes pressure off of him and he’s delivered some surprising power. … Their outfield defense is amazing. You’ve got three centerfielders in the outfield. It’s an elite outfield and the best in the game. … Eduardo Nuñez seems like he’s got the yips over there at third despite being reliable over the years. It’s just a matter of which Nuñez shows up. ... If they sneak Rafael Devers toward the bottom of the lineup, man, what a talent he is. He’s got power, and he’s got some holes in his swing, but boy is he a talented player. ... The guy that’s gotta hit is Betts, he hasn’t had a great postseason because he’s been pitched tough, he has to learn not to expand because he’s not gonna get much to hit. If Betts doesn’t hit in this series, they’re in trouble. ... J.D. Martinez is patient, he gets good pitches to hit and stays in the strike zone. He sees the ball well and is such a tough out. He’s been great this postseason.
The Starting Pitching
Nathan Eovaldi has always had great velocity, but now he has a first-pitch curveball to the count, spins the breaking ball in for a strike. He’s becoming more of a pitcher instead of a thrower. He can spin those breaking balls in the strike zone now and that’s the key for him. He makes guys aware because he can throw the offspeed for strikes. It makes the fastball that much better. … Chris Sale is a little bit of concern. He can obviously still pitch, but he’s not the slam dunk he was when he was 95-98 mph. Now he’s operating more around 90-93 mph, it’s more about pitchability. He doesn’t strike fear into the Dodgers with his stuff the way he did when he was throwing 95. … David Price said he found something in that bullpen the day before his great Game 5 start. His stuff was up a tick, a lot more 94 mph fastballs and a lot more life to his pitches. He had more confidence and he clearly found something mechanically. … Rick Porcello is a guy that you can trust. He can pitch and he’s got weapons. He can keep offenses at bay a couple times around. Stuff-wise, he’s the fourth in line. He can be like a Rich Hill. He’ll probably get a quick hook, but he’ll get through the lineup twice.
Cora has done an unbelievable job of using his starters in the eighth inning and using his starters out of the bullpen. Craig Kimbrel is no slam dunk because of how wild he’s been. [Ryan] Brasier has been a nice addition and can handle some high-leverage at-bats. Their bullpen might let them down because there is not one guy to send out there to settle things down. [Matt] Barnes has been good, but is he going to be the guy? This bullpen has some strike zone issues, but Cora has had his finger on the pulse and managed things really efficiently.
What Cora has done with this team is outstanding. Look at the performances from his players and you can tell this is not a coincidence. Look at the way Price pitched in Game 5 and the way Devers performed after getting the start. The starters are clearly willing to pitch out of the bullpen. It’s abundantly clear that the guys respond to him even on a young team. The Dodgers have veterans … Boston has a younger team. I guess Ian Kinsler is there for veteran leadership, but it’s all Cora otherwise. Every button he pushes has worked. He played a long time in the big leagues and then got bench experience with the Astros last year. He knows how to win a World Series, he’s bilingual and a great communicator.. He checks off a lot of boxes of what you look for in a manager today.
The key with Boston is that they don’t have to beat you with the home run and they’ve got so many tough outs in their lineup. They can hurt you with both sides of the plate and can beat you with old-school baseball. I might like the Dodgers’ pitching a little more, but this lineup is so tough.