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MLB playoff picture: Where Red Sox stand after 2019 trade deadline

MLB playoff picture: Where Red Sox stand after 2019 trade deadline

The 2019 MLB trade deadline finally has passed, and now the postseason races in both the American League and National League are about to heat up.

The Boston Red Sox, despite a poor start to the year, still are in the thick of the AL wild card chase with two months remaining in the regular season. FanGraphs gives the Red Sox, as of Wednesday, a 51.9 percent chance of making the playoffs, including a 47.2 percent chance of securing one of the two wild card berths. The Red Sox are just two games behind the Oakland Athletics for the second wild card position entering Wednesday's action, so the defending World Series champs don't have much ground to make up. 

However, the Red Sox chose not to make any upgrades to their roster at Wednesday's trade deadline, and they now must rely on a shaky bullpen and an underperforming rotation for the rest of the year.

How will the trade deadline activity impact the playoff chase? Here's a look at where the Red Sox stand in the AL East and AL wild card races.

1. New York Yankees, 67-39
2. Tampa Bay Rays, 61-48 (7.5 GB)
3. Boston Red Sox, 59-49 (9 GB)

The Red Sox picked up two games on the Yankees after taking three of four matchups versus New York last weekend at Fenway Park. Boston has plenty more opportunities to pick up ground on New York with eight more games against the Yankees this season. The chances of the Red Sox mounting a serious challenge for the division title are slim, though. FanGraphs gives the Red Sox just a 4.7 percent chance of winning the division as of Wednesday.

Luckily for the Red Sox, both the Yankees and Rays didn't make any substantial upgrades at the trade deadline. The Yankees only added a minor league pitcher and the Rays made a few small moves that are unlikely to move the needle much. In that sense, Boston dodged two bullets Wednesday.

AL Wild Card
1. Cleveland Indians, 62-44 
2. Oakland Athletics, 61-47
Tampa Bay Rays, 61-48 (0.5 GB)
Boston Red Sox, 59-49 (2 GB)
Los Angeles Angels, 56-53 (5.5 GB)
Texas Rangers, 53-54 (7.5 GB)

The Indians gave up one of their best starting pitchers in Trevor Bauer and acquired outfielders Franmil Reyes and Yasiel Puig as part of a three-team deal involving the San Diego Padres and Cincinnati Reds. Cleveland didn't make any other major moves, which made sense given the fact the Indians have the AL's best record in July. If it's not broke, don't fix it, right? The Indians are still just three games behind the Minnesota Twins for the AL Central lead, and with a talented roster that has plenty of postseason experience, it's hard to bet on Cleveland missing the playoffs. 

The Red Sox have a good chance to overtake the Rays, however. The defending champs have more talent and experience than Tampa Bay, plus these teams have six more head-to-head matchups remaining. A four-game series in Tampa Bay late in September could play a pivotal role in deciding the wild-card race. Let's not forget the Rays recently lost reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell, who will miss at least a month recovering from elbow surgery. 

The Athletics are the other team ahead of the Sox in the wild card chase and they acquired starting pitcher Tanner Roark from the Cincinnati Reds. Roark adds quality depth to an A's rotation that already ranked fifth in the AL in starters ERA. The Athletics are unlikely to fade down the stretch. They hit a lot of home runs (fifth-most in the AL), they don't strike out often (fourth-fewest in the AL) and their team ERA ranks fifth in the AL. 

The Red Sox's best chance to reach the postseason is to overtake the Rays and get into the AL Wild Card Game.

Click for the biggest winners and losers from the MLB trade deadline>>>

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An Opening Day start for Red Sox' Chris Sale: 'I think I'm going to be ready'

An Opening Day start for Red Sox' Chris Sale: 'I think I'm going to be ready'

Already coming off a season cut short by an elbow injury that shut him down last August, Chris Sale's spring training got off to a slow start as he recovered from a bout with pneumonia just as pitchers and catchers reported to Red Sox camp in Fort Myers. 

He says he's progressing after the illness led to him dropping a few pounds from his already thin frame (6-foot-6, 180). He'll throw a side session Sunday and told reporters on Saturday that he thinks he'll be ready for Opening Day March 26.

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"I think I’m going to be ready for [the opener]. But like I said, those aren’t my calls to make. I go out there, do my job, tell them how I feel on a daily basis," Sale said. "Obviously as the workload picks up, we have to see how things work out. I’ve just got to be open and honest with them and then we map out a plan and see how it works out."

In a Friday interview on WEEI's "Ordway, Merloni and Fauria" show, Sale said having his season end early last summer and going through a rehab process to avoid Tommy John surgery has him raring to go into 2020 despite questions about his stamina.

"I feel like I'm better now than I was then because of going through that [injury and rehab]."

Sale hasn't reached 200 innings pitched since 2017. He went 6-11 in 25 starts (147.1 IP) in what he called "a nightmare season" in 2019 after his and all the starters' workloads were limited in spring training and he struggled with his velocity at times before the injury was diagnosed.

"I feel really good," he told WEEI. "I can sit here and tell you what I want to do, what I think I'm going to do, but I've just got to go do it. I live here in town and put in a lot of work. I was here four to five times a week. It's exciting. For me, this really started last September October when that rehab process began.

"I gotta get back to the basics. Not really worry about fading, the injuries. This is sports. Injuries can happen overnight...I'm not worried about what my track record is or what people are thinking of me."

Jerry Narron hired as Red Sox bench coach

Jerry Narron hired as Red Sox bench coach

Ron Roenicke officially has his bench coach for 2020.

The Boston Red Sox manager announced after Saturday's spring training win over the Tampa Bay Rays that Jerry Narron will take over the role.

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If Narron's name sounds familiar, that's likely because he served as Red Sox bench coach during the 2003 season when Grady Little was manager.

The 64-year-old went on to assume the same role with the Cincinnati Reds in 2004–05, then served as the Reds' interim manager from June 2005 to July 2007.

Since then, Narron has had multiple jobs including stints as bench coach of the Milwaukee Brewers (2011-15) and Arizona Diamondbacks (2017-19). He was Roenicke's bench coach in Milwaukee.

Boston's bench coach position opened up once Roenicke was promoted to interim manager earlier this month. Roenicke replaced Alex Cora, who parted ways with the Red Sox after his name was mentioned in MLB's report on the Houston Astros sign-stealing investigation.