The Red Sox are in the postseason, which is rather incredible, but there is no rest for the weary. As they get set for a one-game, winner-take-all affair against the Yankees on Tuesday, the team is going to have to determine what their roster will look like as well as how it will be deployed in the game. Obviously no one can predict how the game will unfold, but teams will have a broad plan to which they hope to stick and make it through the entire evening with a win.
Below we’re going to try our hand at building out the lineup, bench, and general gameplan. Just a couple of reminders before we do. One, remember that this is a postseason game, meaning the rosters go back down to 26 after being at 28 since September 1. Additionally, while he played a big role in getting the team to this point, José Iglesias is not eligible for the postseason as he was acquired after September 1. With that, here’s how I’d play things.
- Kiké Hernández, CF
- Kyle Schwarber, LF
- Xander Bogaerts, SS
- Rafael Devers, 3B
- J.D. Martinez, DH
- Alex Verdugo, RF
- Bobby Dalbec, 1B
- Christian Vázquez, C
- Christian Arroyo, 2B
A few crucial notes here. For one thing, I would personally have Schwarber leading off and Devers hitting second, but it’s pretty clear that is not on the table so it’s not worth putting in place even for this thought exercise. Secondly, Martinez’s status is still up in the air given the sprained ankle he suffered Sunday. If he cannot go, Schwarber shifts to DH, Verdugo moves to left and Renfroe enters the starting lineup as the right fielder. Verdugo versus Renfroe is a tough choice, but for the reasons I talked about earlier this morning as well as a point to be made in the bench section, I go Verdugo.
Otherwise, I think it’s mostly straight forward. The other big decision to make largely centers around second base. Because of the aforementioned Iglesias playing so well, Arroyo has not really been able to take too many swings. There’s an argument, then, to move Hernández to second and put either Verdugo or Renfroe in center field. To me, the defensive questions are just too large in that scenario, though. I think you roll with this to start and be aggressive with pinch hitting if Arroyo comes up in a big spot.
Starting Pitcher (1)
Duh. No need talking about this one.
The first three spots are straight forward. Again, Renfroe could be in the starting lineup depending on the status of Martinez. Having Renfroe on the bench, though, would serve another big purpose, which is to provide some offense from the right side of the plate. This is a big hole for this team right now, and with the Yankees having a handful of very good left-handed options in their bullpen with Aroldis Chapman as well as guys like Wandy Peralta and Lucas Luetge, having that right-handed option late could very well turn this game.
If Martinez is inactive and Renfroe goes to the starting lineup, there’s not a great Plan B in Worcester. In that case, you might consider someone like Connor Wong, whose presence would make it easier to use Plawecki as a hitter so you don’t have to worry about a lack of catching on the bench.
Plawecki and Shaw are straight forward and have been a part of the bench for some time now, the former for the whole season. Duran and Araúz are the extra additions. Duran should be a more complete contributor down the road, but for as long as the Red Sox are in the postseason he’s largely a speed play. We’ve seen forever players like Terrance Gore and Quintin Berry, whose game-changing speed made them October mainstays even if their season-long production was either poor or non-existent. Duran has that kind of speed, and having him as a late-game running option is a must for the Red Sox.
That just leaves us with Araúz, who really just serves as insurance for the chance of Arroyo being hit for and the team needing an infielder. Theoretically they could also move Hernández into the infield with Duran entering as a center fielder, but A, that hurts the outfield defense and B, it potentially takes Duran off the table as a late-game running option. In a one-game scenario I certainly feel comfortable pulling one of my pitchers off the roster and adding an extra player to my bench. Remember, if they do advance they can submit a new roster for the ALDS.
Garrett Whitlock (RHP)
Adam Ottavino (RHP)
Hansel Robles (RHP)
Matt Barnes (RHP)
Garrett Richards (RHP)
Ryan Brasier (RHP)
Tanner Houck (RHP)
Darwinzon Hernandez (LHP)
Austin Davis (LHP)
Chris Sale (LHP)
Eduardo Rodriguez (LHP)
Ultimately, for me, the final cut was Nick Pivetta, though that was not an easy decision. I think he provides a really great weapon out of the bullpen, and could very easily be persuaded into putting him back on in the place of Sale, Rodriguez, Davis, or Hernandez. My only concern was the relative lack of left-handed pitching versus right-handed, as well as the fact that he just pitched to close Sunday’s game.
As far as the usage, this is where I think the team will try to have a plan in place if things go as well as possible. To me, the goal is to get five from Eovaldi. If he’s shoving I would certainly entertain the idea of him going longer, but the base plan is for him to go five. From there, I hand off to Houck and Ottavino to get through the seventh, and then turn to Whitlock for the final two innings. Again, things can go off the rails, and matchups may dictate a veer off course. I certainly don’t think it’d behoove Alex Cora to go into this with any rigid thinking. That said, if you’re mapping out your best-case scenario (realistically, at least), I think you’re going in with these 11, but hoping to just need Houck, Ottavino, and Whitlock.