This weekend, I asked you to build your playoff roster. With the deadline closing in, this is a question the Red Sox have to answer themselves, and very soon. In the next two weeks, the Red Sox will decide on what fringe pieces will be granted the call, and which ones will just be September roster pieces.
What did the community think? Click the links to see their choices. I will be going over any surprises I find in the section below.
I guess we’re going to start with what may be my most controversial statement: agreeing with #SB7 about not being filled with confidence by Ryan Brasier. Credit to the man, he’s gotten success, and he’s probably going to be on the real playoff roster. He’s earned it and the rest of the bullpen hasn’t made it much of a debate.
Similarly to #SB7, I want to get Travis Lakins a call so we can see what he has. I have much more confidence in Lakins’ stuff to play up in October, but without seeing him in action in Boston, it’s just impossible to know. He will be a factor next year for certain.
#SB7 places Bobby Poyner on the roster over Brasier, wanting an additional lefty out of the pen. Without Poyner, the only other options are one of the starters (like David Price, which isn’t happening) or Drew Pomeranz (which would be disasteriffic). I feel like Poyner gets a bad rep for a bad game against the Yankees early in the season. He’s been more likely to get hit than Brasier (at least thus far), but he’s cut back on walks while posting respectable strikeout numbers for a lefty that I don’t think anyone is calling a power arm.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t trust Poyner, but I do think it’s important to carry a lefty (or even two) out of the bullpen in the playoffs, even if it’s just to get one or two outs. So I can see an argument for Poyner over Brasier if you are looking at it from a strategic standpoint, especially if you think Brasier’s numbers are a bit of smoke and mirrors.
There isn’t a real shock to note, but there’s one area in which yuj’s roster majorly differs from #SB7’s. The main thing I noted (and agree with) is the removal of Hector Velazquez.
During the season, Velazquez has played an important role: he’s often come in, pitched two respectable innings, and then departed. That’s of huge importance when your bullpen is tired, and he’s a crucial player for playing 162 games, and keeping the bullpen somewhat rested for any given day. He’s also gotten results, as his 2.25 ERA this season, over 65.2 IP is almost certainly an illusion.
Once the playoffs roll around, the need for resting players becomes less important, and thus, so too do the players who make their money being those player preservers. Velazquez has been a hero for the team this season, in many respects, but the way he can best be a hero in October, is to not be on the field at all.
In case of an injury, it’ll be nice to have him as a depth piece to bring in, if (heaven forbid) a starter goes down and we need somebody who can go several innings, but he doesn’t need to start on the playoff roster to fulfill that role. His role in October should be that of a “break glass in case of emergency” option.
The long man in yuj’s playoff roster is Nathan Eovaldi (and to some extent, Brian Johnson as well!) and I can’t disagree with the methodology if Eduardo Rodriguez is healthy. Someone needs to go to the pen, so why not a guy like Eovaldi, who is able to generate swings and misses something fierce this season?
On this roster, the big question is who gets the 25th slot. They logic out 21 “locks” and 3 players that should really be on the roster in addition to those 21. The last roster spot comes down to rostering a third catcher, an eighth reliever, or a position player not presently on the roster (either call-up or August trade).
Since a lot of the roster is carried over, I want to talk about what options in the minor leagues could make sense in that 25th man slot. The ones that come immediately to mind are Tzu-Wei Lin and Travis Lakins, but I also would like to mention Mike Shawaryn.
Lin’s role is obvious. Having another super-utility option off the bench takes pressure off Holt, and allows us to remove a player without worrying as much about who their replacement will be the rest of the game. He also plays the game with hustle, which comes in handy in October.
Lakins, similarly, has an obvious role. He’s completely dominated AAA (albeit, a small sample), and has seemingly turned the corner since becoming a reliever. His value next year is going to be important, but he can still play a role for the Red Sox in October. Having another option that might be better than Brandon Workman or Heath Hembree is not a bad thing at all.
The player that stands out the least, but may end up being the best, is Mike Shawaryn. As a starting pitcher, he’s made it all the way up to AAA this year, and has had decent peripherals in both AA and AAA on the season. He’s also shown the ability to consistently go 6 innings a game this year, as he’s averaging just under that per game right now. There’s talk about whether he can stick in the majors as a starter, obviously, but entering 2019, he may be the best AAA starting pitcher depth option the Red Sox have.
So why is he included, if he’s a starting pitcher? The Red Sox have a full rotation for the playoffs, and have to push Eovaldi or another arm to the pen as it is. As some have already observed, Shawaryn came in out of the bullpen last night. It was a planned exercise for him, as someone had to be the piggyback option that night, and it was either him or Justin Haley (who started the game).
What happened may be of interest: I’ll let the tweet speak for itself.
Down in Pawtucket RHP Mike Shawaryn just entered the game in relief in the 6th inning with the bases loaded and got a strikeout to end the inning. Noteworthy as all 54 appearances he’s made since he was drafted have been as a starting pitcher.— Ian Cundall (@IanCundall) August 19, 2018
At the time, the game was 1-0, with the other team threatening to put the game away right then and there. Shawaryn took no prisoners, and got the strikeout to put the cherry on top. It’s probably best he remains a starter, and continues to develop, but there’s an intriguing possibility of him also being a pen option for 2019, if multiple arms just don’t cut it for next year, and the Red Sox lose both of Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel.
While I’d say it’s a long-shot, it may be worth considering Shawaryn for a roster slot.
Here’s my own roster, almost completely devoid of explanation. I believe all the above has sort of captured my thoughts, so none of this should come as a huge surprise.
SP (4) - Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez
RP (7) - Nathan Eovaldi, Brian Johnson, Ryan Brasier, Tyler Thornburg, Heath Hembree, Matt Barnes, Craig Kimbrel
C (2) - Sandy Leon, Blake Swihart
IF (7) - Mitch Moreland, Ian Kinsler, Eduardo Nunez, Xander Bogaerts, Steve Pearce, Brock Holt, Rafael Devers
OF (4) - Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez
Above, I have 24 names. My 25th slot comes down to one question: Is Steven Wright healthy? If he is, my 25th slot goes to him. I may not trust the knuckleball, but I think he’s one of the 25 best players on the Red Sox. If he’s not, then I’d be giving serious thought to one of Travis Lakins or Mike Shawaryn, as said above. I do not trust Joe Kelly, Drew Pomeranz, or Hector Velazquez to be effective, so I’d rather try one of those two arms if Wright can’t go.
And that’s it! What’s your playoff roster?