The Red Sox and Astros get their ALCS series started on Friday, and rosters have been released this morning ahead of that series opener. The Red Sox roster can be seen here. We won’t go through the whole roster again as it is largely the same as the ALDS group with just a couple of minor tweaks.
On the position player side of things, it is exactly the same. Danny Santana once again does make the roster over either or both of Jarren Duran and Jonathan Araúz, likely because Santana can play both outfield and infield while also being able to add speed off the bench. As I said last round, I think I’d prefer to just carry one fewer pitcher and roster both Duran and Araúz, but it’s certainly understandable to want the extra arm, especially after what we saw the last round. If you are carrying 13 pitchers, this is probably the right move and at least a defensible one even if I don’t think Santana is a particularly good major-league player.
The pitching side did see a couple of changes in the bottom tier of the bullpen. Some thought maybe Martín Pérez would be taken off, but the Red Sox opted to keep the lefty, presumably for the sole purpose of soaking up innings on a potential blow out in either direction to save the other arms. The two pitchers who did get removed were Matt Barnes and Austin Davis, with Hirokazu Sawamura and Darwinzon Hernandez being added.
The Barnes for Sawamura swap makes plenty of sense to me. There are concerns with Sawamura and specifcially with his walk rate, but those same issues are with Barnes, who just doesn’t have anything right now. He was a late addition to the ALDS roster, and was shaky in his one appearance. Sawamura isn’t likely to pitch any important innings anyway unless a game goes deep into extras.
The lefty swap of Hernandez for Davis is a bit more puzzling to me. The Astros hit lefties very well so there might not be a ton of opportunities to play matchups, and Hernandez is someone I trust a bit more against righties than Davis. So that is a point in his favor. I also wonder if they want to carry the better strikeout pitcher to try and get some whiffs against a team who generally makes a lot of contact. I think you could very well argue the opposite strategy is prudent, going with Davis and his lower walk rate, but I could see the case either way.
But for the most part I trust Davis right now in the right matchups than I do Hernandez. It’s clear the team doesn’t feel that way, though, not only because he’s not on this roster but really for the simple fact that he’s been out of their gameplan for at least a month now. All that being said, though, neither Sawamura nor Hernandez should be playing big roles in this series, so the effects in theory are marginal at best.