The biggest question for the Red Sox got its first answer on Saturday, as the Red Sox sent three pitchers down to minor-league camp, leaving them just with the thirteen arms who are going to break camp with the squad on Opening Day in Seattle. First of all, the players optioned were Darwinzon Hernandez, Bobby Poyner and Marcus Walden, with the former being send down to Double-A and the latter two to Triple-A.
As you can see, Juan Centeno and Gorkys Hernández were also taken off the major-league roster, though there’s no surprises there. As for the pitchers removed, Hernández wasn’t a huge surprise. He opened some eyes with his performance this spring, but the southpaw has to work on his command before he can reach his full potential in the majors. Plus, he’s still going to get a chance to make it as a starting pitcher beginning the year in Portland’s rotation. Poyner and Walden were a bit more surprising to see go, just because both had performed reasonably well this spring. Granted, we know spring performance is far from the be-all end-all of roster decisions, but in a battle like this is plays some role. Even starting the year in Pawtucket, they’ll get their chance in the majors at some point.
Meanwhile, here are the eight relievers who will be starting the year on the major-league roster.
- Matt Barnes
- Ryan Brasier
- Tyler Thornburg
- Brandon Workman
- Heath Hembree
- Brian Johnson
- Hector Velázquez
- Colten Brewer
Earlier in the week, Alex Cora had said three spots were up for grabs, but those top six spots always seemed all but certain to be filled by the names here. It was really the top two spots up for grabs. Velázquez is the biggest surprise to me, as he as had a terrible spring. Again, that’s not everything but it’s hard to say it doesn’t matter at all. That said, he did spend all of 2018 in the majors so he always had an upper-hand for this spot. Brewer was a pre-camp favorite to get this spot, and while he was inconsistent in camp he came on strong towards the end and showed flashes of his potential throughout.
So, now the pitching staff is set and there are just two more decisions to be made for the Red Sox roster. The first is what will happen with the catchers, as there are still three on the roster. With Sandy León’s name coming up in trade rumors earlier this week he appears to be the odd man out. Additionally, Steve Pearce has been slowed by injury and it’s unclear if he’ll be ready for the start of the year. If he is not ready to go, Sam Travis may take his spot as a right-handed complement to Mitch Moreland.