108 wins and a third straight AL East title. Great, but that’s over. The Boston Red Sox need to do something they haven’t done in 5 years, win in October. Now is not the time to spit the bit as they say and the Sox are going to need their stars to rise the occasion. This 3 from Waaaaay Downtown focuses on the Sox players with the most at stake.
1. David Price
Price has to win, period. One of the highest paid players in baseball has been a dog in the postseason, but is coming off his best year in Boston. The “lefty from Vandy” was electric out of the bullpen a year ago vs Houston but if the Sox are going to advance, Price needs to go 7 innings and shut down offenses.
2. Mookie Betts
When you raise the bar, the bar stays raised. Betts is going to win the MVP for this past season, but if he wants to solidify his position as the best player in the game, he needs a few “Mookie moments” in a deep postseason run. As we continue to look for someone to replace David Ortiz as the next leader of the team, Betts would fit the bill. But legends are forged in October, Ortiz wasn’t Big Pali until after the 2004 postseason.
3. Craig Kimbrel
Dirty Craig makes the list for a couple of reasons, but different from the other two on the list. Kimbrel doesn’t have an extensive postseason history, think about this, can you remember him throwing a single pitch in the playoffs for the Red Sox the last two years. Not his fault of course, but for a player heading into free agency at age 30 and coming off of a three year run in Boston where he posted the highest ERA of his career, a dominant playoff run could do wonders.
As for the team, calling Kimbrel the linchpin of the bullpen is like calling Tom Brady important to the Patriots. The Red Sox bullpen is scorched earth right now, but if they can get to the 9th with the lead, Kimbrel has to deliver, for the team and for himself.