Peter Gammons: Chris Sale, Pomeranz, health concerns, and more Red Sox thoughts

Be honest, if not for Chris Sale and Craig Kimbrel, the Red Sox today would be focused on beating out the Angels for the second card or next year. So unless they have to use Sale Sunday or Monday, logic says a first game matchup between Sale and either Justin Verlander or Corey Kluber gives them a chance to steal away the series given the depth their bullpen has demonstrated the last month of the season.

Drew Pomeranz needs a breath, like a lot of pitchers right now who have never thrown 180 innings. Kimbrel could use one, as well.

But Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia are serious concerns. A wrist or hand injury to any elite hitter is a concern, especially one like Betts, who has lightning hands on which he relies to use the field, drive the ball and make contact to all fields. He doesn’t have to hit home runs, but now he fields balls before he throws in the field can be impacted, and any hitter with elite hands—Xander Bogaerts is another example—cannot afford hand and/or wrist issues. MRIs do not show the makings of those hands.

Because Pedroia plays so hard, with no regard to body. Knees, elbows, wrists, hands, shoulders are always in a danger zone.

The Red Sox need Pedroia at the top and/or the middle of the order because when it comes to the middle of the order, they are the weakest team in baseball in the fourth and fifth holes of the order. In those combined lineup spots, the power holes, they are 27th in baseball in homers, 28th in extra base hits, 29th in average and OBP, and dead last in slugging percentage, OPS and RBIs.

If they open the post-season with Verlander or Kluber, that is a big problem.

Check the numbers for the likely and potential post-season teams:

                        NATIONAL LEAGUE

           Ave/OBP/Slug/OPS         XBH/HR/RBI

WSH    .304/.366/541/908            152/64/236

ARZ      .272/.341/.551/.891           166/52/256

MIL      .268/.336/.498/.834         134/68/209

COL      .263/335/.439/774            114/46/191

CHC     .253/.336/462/.797           129/55/204

LAD     .238/.325/.443/.768          129/53/177


                   AMERICAN LEAGUE

       Ave/OBP/SLUG/OPS      XBH/HR/RBI

NYY         .268/342/.457/.799        116/54/196

HOU        .266/324/.433/.757        116/45/217

MIN        .263/333/.457/.790         128/51/186

CLE         .262/.359/.479/838         123/63/203

BOS         .230/.310/.390/.700        111/42/154


The Red Sox pitching has been very good. Their staff earned run average going into Wednesday’s game with Toronto is second to the Indians. The OPS against them is .639, also second. Problem is the Indians, Yankees and Astros are 1-3-4, and the middle of the Boston order is an October issue, especially if Betts and Pedroia are playing hurt.