The Boston Red Sox are arguably the most surprising team in baseball in 2021.
Most preseason projections expected Boston to hover around the .500 mark this season.
Needless to say, the team has blown those expectations out of the water.
The Red Sox are currently sitting atop the American League East at 62-39.
That’s the best record in the AL and the second-best record in the Majors.
The club is firmly in the mix for a World Series title.
But as well as everything is going for Boston, there are a couple of lingering concerns.
And today, we’re going to break them down.
2. The Tampa Bay Rays
Yes, the Tampa Bay Rays are a problem.
And they’re just getting started.
After trading for slugger Nelson Cruz last week, the Rays took their offense from good to great, and the team is rumored to be in the mix for some more superstar players (like Max Scherzer) as the deadline approaches.
Rays acquiring All-Star slugger Nelson Cruz from Twins, per @JeffPassan
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 22, 2021
Compounded with the fact that Tampa Bay has a much easier remaining schedule than the Red Sox do, the AL East division race is far from over.
Boston has done a spectacular job maintaining its division lead for much of the season, and right now, the club has a two-game advantage, but it remains to be seen if it will last.
It’s certainly a two-horse race between the Red Sox and Rays, and it will be very interesting to see who comes out on top.
For Boston, it would be a devastating outcome to land in the Wild Card Game after such a fantastic regular season.
1. Back End Of Rotation
But lately, each of those guys have come back down to Earth.
Perez had a 3.09 ERA over his first 11 starts and has a 5.94 ERA over his last nine.
Pivetta had a 3.78 ERA over his first 12 starts and has a 5.61 ERA over his last eight.
Richards had a 3.88 ERA over his first 12 starts and has a 7.24 ERA over his last seven.
Evidently, their hot starts weren’t sustainable.
Eovaldi and Rodriguez were the two guys who were expected to carry the weight in the absence of superstar Chris Sale.
Eovaldi has done his part, but it has been a struggle for Rodriguez.
Fortunately, help is on the way, as the aforementioned Sale is set to return very soon.
Chris Sale 2nd rehabbing assignment:
3.2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K.
49 pitches, 34 strikes
Fastball touching 97mph. pic.twitter.com/GabglOJKew
— Boston Strong (@BostonStrong_34) July 20, 2021
The Red Sox will get a huge boost when he does.
The 32-year-old has a career 3.03 ERA and has finished in the top-five of the Cy Young race six times in each of his past seven seasons.
But here’s the thing: Even when Sale comes back, the back end of the rotation will still have concerns.
Boston will be able to roll with a really solid one-two punch of Sale-Eovaldi, but after that, the team will have to keep three of Perez/Rodriguez/Pivetta/Richards in the rotation, and that’s not exactly ideal.
At the same time, though, every starter in the rotation has shown flashes of success at certain points this season, so the Red Sox may very well end up just fine in this department.
We’ll have to wait and see.NEXT: Which NL Teams Can Take Down Red Sox In World Series?