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View from the other side: Red Sox questions for Matt Collins of Over the Monster

MLB: World Series-Los Angeles Dodgers at Boston Red Sox Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays go from White Sox to Red Sox

The Red Sox are 24-22, sitting in 3rd in the AL East. After a slow start (they were 6-13 on April 17th) they have been much better.

They are 5th in runs scored per game at 5.17. And 8th in runs allowed per game at 4.70.

I sent off some questions to Matt Collins of Over the Monster and he was kind enough to answer them.

It seems like Chris Sale has righted himself. What is he doing differently lately, compared to the start of the season?

It really is the build-up to full strength more than anything else. Granted, he took a bit of a step back on Sunday against the Astros, but that was mostly because the Astros are absurdly good. Sale had a light spring training as the Red Sox tried to ease all of their pitchers into action following their deep run last fall and their heavy usage in the playoffs. He clearly wasn’t right when the season started and was sitting in the high-80s or low-90s on a good day. His slider wasn’t sharp and he was just never able to get into his rhythm. The Red Sox also brought back his personal catcher in Sandy León, and while that’s certainly not the only reason for his success it’s at least notable that his turnaround has coincided with León’s return.

David Price has had a bit of a up and down time of it with the Red Sox. What do fans think of him?

It’s entirely possible I’m just sheltered in my corner of Red Sox fandom, but I think the playoffs last year finally got the fans on his side. Above all else, fans here are going to like you if you come through in the biggest moments regardless of what else happens on and off the field. That can be a fault sometimes, but Price never really did anything to earn the hatred he had received before the postseason run last fall. He is the kind of player who is always going to say what’s on his mind, and that is going to get him in trouble at times. At least for now, though, his stock with the fans is at an all-time high.

What do OTM members think of the players decisions to go or not go to the White House. I would have expected that if the manager said he wasn’t going and explained why, that more would have chosen not to go.

For the most part, I think we’ve tried to push this to the back burner. I can’t really speak for anyone else, but I put this whole debacle on the ownership group for even accepting this invitation in the first place. This was always setting up for such a stark divide along racial lines, and that should have been easy to see coming from a mile away. I understand players accepting the invitation to see the White House and don’t believe this is any major issue in the clubhouse, but I’m still certainly disappointed there weren’t white players who stood along side their teammates of color in avoiding this visit.

Can we have a quick scouting report on the starting pitchers we are likely to see?

-David Price starts the first game, and he’s coming off an injury that’s caused him to miss the last couple of weeks. Price isn’t the Price of old anymore, relying more on changeups and cutters along with strong command rather than an overpowering fastball. It’s all about hitting spots with him.

-Eduardo Rodriguez can be incredibly frustrating, but when he’s pitching like he should he is outstanding. He has a mid-90s fastball, a great changeup and a cutter/slider. There are times he falls in love with his fastball too much and gets shelled. There are also other times where he nibbles and barely makes it through five innings.

-Hector Velázquez isn’t much of a true starter and is only in the rotation because Nathan Eovaldi is hurt. Velázquez generally goes about three innings at a time and is all command. If he’s not hitting his spots every lineup in the majors will crush him.

-Rick Porcello is pitching about as well as he has since winning the Cy Young in 2016. He’s moved away from the sinker-heavy approach from the early days in his career and now leans most heavily on a four-seamer up in the zone. He’ll give up a home run or two every time out, but most of the time they are solo shots that don’t hurt too much.

What is Dustin Pedroia’s future with the team?

That’s the million dollar question. He’s still trying to come back and is currently rehabbing, but we’ve been through this a ton over the last couple years and hasn’t really been able to come back. Even if he does actually come back this time, no one really knows what the expect in terms of performance after pretty much not playing since the first half of the 2017 season. Meanwhile, rookie Michael Chavis has come on and played second base almost every day while mashing in the lineup. Things could get awkward quickly if/when Pedroia does come back, though Chavis has been saying all the right things so far.

Who are your late inning relievers? How confident are you in their ability to hold a win?

This is the biggest question with the Red Sox right now and has been since the end of last season. Matt Barnes is their top reliever and has been used in any of the last three innings depending on when the middle of the other team’s lineup was due up. He’s fantastic and possibly the most underrated reliever in the game. I have nothing but confidence in Barnes. Marcus Walden has stepped up of late thanks to a new slider and has been the second-best reliever in this bullpen, though he’s come out of nowhere so there’s still down in the back of my mind when he comes in. Brandon Workman has been tough to hit but also walks a ton of guys, leading to a tightrope that feels like it has to snap at some point. Essentially, it’s Barnes and to a lesser extent Walden, then close your eyes and hope for the best.

Who is your favorite Red Sox player to watch? It’s Mookie right? Maybe should ask who is your second favorite to watch?

Obviously it’s Mookie, who is arguably the most exciting player to watch in all of baseball. If we take him out of the equation, I’d probably go with Jackie Bradley Jr. He’s been terrible at the plate this year, but out in center field he’s as exciting as any other outfielder in baseball. He covers a ton of ground, makes the athletic catches and has a rocket for an arm. Plus, while he’s struggling now he has a six-week stretch every year where he inexplicably turns into Mike Trout and it rules.

Thanks Matt