Red Sox Road Ahead: Week 8

Red Sox Road Ahead: Week 8

(Patrick previews the week ahead for the Red Sox each and every week. Start your week off right and read everything you need to know for the games ahead.)

Note: Stats are accurate prior to Monday’s games. Game times are EST and pitching match-ups are subject to change.

Rapid Recap

Boston Red Sox
24-21
4th in AL East (2.5 GB)

The Sox didn’t much better than my expectations by winning all three series last week, including a sweep of the Twins and should of swept the Yankees (that’s what I get for writing posts before games are completely done.)

At bat…

Big Papi won't fade into the sunset just yet. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Maybe Dice-K should wield a bat more often, a quick look at batting leaders for the past two weeks puts him on top going 1 for 2. However the real story we have to look at is the resurgence of Big Papi. As Red Sox nation slowly accepts the fate that Big Papi just isn’t Big Papi anymore, he’s still proving to be a source of power with 4 HRs the past 14 days raising his total to 8 for the season. Now a .248 and a career high 34.5% K rate hints to me that he’s still hacking and the career high percentage of swings outside the strike zone confirms it.

His batted ball numbers look a tad better than his 54 HR 2006 campaign- but I’m not saying he’s anywhere close to that. All it tells me is that we can’t say he’s totally through but needs to be embraced in those platoon situations like I mention in earlier previews.

On The Mound…

Jonathan Papelbon blew the first game of the Yankees series but came back the next night to close the door for a save. Should we be worried?  A little bit.

All of his numbers are at career lows, including a mundane 6.75 K rate, 4.5 walk rate, and 1.35 HR/9 rate. What really concerns me is that while a 3.15 ERA doesn’t look too bad- his BABIP is a career low .210 which tells me that there’s a bit of luck in play here. I’m curious to see how long he can maintain this performance before the bottom totally drops out.

Schedule and Opponents

Red Sox games are available over the radio on the WEEI Red Sox Radio Network and on NESN in the New England TV market (unless noted.)

Monday, May 24 @ Rays 7:10 PM (also on ESPN)

Tuesday, May 25 @ Rays 7:10 PM

Wednesday, May 26 @ Rays 7:10 PM

Thursday, May 27 vs Royals 7:10 PM

Friday, May 28 vs Royals 7:10 PM

Saturday, May 29 vs Royals 7:10 PM

Sunday, May 30 vs Royals 1:35 PM

Tampa Bay TV: SunSports/Bay 9

Kansas City TV: FSKC-HD

Pitching Match-Ups

Monday, May 24

Rays: Wade Davis, RHP (4-3, 3.35)

Davis is another shining example of how deep the Rays rotation is. In his last start against the Yankees he gave up only 2 ER over 5.2 IP with 7 Ks. As long as he can keep the walks down he’ll be a formidable opponent.

Red Sox: Clay Buchholz, RHP (5-3, 3.26)

Clay had 7Ks in his last start as well going 8 strong innings against the Twins. In his last start against the Rays he fanned 7 as well and didn’t give up an earned run- but still got saddled with the loss.

Tuesday, May 25

Rays: James Shields, RHP (5-1, 3.08)

Shields is highly underrated as the Rays’ ace. He currently has 17 Ks over the last two starts including a 7.1 inning effort against the Yankees. I don’t know what’s up with the number 7 because that’s also how many Sox batters he struck out in his last start against Boston.

Red Sox: Jon Lester, LHP (4-2, 3.47)

Lester is also heating up after pitching a complete game win against the Twins where he struck out 9- and that’s lower than the 10 Ks he got before that against Detroit. Expect this to be a very challenging match-up, possibly the match-up of the week if not the Greinke match-up this weekend.

Wednesday, May 26

Rays: Matt Garza, RHP (5-2, 2.37)

Garza has gone 7+ innings in 6 of his 9 starts this season and is pitching at an ace-level right now. He shut out the Sox over 8 innings last time he faced the team.

Red Sox: John Lackey, RHP (4-3, 5.07)

Lackey got touched up for four runs and gave up 2 HRs against Philadelphia, last time he faced Tampa Bay he left the game after 3.1 innings and 8 earned runs. This match-up won’t end well for us.

Thursday, May 27

Royals: Brian Bannister, RHP (3-3, 4.73)

In his last start he went 7.2 innings and only gave up 2 earned runs against the Rockies. However underwhelming dominance explains the 3-3 record.

Red Sox: Daisuke Matsuzaka, RHP (3-1, 5.76)

Wait a minute. Dice-K flirted with a no hitter over eight innings of one-hit ball? The four walks and only five Ks however tell me that it might have been more defense than pitching. Still not changing my stance on him.

Friday, May 28

Royals: Kyle Davies, RHP (3-3, 4.53)

When 3-3 makes you one of the better pitchers on a team it’s not a good sign. However in his past starts against Boston and TB he’s only given at worst 3 earned runs.

Red Sox: Tim Wakefield, RHP (1-2, 4.44)

With Josh Beckett on the DL, Wakefield is back in the rotation and shutout the Phillies this past weekend with that knuckle ball. Let’s hope he can make it 2 in a row.

Saturday, May 29

Royals: Zack Greinke, RHP (1-5, 3.57)

It's gotta be tough when you don't get much support from your team. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

He’s one of the top pitchers in baseball and he’s only 1-5. That’s the downside of playing in Kansas City. Last time he played Boston he gave up 4 earned runs over 6.2 innings in a loss- so perhaps we can get to him after all.

Red Sox: Clay Buchholz, RHP (5-3, 3.26)

Sunday, May 30

Royals: Gil Meche, RHP (0-4, 6.75)

Red Sox: Jon Lester, LHP (4-2, 3.47)

Opponents In-Depth

Tampa Bay Rays
32-12
1st in AL East

Probable Line-Up

Jason Bartlett, SS
Carl Crawford, LF
Ben Zobrist, RF
Evan Longoria, 3B
Carlos Pena, 1B
BJ Upton, CF
Hank Blalock/Willy Aybar
, DH
Dioner Navarro
/John Jaso, C
Reid Brignac/Sean Rodriguez, 2B

Injuries

Kelly Shoppach, C (Knee) 15-day DL. Out until at least early June

J.P. Howell, RP (Shoulder) 15-day DL. Out for the season

Matt Joyce, LF (Elbow) 15-day DL. On Class A rehab assignment

Who’s Hot

Ben Zobrist: .435 BA/2 HR/10 RBI past two weeks

Who’s Not

B.J. Upton: .182 BA/15 K/7 SB past two weeks

Kansas City Royals
18-27
4th in AL Central (8.5 GB)

Probable Line-Up

Scott Podsednik, LF
Mike Aviles, 2B
David DeJesus, RF
Billy Butler, 1B
Jose Guillen, DH
Alberto Callaspo, 3B
Mitch Maier, CF
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS
Jason Kendall, C

Injuries

Rick Ankiel, CF (Quadriceps) 15-day DL. Out until at least late May

John Parrish, RP (Shoulder) 15-day DL. Out until at least late May

Josh D. Fields, 3B (Hip) 60-day DL. Out for the season

Henry Barrera, RP (Hamstring, elbow) 60-day DL. Out until at least late June

Who’s Hot

Alberto Callaspo: .360 BA/2 HR/11 RBI past two weeks

Who’s Not

Chris Getz: .222 BA past two weeks

My Outlook

Three against the Rays? I say we go 1-2. Four against the Royals? I say we got 3-1 which makes it 4-2  for the week.

How do you think the Sox are going to fare this week? Leave them in the comments or let Patrick know on Twitter: @DMBosstone



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