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OTM Roundtable: Who’s the biggest boost?

Among those who are not here.

Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images

The Red Sox are in a bad way and need as much help as they can get. For the most part, a recovery in the standings is only going to happen due to the players who are already here, but some players who are not yet here could as well. For this week’s roundtable, I asked who among players not currently on the active roster could provide the most help. That includes injured players, those on rehab, and prospects who could be called up.

Scott Neville

Christian Arroyo is going to provide the biggest boost of any player not on the active roster. Between adding Kyle Schwarber last week and Arroyo any day now, the lineup will be much improved down the stretch. His return will allow Kiké Hernández to move back to center field. Ideally, Schwarber will be able to handle playing first base. In that scenario, the Boston Red Sox will be at their strongest point. The back of the lineup will not be automatic outs for seemingly the first time this season. Arroyo coming back healthy would allow Alex Cora to put all of the right pieces into place. Last time Arroyo was healthy for an extended stretch of time he was the most clutch hitter on the team. Not only can he rake in the seventh spot of the order, but he also has yet to make an error at second base.

Michael Walsh

I’ll think a bit outside the box and say the return of Darwinzon Hernandez would provide the biggest boost for the Sox down the stretch. There’s definitely an argument for Christian Arroyo, especially given his early-season heroics, but the Sox’ lineup is already both deep and versatile. Between the recent acquisitions of Kyle Schwarber and Travis Shaw, Jarren Duran’s call-up, and depth pieces like Danny Santana and Franchy Cordero, the Red Sox just don’t have enough spots for everyone in the lineup. The same cannot be said for the bullpen. Deadline additions Hansel Robles and Austin Davis have not been getting the job done, and the Sox could sure use another flamethrower coming out of the ‘pen. Yes, Hernandez has struggled with walks, but his nasty stuff and high strikeout numbers will be a huge help. He certainly has the potential to be the kind of reliever fans were hoping to add at the deadline.

Jake Devereaux

To me the biggest boost to this team will come with Christian Arroyo getting healthy and being a weapon off the bench. Arroyo has been clutch all season long posting his best wRC+, a staggering mark of 247, in high leverage situations. Similarly, he has posted a 145 wRC+, also his highest mark, with men in scoring position, better than what he was able to accomplish with the bases empty or simply men on base. In addition to this he can spell Kiké Hernandez at second or Xander Bogaerts at short, both players have been leaned upon heavily this season and could use days off down the stretch to stay fresh. Arroyo has won me over with his clutch pinch hitting skills and his irrationally high confidence. He’s having the best season of his career at the right time and if the Red Sox make the playoffs there is no doubt in my mind that he’ll have some special playoff moments.

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

Steven Brown

Christian Arroyo stands out as the most notable absence on a team that desperately needs both offensive productivity from the lineup and a positive mindset around the clubhouse. Even when Arroyo is not starting, his presence is still very evident when things do go right for Boston. Once Arroyo is activated and getting regular at-bats again, the club can only hope that he can find a way to find the magic that has made him such an asset in the first half of the season. Clutch hit after clutch hit, Arroyo has done nothing but shine in big moments when called upon. Over the course of numerous games in the past few weeks, Boston has not found a way to capitalize on big spots, as spectators and the team alike have been vocal about during post-game interviews.

It is unrealistic to infer that Arroyo will be activated and come through in every big-time situation here forth, but one must at least entertain the thought of what the outcome in some recent exhibitions could have been should Arroyo been penciled in that lineup or on the bench waiting for his name to be called. Not only is the second baseman a clutch hitter in crucial situations, but a good player overall. Fortunately for Boston, he is expected to be back with the team after completing yet another IL stint.

Shelly Verougstraete

I think the return of Christian Arroyo is going to be huge. He seemed to always step up in those big time game moments. They currently have Jonathan Araúz on the active roster and he has only come in as a pinch runner this week.

Bob Osgood

Christian Arroyo is currently on a rehab assignment in Worcester and is likely to join the team at some point this weekend against Texas at Fenway. Will he slot into the cleanup spot and singlehandedly fix the devastating RISP issues the Sox have had since the all-star break? No. He may not even be an everyday player, but I’d be surprised if Alex Cora didn’t give him every opportunity to be that if he comes back and hits in key spots, which he has done all year. Arroyo started eight of the nine games before his trip to the IL, even starting him at first base despite having zero experience, which led to said IL trip. He knows how important Arroyo is to this team, and his absence over the last month-plus has been greatly understated.

