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Red Sox can blame early exit on stars’ lackluster performance

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The Red Sox exited the playoffs much sooner than anticipated, suffering a sweep at the hands of the Indians in the ALDS. They lost 5-4 in Game 1 and were shut out 6-0 in Game 2 before suffering a 4-3 loss on Monday evening in Game 3.

There is no one individual player to blame for the early exit. Rather, most of their star players performed much worse than anticipated, particularly compared to their 2016 regular season performances.

Let’s begin with the starting pitching:

And a select look at the offense:

Credit is due to the Indians for figuring out how to dismantle the starting pitching and for keeping the Red Sox offense at bay. But the Sox were certainly expecting much more out of the club — certainly enough to keep them from being swept out of the ALDS.

If there is a silver lining, at least the bullpen pitched well. Matt Barnes gave up an unearned run in Game 2 and Drew Pomeranz gave up two runs on a Coco Crisp homer in Game 3. Over 16 1/3 innings of relief, two earned runs (1.10 ERA) will do.

Zack Wheeler will miss at least two starts when his wife gives birth

Zack Wheeler miss starts
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Per The Athletic’s Matt Gelb, Phillies starter Zack Wheeler will miss at least two starts when his wife goes into labor and gives birth to their first child, expected to be later this month. Wheeler, in fact, is not sure if he will return to play at all once their child is born.

Wheeler said, “We just have to see how things are here at the field and at the stadium. I’m happy with what I see so far. But things could change, especially once our baby’s born. I always think about what’s going on around me. Is it safe? Is it OK? Literally every single day. I have to just ask myself that. I’m going to continue to keep asking myself that every day.”

Wheeler, 30, inked a five-year, $118 million contract with the Phillies in December. He is slated for the No. 2 spot in the rotation behind Aaron Nola. Last season, with the Mets, Wheeler posted a 3.96 ERA with 195 strikeouts and 50 walks over 195 1/3 innings.

The No. 5 spot in the Phillies’ rotation is currently up for grabs between Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, Ranger Suárez, and prospect Spencer Howard. One of the remaining three could fill in for Wheeler when he needs time off, temporarily or otherwise.