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Red Sox September call-up preview

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A look at some names we could see when the rosters expand on September 1

Boston Red Sox v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

One of the strangest rules in baseball is that, for the final month of the season, every team in the league can roster up to 15 extra players. It’s the most important stretch of the season in which teams are battling for their postseason lives, and all of a sudden teams are playing by different rules. It’s a time of year that makes no sense in this writer’s opinion, but that’s a discussion for another day. For now, we accept that this is the case and that the Red Sox will join the rest of the league in adding players to its roster over the final month of the season. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some players who could join the big-league roster at some point in September. Most of these won’t come as a surprise, as they are simply players on the 40-man roster for whom the Red Sox haven’t had room of late. We’ve seen many of them, and knew we’d see them again. There are, though, a few players who could be added to the 40-man to come up.

Deven Marrero

I would expect Marrero to be among the group that is called up right on September 1, as he can provide a big boost to this team off the bench. If you’re recall, he was on a nice little run in the majors before the Red Sox acquired Eduardo Nuñez and Marrero was sent back to Pawtucket. In fact, before Nuñez was brought in the plan was to platoon Rafael Devers and Marrero at third base. Clearly, things have changed since then, but Marrero can still play a big role. Although Boston’s offense is much better now than even a couple weeks ago, the infield defense could use some help. Marrero is a stellar glove and can provide some relief on the left side late in games. I’d also expect him to get some starts at shortstop to give Xander Bogaerts some rest and to come in as a pinch runner late in games.

Tzu-Wei Lin

Before there was Nuñez and before there was Devers, Lin was the sparkplug of this offense. He was originally called up as a surprise addition who spoke to the utter destruction of the team’s infield depth throughout the year. His performance on the field ended up being a much bigger surprise than his presence on it. Lin was almost certainly playing over his head for much of that stretch, but it’s hard to deny he can help when (not if) he returns. Like Marrero, I’d expect him to be a late-inning player to help either as a defensive replacement or as a pinch runner.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Texas Rangers Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Travis

Sticking of the theme of bats who have made their way to the majors at some point (or points) during the season, we have the quote-unquote First Baseman Of The Future. Travis is certainly an intriguing option for this year, and this September could be a big moment for him to prove he’s ready for a bigger role in 2018. Although he doesn’t have the power you’d like to see from a first baseman, he has tremendous bat-to-ball skills. There were some inconsistencies in his other stints in the majors this year, but we’ve seen flashes of what he’s capable of. It’s unclear exactly how many starts Travis will be able to get for himself down the stretch, but he’ll immediately become the second-best right-handed bat off the bench for late-game situations. Those are where a player can really make a name for himself, of course.

Brian Johnson

Now, we move on to the starting pitching depth, and Johnson is at the forefront of this part of the roster. The lefty has impressed in a few of his major-league starts this year, and some bad injury luck has kept him off the mound even more. It’s unlikely he’ll be able to get another start before September, but if Doug Fister is struggling at that point and David Price hasn’t returned yet Johnson could very well earn at least a start or two. At the very least, he’s strong long relief insurance in the bullpen.

Hector Velazquez

Just re-read everything I said about Johnson, except change “lefty” to “righty.”

Austin Maddox/Kyle Martin/Noe Ramirez

I am keeping all three of these guys together because A) this post is already going longer than I thought it would and B) they are roughly the same. They all have different qualities that make them special and unique pitchers, of course, but in terms of their spot on the roster they are in the same position. All three are right-handed relievers who have served as emergency call-ups and Quad-A relievers for 2017. They probably won’t all come up at the same time — Pawtucket needs some players on its roster for the end of the year, too — but they’ll all be here eventually. Don’t expect to see them in many high-leverage spots, but they’ll help save some bullets in blowouts for the guys who expect to pitch in the postseason.

Ben Taylor

Theoretically, Taylor could probably be included with the trio above him. He has also served as an up-and-down guy even after making the Opening Day roster. The only reason I’ve singled him out is because he’s been hurt so he could be on a different timeline. Also, he has a mustache and we have to keep those people in their own categories.

Blake Swihart

Now, we get into the guys we haven’t seen this year, and it’s a little surprising that Swihart fits into this group. Coming into the season, it was almost the expectation that Swihart would force his way to the majors after a couple months at Triple-A. Instead, due to injury and just plain bad performance, the former top prospect in the system has had a disappointing year. He’s back in Pawtucket after a lengthy stint on the disabled list, though he’s only catching a few times a week. Despite that, John Farrell mentioned him as a possible third catcher in September.

Steve Selsky

Selsky is on the 40-man roster, so I feel obligated to include him here. That being said, I’d be surprised to see the outfielder on the active roster at all this year. He was brought in because the team was in desperate need of some outfield depth in the spring, but he’s had a horribly disappointing year at Triple-A. He may not make it through the year on the 40-man.

Bryce Brentz

The biggest reason Selsky would be taken off the 40-man would be in favor of Brentz. The former Killer B was designated for assignment after spring training and somewhat surprisingly no team took a chance on his bat. He made them regret that all year long as he’s been one of the best power hitters in the entire minor leagues in 2017. They’ll need to make a move to get his bat on the active roster for September, but Selsky seems expendable enough. I wouldn’t be surprised if this move is made.

Jalen Beeks/Justin Haley

Finally, we have a couple other pieces of starting pitching depth. I’m not super confident if either or both or neither of these pitchers will be called up in September, but there’s a chance. They’ve both pitched well in Pawtucket — and Haley got some major-league time in Minnesota earlier this year as a Rule 5 pick — and they are both eligible for the Rule 5 draft this winter. The Red Sox will need to add both to the 40-man roster in November, so they could feasibly decide to get it done early and do it in September. The biggest reason they may not do that is the fact that they already have some solid starting pitching depth in Fister, Johnson and Velazquez.