Welcome to Boston.com’s Sports Q, our daily conversation, initiated by you and moderated by Chad Finn, about a compelling topic in Boston sports. Here’s how it works: You submit questions to Chad through Twitter, Facebook, email, his Friday chat, and any other outlet you prefer. He’ll pick one each weekday to answer, then we’ll take the discussion to the comments. Chad will stop by several times per day to navigate. But you drive the conversation.
Jackie Bradley Jr.’s grand slam [in Game 3 of the ALCS Tuesday night] wasn’t a total shock since he hit 13 homers this year and has had 26 in a season before. He’s capable of hitting the ball out. But it probably was unexpected considering how streaky he can be for long stretches. It did remind me that the Red Sox have had a lot of great contributions already from players who might not have had such high expectations going into the playoffs. The question, then, is who has been the biggest surprise so far during the playoffs? Bradley is up there, but who is your first choice? – Steve C.
Hmmm. As great as that grand slam was, I can’t go with Bradley, since he’s slashing .172/.308/.409 in the playoffs so far. He is tied with J.D. Martinez for the team lead in RBIs (7) through seven games, but four came on that one swing.
It’s tempting to say Steve Pearce. He’s slashing .304/.385/.478 and suddenly has the ability to stretch his body at least 10 feet long on close plays at first base. (OK, eight feet, tops. Still impressive.) But he was a really good hitter during the regular season. The stellar defense is the only real surprise.
Nathan Eovaldi and Rick Porcello (entering Wednesday’s start, anyway) have been the best-case scenario of what the Red Sox were hoping for, but that doesn’t qualify as a total surprise, just a pleasant development.
So I think my choice is a couple of someones who fill basically the same role: the Red Sox’ maligned-as-a-group middle relievers and set-up guys. So far through the seven playoff games, Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Heath Hembree, and Joe Kelly have combined to pitch 18.2 innings. In that span, they’ve struck out 16 while allowing four hits, 12 walks, and not a single earned run. That, my friends, is a pleasant surprise.
But what do you guys think? What or who has been the Red Sox most pleasant surprise so far during the postseason? I’ll hear you in the comments.