So the Red Sox are definitely going into the playoffs, with home field for as long as they are in it. The question has become how long the Sox will actually be, ya know, in it. With recent history suggesting a first round exit is likely, there’s no end of worry that this year will be the same as the past couple of years.
Naturally, this leads to wondering how the Red Sox can avoid this fate. The best the Red Sox can really do is destroy the Yankees, and hope that the Athletics overtake the Yankees for the top wild card spot, but that may be asking for too much right now. So outside of this, what can the Sox do?
Put their best foot forward. That’s what.
Here’s what some commenters thought:
What they (each) said:
Eldon - Basically, we’re leaving the following active players off: Xander Bogaerts (I’m about 900% positive this was just an unfortunate mind-blank, because there’s no one who would really leave him off, so I’ll give Eldon a mulligan on this one - feel free to comment who you’d remove to put Xander back on the roster), Tzu-Wei Lin, Brandon Phillips, Sam Travis, Heath Hembree, Tyler Thornburg, Bobby Poyner, Robby Scott, Hector Velazquez, William Cuevas, and Drew Pomeranz.
tb12ftw - See above, but Xander is in, Kelly is out, Johnson is out, Poyner is in. Explanation for why certain players were omitted, which makes sense.
I can’t disagree with any of the omissions (on either roster) to be honest, outside of the obvious error on Eldon’s. The biggest gripe I “might” have is not finding a spot for Lin, who has been great off the bench this September, and carries utility value, similar to Swihart’s current role on the proposed roster.
My proposal would involve removing Vazquez from the roster, and putting Lin in his place. Swihart would share catching duties with Leon (I still believe I’d play Leon over Swihart for the time being, but it is not the slam dunk it was a month ago), while Lin took the utility role.
It’s a small sample size, but when given opportunities, Lin has impressed. Having a player like Lin on the bench, who can come in, and be a spark in a worst case scenario where a player (anywhere) gets hurt, and needs to be replaced? That can be absolutely invaluable.
It’s important to remember, Eldon’s FanPost is a prediction, not his declaration of what they would hope to see in the playoffs.
What they said - The playoff rotation is a lot more muddled than we believe it to be. Sure, you have Chris Sale, but if the Yankees win the Wild Card game, the Red Sox may have to get creative. David Price has been great, but you can’t ignore his less than stellar starts against the Yankees. There’s a case that putting Nathan Eovaldi and Rick Porcello in swapped positions actually makes us better. Eduardo Rodriguez coming out of the pen may be vital. You could even pitch Price out of the pen.
There’s a lot to digest here. The main thing I want to talk about, with regards to this FanPost, is David Price, Steven Wright, and Eduardo Rodriguez. I think Sale/Porcello are what they are. You more or less expect a certain result out of them, and I think we know what we are getting out of each of them.
When it comes to David Price in particular, it’s going to be like pulling teeth in many cases. Yes, David Price has been great this season. Yes, David Price has had a great game against the Yankees this season. Yes, David Price has also been terrible against the Yankees. But under no circumstances should David Price be a bullpen arm in October against the Yankees, given the current state of the rotation and bullpen.
Don’t get me wrong, David Price out of the bullpen would be an absolute asset, but the Red Sox need to get deep into games, and lower their reliance on the bullpen by whatever measure possible. David Price could pitch a few innings out of the pen and accomplish this goal, yes. But he can also pitch 6 innings reliably, if not more, and is one of the few pitchers presently on the roster we can say that about.
I propose the “long-men” out of the pen should be Wright and Rodriguez. In Rodriguez’s case, I think the results speak for themselves. He’s been great most of the season, and clearly needs to peter back his innings total, since he won’t be in the starting rotation, if reports of Eovaldi making the rotation stay true. A 3 inning performance out of Rodriguez to close out a Porcello or Sale start could end up making the difference, with how filthy his stuff has been.
Wright is less obvious, but he’s quietly had a remarkable season himself. I will never outright trust a knuckleball pitcher, but Wright is certainly capable of playing a disruptive role for a few innings, following the start of a pitcher like Eovaldi. These two pitchers can shorten the pen, and allow the Sox to keep Price - one of the team’s best pitchers - in the rotation to throw 6 or 7 innings. This will lower the reliance on fringe bullpen pieces like Heath Hembree or Brian Johnson. This can only be good for the Red Sox.
For fun, here’s my roster, with no explanations:
C (2) - Sandy Leon, Blake Swihart
IF (7) - Mitch Moreland, Steve Pearce, Ian Kinsler, Brock Holt, Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Eduardo Nunez
OF (3) - Jackie Bradley Jr, Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts
DH (1) - J.D. Martinez
SP (4) - Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Nathan Eovaldi
RP (7) - Eduardo Rodriguez, Steven Wright, Brandon Workman, Ryan Brasier, Bobby Poyner, Matt Barnes, Craig Kimbrel
I have 24 players listed. That’s because I can’t decide between Tzu-Wei Lin and Joe Kelly for the last roster spot. I do not trust Kelly, but we may not need Lin as badly as we need more bullpen reinforcements. Brain says Kelly, heart says Lin.