Pro sports column: Red Sox finishing strong after weak season

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For many, the 2015 Red Sox season felt like a loss a few months ago, when the team first occupied the cellar of the AL East. And with Koji Uehara out for the season, Hanley Ramirez switching positions while being injured, and John Farrell leaving the team after being diagnosed with cancer in August, there’s absolutely an argument for that claim.

However, the Red Sox and new interim-manager Torey Lovullo, have successfully ended the season on a high note. On Monday night, the team showed their newfound resolve in their victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, in which Xander Bogaerts eighth-inning grand slam lifted Boston over their divisional foes. The win was the Red Sox third in a row, and sixth in their last ten through Monday. But that’s hardly the story of the 2015 team.

Fans at Fenway Park. By Flickr user Patrick.

The group has shown signs of life, but more impressively, the team’s blue-chip prospects, which have been lauded for so long, seem to be game. Henry Owens, the 6’6 left-hander has looked excellent in six of his first eight starts, raking up three wins since August 4.

Infielder Travis Shaw has also looked solid in his first major stint with the Red Sox. The 25-year-old has slugged 11 home runs in 174 at bats, with 49 hits in that span, good for a respectable .282 batting average.

Catching prospect Blake Swihart has also found his groove after a relatively rocky start to his major league career. The Bedford, TX native has hit .276 in his first chance in the big leagues, and has looked cool, confident and collected while calling games.

On the veteran side of the coin, despite his recent injury, Joe Kelly had won seven games in a row, during a stretch where he owned a 2.21 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and struck out 29 batters while walking only 14.

As it stands through Tuesday, the identity of the Red Sox is very up in the air. The lineup is clearer than the pitching staff, but there are still question marks scattered one through nine. Brock Holt’s role remains to be seen, seeing as his all-star 2015 campaign warrants more than a utility position on the bench. The starting catcher position is another question mark with Swihart and Christian Vazquez—who has missed 2015 season—vying for that role.

But the biggest question is the pitching staff. The Red Sox are without an ace, without a reliable veteran arm in the rotation, without a closer and without a solid bullpen overall. But even with all the question marks, the past month has shown that the team is headed in the right direction, and has plenty of pieces to the puzzle already in place, a la Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, and the core of the team in Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz. These four in addition to the aforementioned names.

The Red Sox, realistically, won’t be lifting the World Series trophy over their heads come October. But as dark as the times have been in 2015, the team looks primed to bounce back in 2016, with a reloaded and rejuvenated roster.