Needless to say, but the Boston Red Sox have certainly impressed this first month of the season, finishing 14-10 and .5 GB of Baltimore for first place in the AL East. Following their absolute beatdown of archrival New York, the Sox close out the month on fire, winning 5 of their final 6 games and look to sweep the Bronx Bombers with a win today.
Who deserves credit for this first month?
Most of the credit belongs to the Boston offense, which leads the AL with 5.3 runs scored per game. The gritty, never say die, attitude of this offense has really helped Boston while the pitchers worked out the kinks and slowly started to improve. Every single regular, minus Christian Vasquez, knocked in at least 10 RBI in April, and minus Vasquez, every regular hit .265+ this month. Now that is going to get the job done more often than not.
Christian Vasquez deserves a lot of credit as well for how he seems to have single-handedly turned this pitching staff around, something that Blake Swihart definitely wasn't doing. Vasquez (or "Yadi" as his teammates have nicknamed him) has brought that defensive presence that is far more important behind the dish than offense. He hit .222 in April but if he is going to keep pitchers calm, which he has been doing, I am okay with the low average.
The bullpen had a few hiccups, presumably from over-usage, but overall this bullpen is nasty. Uehara and Taz held opponents to a under-.100 batting average, and Kimbrel's opponent BAA is just over .100. With the return of Carson Smith within the week, our pen is only going to get stronger and that's what is really exciting.
Pleasant surprises this month:
When I think of the pleasant surprises for the Boston Red Sox this season so far, the first man that comes to mind is Rick Porcello. Porcello has seemed to totally forget about his horrific season last year, as he has been ace-caliber this first month; finishing April 5-0 with a 2.77 ERA with 36 Ks in 32.2 innings. Opponents are also hitting a poor .200 against the righty.
Steven Wright has certainly made Dombroski's life a whole lot harder for the next coming weeks, as he dominated in April. The knuckleballer went 2-2 with a 1.37 ERA while opponents hit .196 against him. So while we await the return of Eduardo Rodriguez, we are going to need to think of who he will be replacing, because right now it cannot be Steven Wright.
Travis Shaw has even been a surprise. The power isn't quite there (2 ding dongs), but he's hitting .314 and driving in runs (15). But it isn't his offense that is what surprised me, it's his defense that has been impressive. Shaw isn't going to win a gold glove or "wow" you with athleticism, but he's making plays and helping pitchers feel confident that they can throw strikes.
There aren't many question marks regarding this team at the moment. The only real one is Clay Buchholz. If there is anyone who needs a clean slate on this team, it is Buchholz, who having by far his worst April (0-3 with a 6.51 ERA with an opponent BAA of .284). Buchholz needs to show something this month or his future with Boston is in serious jeopardy.
The last question is, "What is the timetable for us acquiring another top of the line starter?" That question has still yet to be answered, thanks to Porcello and Wright dominating April, but this rotation isn't built for October as is. My fellow colleagues, some more than others, are raving at the possibility that Oakland could deal Sonny Gray to Boston. Gray and Price can really make this team an even bigger juggernaut in the MLB. Add Gray, and we will finally be able to match up, from top to bottom, with the Cubs.