The 2021 AL Wild Card Game is upon us.
We have a fantastic matchup on our hands, as the Boston Red Sox are set to host the New York Yankees in a win-or-go-home contest.
This game is loaded with storylines for both teams.
In this piece, we’ll be taking a look at some of the biggest narratives surrounding the Red Sox going into the Wild Card Game.
After a wild 2021 regular season for the club, there are plenty of storylines to choose from.
Let’s get started.
3. Will Rafael Devers’ Recent Hot Stretch Carry Over Into Postseason?
Rafael Devers was one of Boston’s hottest hitters near the end of the regular season.
Over his final seven regular-season games, he batted .355 with a 1.052 OPS.
Over his final 13 regular-season games, he batted .364 with a 1.004 OPS.
And from the beginning of September onward, he batted .303 with an .867 OPS.
Devers also provided the Red Sox with a massive home run in the team’s regular-season finale.
His ninth-inning blast gave Boston a lead that it never relinquished, and the victory gave the Red Sox the No. 1 Wild Card spot in the AL.
DEVERS DOES IT AGAIN pic.twitter.com/UfavUW2hBa
— MLB (@MLB) October 3, 2021
Clearly, the youngster has been swinging a hot bat for several weeks.
Will that carry over into the postseason?
Only time will tell.
But if his playoff track record is any indication, then Devers is likely going to deliver on the big stage.
He’s a career .311 hitter with an OPS of .884 in the playoffs.
2. Will Nathan Eovaldi Rise To The Occasion?
The Red Sox are putting a lot of faith in Nathan Eovaldi by giving him the ball in the Wild Card Game.
Will it pay off?
We’re going to find out.
The righty had a great 2021 regular season, pitching to a 3.75 ERA and league-best 2.79 FIP.
Boston went 19-13 in his starts.
Moreover, the Red Sox know what the 31-year-old is capable of doing in the postseason.
He was a horse for Boston in the 2018 playoffs en route to the team’s World Series title.
He pitched to a 1.61 ERA over six outings in those playoffs.
There’s no telling if the team would have won the championship without him.
Will he deliver some similar results this time around?
The Red Sox certainly hope so.
The Yankees will counter Eovaldi with Gerrit Cole, so we have a very good pitching matchup on tap tonight.
1. How Will Red Sox Fare Without J.D. Martinez?
Unfortunately for the Red Sox, slugger J.D. Martinez will not be available tonight due to an ankle injury.
JD Martinez is not on Wild Card roster as @jonmorosi reported. Big blow for Boston.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) October 5, 2021
Needless to say, losing Martinez is devastating for Boston.
He, along with Devers, was one of the team’s best hitters over the final few weeks of the regular season.
Martinez slashed .286/.349/.518 with 28 home runs, 42 doubles, and three triples over 148 regular-season games, and over his final 21 games, he slashed .307/.369/.929 with 11 extra-base-hits.
Plus, the veteran has always been a great playoff performer.
He has a career .286 batting average and .925 OPS in the postseason.
There’s no doubt that Boston will miss his services against the Yankees.
Will the Red Sox be able to overcome the setback?