The Boston Red Sox are in the midst of their worst stretch of the 2021 season.
After a relatively quiet trade deadline for Boston, Red Sox fans were left frustrated, and things have gotten worse since then.
A 1-5 stretch has cost the team its division lead, and the Sox are going to have to turn things around in a hurry if they want to avoid playing in the Wild Card Game.
The club does have some help on the way.
Starting pitcher Chris Sale is set to return from injury soon, and slugger Kyle Schwarber—the team’s lone notable deadline addition—will make his debut in the near future once he comes off the injured list.
But those two players alone likely won’t provide enough of a boost for Boston to reclaim the division lead.
Rather, in addition to Sale and Schwarber, the Red Sox are going to need to get some production from a couple of other players—players who have been struggling lately.
Let’s find out who those guys are.
2. Alex Verdugo
Many fans perceive Alex Verdugo to be the face of this Red Sox team.
He plays with an energy that cannot be easily replaced, and he becomes an even more important piece for Boston when he is producing at a high clip.
Unfortunately, his production hasn’t been great over the past month or so.
He is batting just .232/.314/.320 over 34 games since June 23, and he has homered just once during that span.
Tough night for Alex Verdugo at the plate so far. He grounded into a double play with two men on to end the second, and now he strikes out with two on to end the fifth. #RedSox
— Mac Cerullo (@MacCerullo) August 4, 2021
The skid has done some damage to his overall statistics.
He was batting .294 with an OPS of .821 on June 11, and today, he is batting .270 with an OPS of .750.
Those numbers are still serviceable for sure, but Verdugo is capable of playing at a much higher level than those stats imply.
Let’s not forget that this guy received MVP votes in 2020.
He has what it takes to be an elite MLB player, and the the Red Sox are hoping to see that side of him down the stretch.
1. J.D. Martinez
J.D. Martinez started the 2021 season looking like an MVP candidate.
Although designated hitters rarely win the award, he had people talking about the possibility.
That narrative has certainly gone away as the season has progressed.
Martinez is still having a good campaign, but his past month has been rocky.
The slugger is batting .235 with a .752 OPS over 26 games since July 3.
If you shrink the sample size to his past 12 games, he is batting just .152 with a mere .448 OPS.
The struggle is real for JD Martinez. In a big slump currently.
— Brian (@brianssportssh1) August 2, 2021
The Red Sox aren’t going to get very far if that’s the way things are going for Martinez.
He still has a couple of months to turn things around in time for the postseason, but if he wants to help the team in the American League East race, he is going to need to get going sooner than later.
Perhaps a date with the Toronto Blue Jays this weekend will do the trick.
Against Toronto, he is a career .273 hitter with an OPS of .866.
That could be just what he needs.