Rafael Devers is second among American League batters with 4.0 WAR. (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images)
STATS & ANALYSIS

The Boston Red Sox Are Heating Up

Their arch-rivals may have the best record in baseball, but the Red Sox have been better than the Yankees so far in June.

While Bostonians were rightfully focusing on the Celtics over the last couple of months, the city’s best and hottest team in June doesn’t practice jump shots and never planned to stop Stephen Curry. The Red Sox have won seven in a row and own Major League Baseball’s best record this month at 19-4, taking them from 23-27 overall to the American League’s Wild Card leader at 42-31.

So what’s changed between May and now, aside from the temperature?

In short, the Red Sox started pitching at an elite level — especially their starters. After registering a 4.44 ERA as a team in May, that number is down to 2.66 in June.

  • After going 30-38 in the first five years of his career with Philadelphia and Boston, Nick Pivetta has emerged as the team’s ace, going 4-1 with a 2.11 ERA in May, and following that with a nearly identical June (4-1, 2.12). He’s struck out 70 over the last two months with 16 walks and 50 hits allowed in 72 1/3 innings.
  • At 42 years old, Rich Hill is still dealing as baseball’s oldest pitcher and second-oldest player after Albert Pujols. After stumbling to a 5.73 ERA in May, Hill is 3-1 this month with a 3.00 ERA in five starts over 27 innings. Add an extra 11 scoreless frames from currently injured 32-year-old hurler Nathan Eovaldi, and Boston is getting a ton out of its older pitchers.
  • Michael Wacha’s career has been a journey, going from being an All-Star in 2015 at age 23 to a disappointing journeyman with a 10-16 record and a 5.11 ERA over 285 innings the last three years. Now, he’s a Red Sox revelation. He’s 6-2 with a 2.34 ERA across 65 2/3 innings to date, including 3-0 with a 2.19 ERA in June.
  • Since making his MLB debut on May 28, Josh Winckowski has been a strong young rotation asset, going 3-0 with a 2.12 ERA this month, helping the Boston rotation strive across the board.
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The bullpen has been strong in June as well, with a 3.16 ERA after a 4.57 mark in May. This is despite — or perhaps because of — Matt Barnes’ shoulder injury that’s kept him sidelined since May 30. And that’s not a knock on Barnes. His injury has forced Boston to lean on others, and it’s gotten dominant stretches from closer Tanner Houck, Ryan Brasier, John Schreiber, Jake Diekman, and Hirozaku Sawamura, each of whom have sub-2.50 ERAs in June.

Boston’s elite pitching in June has boosted an offense continuing to hum. The Red Sox are slashing .270/.348/.424, and while those numbers may look relatively pedestrian, the Sawx lead MLB for the season with a .261 batting average, are third with a .326 OBP (first in the AL), fifth with a .419 slugging percentage, and fifth with a .752 OPS. Boston has gotten great months from AL MVP candidate Rafael Devers, Xander Boegarts, and Alex Verdugo, with a strong showing from rookie outfielder Jarren Duran.

The Red Sox can hit. There’s no question about that. But Boston needs to sustain strong pitching if it wants to make the playoffs in a crowded AL that includes the division rival Yankees, Rays, and Blue Jays. Pivetta, Hill, Eovaldi, and Wacha have been stellar and need to keep it up or get some help from the front office if the city of Boston wants to have more than just the Celtics to celebrate in 2022.

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