How the Red Sox can not get eliminated so quickly next season


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Hey, last season the Red Sox were eliminated from the postseason with 10 games remaining in the season. This time it was only nine. That's something, right?

Not really.

While expectations heading into 2023 for the Red Sox weren't exactly sky-high, with the universal over-under win total coming out of spring training sitting at 78.5 victories. But certainly if that was the belief within the organization there was something inherently wrong.

The expectation for the Boston Red Sox - with their financial might and built-in assumptions - is that somewhere within the final nine regular season games there is going to be some semblance of hope. Thanks to Wednesday's 15-5 loss to the Rangers, that was officially mathematically ripped from them once again. (For a complete recap of the series-ending disaster in Arlington, Texas, click here.)

Yes, the Red Sox can no longer even be identified as underdogs. The Fangraphs' postseaon odds officially will forever be entrenched at 0.0%. (It's a number that has actually been affixed to the Red Sox since Sept. 15.)

It seems forever ago when people were pushing back on Chaim Bloom's use of the 'U' word, while rolling their eyes at Fangraphs estimation on Aug. 1 that the Red Sox had "just" a 30 percent chance of making the postseason. (That, by the way, was more than double Seattle's chances coming out of the Trade Deadline.)

The 46-game road to this point has resulted in an 18-28 mark, the sixth-fewest wins of any team in baseball. Along the way narratives did an about-face, with the most striking example coming in the form of Bloom's dismissal.

It's fitting that Bleacher Report identified the Red Sox as possessing the No. 3 overall farm system in all of baseball on the day the music died in this 2023 season. It was nice little pat on the back, but it also was surfaced another reality: one of the Sox' greatest losses in the last couple of months has been losing a good chunk of whatever benefit of the doubt the organization was clinging to.

Because the Red Sox' current lot in life with nine games to go, the challenge of making both the beginning of April and the end of September matter has become increasingly difficult.

It can be done. At least the second part.

You have uncovered building blocks, which is a start. Rafael Devers. Triston Casas. Brayan Bello. Jarren Duran. Josh Winckowski. And Potentially Ceddanne Rafaela and Wilyer Abreu. Meanwhile, you have also pieces coming back that can absolutely be more of the solution than the problem. Masa Yoshida. Trevor Story. Alex Verdugo. Connor Wong. Kenley Jansen. Chris Martin. Chris Sale. And a bunch of pitchers that - throughout some uncertainty - represent promise of being part of the fix.

In other words, with a few moves the over-under win total could creep to the mid-80's coming out of next spring training. But in order to manage such a feat the Red Sox are going to have to do what they did with the back-end of their bullpen - invest in some perceived certainty in the starting rotation.

In games the Red Sox' starters went at least five innings, the team's record was 55-35. Just FIVE innings. Get the picture? In case you don't, understand that the starters' inn 2018 managed such a feat 26 more times than this time around, with the Red Sox going 84-32 in such games.

How about the teams the Red Sox are chasing. The Orioles' starters went five or more innings 117 times (79-38). The Blue Jays had 115 such outings (72-41). Even the Rays - a team known for relying on openers - had starters go five or more frames more than the Sox, totaling a club record of 73-25.

The Red Sox firmed up their eighth- and ninth-inning uncertainty with some smart investments. Now it's time to do the same thing with the starters. You simply have to have a rotation whose second-most starts is 21 (Kutter Crawford).

There is a path. But to find it the Red Sox better realize why they have officially come to the end of this road.

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