The end of August is approaching and that means one thing: division races in Major League Baseball are about to heat up.
With 35 games to play, the Boston Red Sox hold a slim 1.0 game lead in the AL East, holding off a Tampa Bay Rays squad that has cooled off, for now, after winning 18 of 20.
As the stretch run creeps up in Beantown, what players need to step up for the Sox to capture the division?
Alex Speier and Marc Bertrand looked into the case Monday on The Baseball Show.
Speier felt the top of the team's batting order is solid, but a boost at the middle spot of the lineup from a recent call up could prove pivotal.
"To me, they need to figure out who's going to be the number five hitter, they need to find that right-handed bat to finally give some protection to the major league leader in intentional walks who is David Ortiz," Speier said. "The guy I'm interested in seeing is Will Middlebrooks. He's been extremely hot since he's come back…to me Middlebrooks is a guy who has life in his bat and a bit of a track record more so than Bogaerts even to give a chance to change the complexion of the order."
Not everybody is content with seeing the same old production from the top four in September, though.
Bertrand is counting on one player in particular to raise his game in the final month of the regular season, the man who leads off the order.
"Jacboy Ellsbury because he historically finishes strong. His best month of his career, historically, has been September and the beginning of October when we're talking regular season," Bertrand said. ".330 batting average, .505 slugging, his OPS is the highest in that month as well and 17 home runs in the final month of the season over the course of his career, I'm expecting him to be a big part of this team. Going forward they need Jacoby Ellsbury."
Who do you think the Red Sox need to bring their game up the most in September? Have at it in the comments section.