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.
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