The Boston Red Sox are 92-60, have a nine game lead in the American League East, and are on the cusp of clinching not only the division but the American League’s best record and home-field advantage as well. This also means they would play the prevailing team of the winner-take-all game between the two wildcard qualifiers in the Division Series.
So it got me thinking, who in the name of Carlton Fisk would be their best-case scenario first round playoff match-up and who would be their worst-case scenario round one match-up? There are still six teams in that wildcard race and there’s still a lot left to be determined in the last couple weeks of the season, so it’ll be interesting to see who the Red Sox end up opposing in that divisional round.
Worst-Case Scenario: Texas Rangers
The Red Sox just don’t play well against the Rangers for whatever reason. It’s embedded in their history. They’re 2-4 against them in 2013, including an 0-3 mark at the Ballpark in Arlington and have just a .353 winning percentage (12-22) against the Rangers since 2010. I want no part of strikeout king Yu Darvish (12-9, 2.79ERA) — my choice for AL Cy Young — in a Game 1, or Derek Holland in Game 2. The Rangers also boast three of the game’s best base-stealers in Elvis Andrus (40), Alex Rios (37), and Leonys Martin (32), which could lead to a lot of extra bases taken in a merry-go-round scenario against Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who has thrown out just 22 percent of would-be base-stealers in 2013–second worst in MLB among qualified catchers. All of these components factor into a less than enticing first-round match-up with the Rangers if the situation were to present itself.
Best-Case Scenario: Cleveland Indians
Besides the fact that the Red Sox boast a 6-1 record against the Terry Francona-led Tribe in 2013, the Indians are only a .5 game out of the final wildcard spot currently, and they’re doing so without their ace Justin Masterson, who is sidelined with an oblique injury. If the Indians do manage to make into into a divisional round match-up against the Sox they’d be forced to start Ublaldo Jimenez in Game 1 and either Corey Kluber or Scott Kazmir in Game 2 if Masterson is unable to recover in time, which is awful news for the Indians. Jimenez was embarrassed for seven earned runs in just 1.2 innings in a shellacking against the Sox earlier this season, and their bullpen is full of question marks as well. Not exactly a recipe for postseason success.