The Boston Red Sox entered the 2023 season with fairly limited expectations, and for good reason. Their 2022 campaign was a disaster, and they spent their offseason making some strange decisions as well. They looked decent throughout Spring Training, but it looked like there just wasn't enough depth on this team to help them win consistently.
16 games are officially in the books, and while that's virtually nothing by MLB standards, most teams have answered some of the preliminary questions facing them this season. But the Red Sox? Well, let's just say their first couple of weeks of the season have likely raised more questions for them rather than answering the ones that already existed.
Boston is sitting right at .500 with an 8-8 record to this point, and while that seems a little bland, this team has shown a tendency to reach extreme highs and lows in a very short period of time. But more importantly, nobody still has any idea what to expect from this team everytime they take the field. In a sense, the Red Sox are currently the biggest mystery team in the MLB.
The Red Sox are a mystery to everyone, even themselves
It's already been mentioned, but it's worth noting again; 16 games in an MLB season is an incredibly small sample. Yet during this time, we have already seen Boston look like a surprise Wild Card contender, and we have seen them look like one of the worst teams in the league. With that in mind, it shouldn't be a total shock that it's tough to pin down how good this team is.
All it takes is a look at the first few series that Boston has played in. They took two out of three against the Baltimore Orioles to open the season, before getting swept by the Pittsburgh Pirates, sweeping the Detroit Tigers, getting swept by the Tampa Bay Rays, and winning three of their first four games against the Los Angeles Angels. That's about as topsy-turvy as you can get for an MLB team right now.
It goes beyond just the record in games played, too. Both in the lineup and on the mound, Boston has experienced a wide range of performances. Some of these guys have gotten off to blazing hot starts, while others look like they belong playing on the WooSox in Worcester on the other side of Massachusetts.
In the lineup, there are currently six guys who have a batting average of .260 or better right now. Some of these guys play more frequently than others, and one guy in Adam Duvall (who was the hottest hitter in the league through eight games) is currently out for an extended period of time, but the point still stands.
That seemingly has the makings of a strong lineup, but the problem is that there are five other guys who are hitting .170 or below too, and that includes everyday guys in Enrique Hernandez and Christian Arroyo. Alex Cora has been switching up his lineup like crazy, but it doesn't help when guys like Reese McGuire and Raimel Tapia, who have had strong starts to the season, aren't clean replacements for these guys.
The pitching staff is more of the same too. The starting rotation has been awful for the most part to start this season, and it remains to be seen whether there will be anyone who can change that. Garrett Whitlock turned in the best start by any Red Sox starter on Saturday afternoon (7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K) but besides him, nobody has really been a good starter for the Sox this season.
Let's start with the obvious elephant in the room, which is Chris Sale and his pathetic 11.25 ERA. Sale is supposed to be the ace of this rotation, but he's instead been arguably the worst starting pitcher in the MLB. Corey Kluber has lost each of his three starts and has a 6.92 ERA. Kutter Crawford is only with the team because of injuries elsewhere, and he has a 6.75 ERA in three outings as well.
The bullpen is a bit more like the lineup, with some great performances and some awful ones. Kenley Jansen, John Schreiber, and Josh Winckowski have all been great so far, but of course, they aren't the only guys pitching. Richard Bleier has an 11.81 ERA, and Kaleb Ort and Ryan Brasier are both getting tons of work despite being mediocre at best. And now, they have another unreliable arm in Crawford joining them in the bullpen.
There are just so many question marks surrounding this Red Sox team, and none of them really seem to be coming close to getting resolution. Will the rest of the lineup be able to support Rafael Devers moving forward? Can Sale and the rotation pick things up after an ugly start to the season? Will the bullpen be able to continue bailing out the starters as the season progresses?
These are all questions that should at least have some sort of clarity right now. Instead, they are arguably more murky than they were when the season began, and even worse, we can't tell if that's a good or a bad thing. The Red Sox are a total mystery, and while you'd like to think answers are on the way soon, there's no telling whether or not that is the case.