The Red Sox have announced their ALDS roster, and there aren’t a ton of surprises here. As we’ve talked about numerous times over the last few weeks, there were really only three spots up for grabs. One of those was on the position player side of things, and the other two were the final couple spots in the bullpen. Let’s take a look at who made the cut.
Position Players (14)
Sandy León, Blake Swihart, Christian Vazquez, Mitch Moreland, Steve Pearce, Ian Kinsler, Brock Holt, Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Eduardo Núñez, Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez
There was only one spot up for grabs here, and it probably wasn’t so much up for grabs in reality as perhaps some of us wanted it to be. That was the post eventually won by Christian Vazquez, with Tzu-Wei Lin as the only other real competitor. Lin would have been a better option as a pinch-runner (and I would have chosen him over Vazquez) but they clearly have a plan here. Specifically, it seems they are planning to pair León with the starter of any given game and then pinch hitting for him in the middle of every game. I’m not sure that means you need a third catcher, but clearly they feel otherwise.
Really, the big questions with this group is how the starting playing time is going to be deviated. Steve Pearce is going to start against lefties at first base, but will he steal starts against righties in favor of the struggling Moreland? Brock Holt has been red-hot for two months now, but will he be able to sneak in to any starting spots? Specifically, is he going to overtake Ian Kinsler, who is clearly the better defensive player but has scuffled at the plate with the Red Sox? Was Rafael Devers’ hot streak to end the year enough to overtake Eduardo Núñez as an every day player? Will they platoon? There are a lot of different roads they can take, and I’d expect a lot of pinch hitting and defensive replacements throughout this series.
Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Nathan Eovaldi
Craig Kimbrel, Matt Barnes, Eduardo Rodriguez, Ryan Brasier, Steven Wright, Joe Kelly, Brandon Workman
The final spots of the bullpen were where the real questions were for this roster, and while the hope is that these spots ultimately won’t matter too much, obviously things don’t always go according to plan. Ultimately, it came down to two spots between anywhere from four to six names. The guys who did not make it were: Heath Hembree, Bobby Poyner, Brian Johnson and Hector Velazquez. Kelly and Workman, instead, got the nods. Kelly has been all over the place this year, though he did struggle down the stretch with an 8.31 ERA in September. He has the upside to be a huge part of this bullpen, but there’s plenty of downside as well. As for Workman, he was a little more consistent over the course of the year but he also never showed the highs of Kelly. That Workman played a big role in the run to the 2013 championship probably didn’t hurt his case. Ultimately, the success of the bullpen will lie more on the top five names, but if Kelly and/or Workman struggle in any loss in this series, look for plenty of second-guessing. Personally, I probably would have went with Hembree, but really I don’t you could feel great about any combination of the possible choices.