The Red Sox have finalized their roster for the 2016 ALDS against Cleveland, with Christian Vazquez, Drew Pomeranz, and Marco Hernandez nabbing three of the very few uncertain spots.
Jackie Bradley Jr.
David Ortiz (1)
Starting Pitchers (4)
Robbie Ross Jr.
So the notables:
Christian Vazquez takes the second catching spot because nobody really stepped up and, all else being equal, the Red Sox may as well bring along the best defender.
Pomeranz’ bullpen audition lasted all of four outs in one game. But given his past success there and how good he looked recording those four outs, it’s not surprising to see the Red Sox roll the dice on him given that he might well just slot in immediately as one of their best relievers.
Joe Kelly, too, makes the bullpen, but that seems to have been locked in for a while now.
The biggest relief surprise is probably Matt Barnes beating Heath Hembree out. Hembree hasn’t been amazing since his August 19 return, but he’s been a pretty reasonable guy to turn to, especially if you’re looking to preserve a slightly larger (say, three runs) lead. Barnes, over that same period, has a 6.75 ERA which has left him up above 4.00 on the season while Hembree remains at 2.65. There’s some argument to be made that the worst of Barnes’ performance over that stretch is isolated to one game and he’s had a bit more success in September alone, but the season numbers kind of speak loudest of all.
The only other interesting pick is Marco Hernandez. He’s a bit of a catch-all player who can field, run, and hit to the point where he’ll likely be an upgrade over some player in some specific situation during any given game, especially with the Sox having a couple guys with extreme platoon splits they might call into the game for one at-bat only to have them come up again the next time through the order. With a couple days off interspersed and the Sox obviously all-in, they probably figure there won’t be many opportunities to really make use of an eighth man in the bullpen. Even if the man left out is Hembree instead of Barnes.