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No need for Red Sox to panic yet

Posted by Andrew Mooney  September 13, 2011 10:30 AM

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David Ortiz says it’s time to panic. I say, hold on a minute, David.

Your team still holds a three-game advantage over the Tampa Bay Rays in the wild card; that’s one fewer than the distance separating you and the Yankees, in case you forgot. Or have you given up on that race, even with three head-to-head matchups remaining?

Speaking of the Yankees, they may end up easing your current fears. Of the Rays’ 17 remaining games, seven will be played against New York. Seven of your last 16 come against Baltimore— currently 30 games under .500.

No doubt, your starting rotation is cringe-worthy at the moment. Outside of Jon Lester, no one scheduled to take the hill in the next week has an ERA under five. But Josh Beckett could be back by the time Tampa comes to Fenway, and there’s not an offense in the majors capable of carrying substandard pitching the way yours is. You’ve earned John Lackey 12 wins, for crying out loud.

You’re in a funk, you say. You’ve lost nine of your last eleven, while the Rays have won eight of 10. Actually, this could be just as much a source of comfort as a cause for alarm. Simple probabilities indicate that neither team is likely to continue at such a rate for the remainder of the season; that’s just the nature of streaks. Need evidence? You started the season 2-10.

You’ve got a 10-game homestand coming (winning percentage at Fenway: .592), while the Rays will be away for their next 11 (winning percentage on the road: .557).

According to Baseball Prospectus, you’ve got a 97 percent chance of making the playoffs. You’re much more likely to win the division over the Yankees than to lose the wild card to the Rays.

These are hardly reasons to panic, David. The pitching staff is a problem, but it’s one that should be of more concern in October, against the best of the American League, than in September, against the Orioles and Blue Jays, with a 3.5 game lead. As long as the rotation can keep you in games, your best bet is to relax and play baseball. It’s no accident your team has made it this far.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Stats Driven is powered by David Sabino, who over the last two decades has been a source of statistical analysis on the pages of Sports Illustrated, New York Times, and Chicago Tribune. David has written about all seven recent Boston-area championships for Sports Illustrated Presents commemorative issues, was the creator of such long time features as SI’s Player Value Ranking, NBA Player Rating and long running fantasy football and baseball columns.

He has also authored or made contributions to many books, including the Sports Illustrated’s 100 Fenway: A Fascinating First Century.

Now living in Marblehead, he’s focusing his attention on the Boston sports scene, specifically delving into the numbers affecting the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins, with the goal of informing and entertaining real fans. You can follow him on Twitter at @SabinoSports.

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