Fenway Park

Predicting 2022 Red Sox’ fate no simple task

It is an obligatory, if essentially foolish exercise. But anyone who regularly writes about big-league baseball is expected to predict how the home team will fare in the coming season.

Teams have so many moving parts, mostly independent of one another, that it requires as much clairvoyance as analysis to decide how many games it will win. Then there are the immeasurable factors – unless the sabermetricians have discovered a way to slap numerical values on karma.

They haven’t, mainly because they consider karma a mythical fog that in no way is going to alter a batter’s OPS or a pitcher’s DIPS.

DIPS is short for Defensive Independent Pitching Statistics.

That is the first and last time DIPS will be mentioned here.

Let’s trudge along in pursuit of the Boston Red Sox’ potential karma. It seemed OK until the last week or so, when it became clear that the stress fracture in Chris Sale’s right ribcage would delay his presence on the mound.

The Red Sox put Sale on the 60-day disabled list. That makes Sale unavailable until at least June 6.

Considering how unlucky Sale has been in his injury-clouded Red Sox career, no one would be stunned if he is on the DL longer than that. Or that he could come back, pitch well, and go down with another injury.

Sale’s fate is not the only uncertainty dogging the Red Sox’ pitching staff. The starting rotation will feature Nathan Eovaldi, Nick Pivetta, Michael Wacha, Tanner Houck and either (or both) Rich Hill and Garrett Whitlock.

It could be pretty good … or not. That puts the odds at 50/50.

The bullpen, as a whole, remains just about impossible to gauge. And, particularly in today’s game, no contender deserves that tag if its bullpen is anything less than pretty good.

Assessing the Red Sox’ lineup is much easier. It’s good, maybe very good, maybe even very, very good.

When you read more than one very before good from this old scribe, it means don’t worry about it.

Considering the pitching staff, the Red Sox’ lineup better be very, very good. This does not look like a club that is going to win many 3-2 games.

Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, Trevor Story, Rafael Devers … start with that core and the Red Sox’ will hold up its end through 162 games and, perhaps, beyond.

One constant through decades of Red Sox prognostication is the reality that ultimately, pitching is going to steer the ship.

We’ll put down the 2022 Red Sox for 88 wins.

Since MLB, in its infinite pursuit of TV money, has expanded the playoffs to six teams per league, 88 wins may be sufficient.

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