The Red Sox have moved past their first postseason hurdle, beating the Yankees at Fenway Tuesday night 6-2 to punch their ticket to the ALDS. There they’ll be taking on the Rays, who finished with the AL’s best record despite playing in a division with three other 90-win clubs. All of that is to say the Red Sox will rightfully be underdogs in this series, which doesn’t mean they can’t win but does mean they’ll need to find every edge they can to make it on to the next round.
The first step on that quest is filling out the roster for the ALDS. This roster more or less has to stay the same through the entire series, and if any changes are made the player who is removed will be ineligible for the next series should they make it this far. Below is how I’d probably fill out the roster, with some notes on some of the key factors in the choices that are less clear.
Chrisitan Vázquez, Kevin Plawecki, Connor Wong
Bobby Dalbec, Christian Arroyo, Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Travis Shaw
Kyle Schwarber, J.D. Martinez, Alex Verdugo, Hunter Renfroe, Jarren Duran
Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Sale, Eduardo Rodriguez, Nick Pivetta
Garrett Whitlock, Tanner Houck, Garrett Richards, Adam Ottavino, Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Hansel Robles, Josh Taylor
A few key notes.
- We still don’t know the status of J.D. Martinez, which is obviously a big factor here. There is no structural damage, so I could see them using him even just as a pinch hitter who can be ran for after a key at bat late if necessary. The postseason is for specialized roles, and while Martinez is ideally a starter even if he serves as a right-handed bench option I think that’s to the team’s advantage. But obviously I have no idea how hurt he is, so I can’t say with anything close to certainty that he’ll be in. That said, until I hear otherwise I’ll act under the assumption he will be.
- On the position player side, the real question for me was who to get rid of between Duran, Wong, and Jonathan Araúz. I went back and forth many, many times. Duran would be there just for speed, Wong so that they could feel better about pinch hitting for their starting catcher early knowing they had another back up on the bench in case of a late injury to their second catcher, and Araúz to add some depth at a shallow area in the middle infield. Ultimately I decided it made the most sense to cut Araúz off because they do have other options in a pinch, but I really went back and forth between all of them many times. Ask me again in an hour and I might say Duran because, while they don’t have his speed, Araúz and Wong can both be used to run late in games as well. Either way, if Martinez is out they could just carry all three.
- The other thing they could do is bring on another pitcher. This bullpen seems one arm short to me, and there is certainly an argument to carrying another lefty especially. The Rays are masterful at playing matchups, so having lefties at your disposal to mix and match with would be beneficial. At the end of the day, though, I think the usage we’ll see from the starters (two of whom are lefties) will make it easier to go with eight relievers. If they did add on another arm — which, like the above point, I could be convinced that’s the right move — I might actually go with Darwinzon Hernandez over Austin Davis. I’m not sure how much I really believe it, but the Rays are a team that strikes out a lot so having that kind of overpowering stuff from Hernandez might be better in this specific matchup. In fact, I’ve talked myself into thinking they should bring on another lefty, whether it be Hernandez or Davis, if Martinez can’t go.