Of all the appalling things I’ve watched on my television the last three weeks and appalling stats I’ve seen on various forums while quickly losing a 10.5 game lead on the Yankees, this tweet from @redsoxstats on Twitter was most glaring. A complete inability to perform under pressure (in “high leverage”) on the mound and at the plate from almost every player on the team. Arroyo had no shortage of big moments when he was in the lineup this season, with several go-ahead home runs including a pinch-hit 467 foot Slammage (Eck-speak) against Atlanta in a key 10-8 victory in late June. Arroyo is hitting .318 with 3 HR and 14 RBI in 25 PAs with 2-out & RISP, has a .381 BA in Late & Close scenarios, .333 BA in tie games, and a .348 BA in one-run games. He also brings an immediate spark to the clubhouse with bat flips like this.

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

Phil Neuffer

As I’m writing this, Tanner Houck is not technically on the active roster, but picking him feels like cheating since we know he’ll be back up relatively soon. With that in mind, I think the Red Sox could benefit from getting Yairo Muñoz some plate appearances. Jarren Duran hasn’t taken to MLB pitching very quickly, so having another solid hitting outfielder could help, especially since Muñoz did pretty well in 45 plate appearances with Boston last year and has been tearing it up in Triple-A. That’s not to say the Red Sox should give up on Duran, but after they scored all of five runs across three games against the Yankees this past week, the offense could use a boost beyond just waiting for the Orioles to come to town again.

Mike Carlucci

It’s a little bit of a cheat since he’s had a few stints with the Red Sox so far but I’m going with Christian Arroyo. He’s 26, has out up almost an .800 OPS as a utility player. As we all remember with Brock Holt \o/ this is a valuable addition! Alex Cora has had a nightmare all season keeping a full bench even as health for the team overall has been only a small issue. While basically the whole team has been available aside from a few days here and there, it hasn’t always matched their depth requirements. Having Kyle Schwarber is great but a quality bat was really needed in the weeks waiting for him to recover from injury after the trade. And Schwarber can’t play the infield. Arroyo might just be having a good year or he’s a really valuable player in the midst of a breakout and fluke injuries have taken him down. This team has looked bad but swapping one name at the bottom of the lineup with Christian Arroyo every night might change things around pretty quick.

Bayleigh Von Schneider

Aside from Chris Sale and Kyle Schwarber, there is someone on the injured list that gives the 2021 team a major boost for the final stretch, and that person is Christian Arroyo. Arroyo has unfortunately spent a good deal of this season on the injured list, but when healthy, Arroyo is slashing .271/.327/.465, with an OPS of .792, a 115 wRC+ and a 1.3 fWAR. Arroyo has been such a steal since claimed off waivers from Cleveland in 2020. Upon Arroyo’s return, and with the team at full health, the lineup could look something like this:

Hernández CF

Verdugo LF

Bogaerts SS

Devers 3B

Martinez DH

Schwarber 1B

Renfroe RF

Vázquez C

Arroyo 2B

Having someone that gets on base, and puts good contact on the baseball, like Arroyo, hitting ninth in a lineup, forces opposing pitchers to work harder for outs. The lineup hasn’t been producing to the best of their abilities, and quite frankly it has been a bit of a head-scratcher. The whole lineup has seemingly been in an anti-clutch slump. The concept of hitting in the clutch can be of value, just look at how many times David Ortiz was clutch. If there’s one thing Arroyo has done in 2021, it is that he’s actually hit in the clutch. Arroyo also brings a spark and a lightness to the clubhouse, something this team desperately needs at the moment. The 2021 season is far from over. The team is finally getting back to full health. No one ever said capturing a playoff spot would be an easy feat.

Brendan Campbell

I believe that Christian Arroyo will provide the Red Sox with the biggest boost down the final stretch of the season. Since going down with a left hamstring strain on July 18, the Red Sox offense has at times struggled to score runs without Arroyo consistently in their lineup. They are also 13-16 since Arroyo was placed on the 10-day injured list on July 19.

That being said, it looks like Arroyo could be activated off the injured list at some point during this weekend’s series against the Rangers if all goes well with his rehab assignment in Worcester, so I definitely think he could make an impact upon his return to the Red Sox. Not only has the 26-year-old been willing to play a new position (first base) this season for the betterment of the team, but he also seems to provide a spark of energy given his playing style and the way he goes about his business. So, with that, I’m looking forward to seeing Arroyo back at Fenway hopefully pretty soon.

Matt Collins

I figured Arroyo would be the most popular answer, but I will admit to being a little surprised by how popular of a choice he is here. I’ll go in a different direction. I was tempted to go way off board and pick Triston Casas, but the trouble so many prospects are having with the jump to the majors, combined with his fine but not great performance in Double-A probably makes that too aggressive. So I’ll go with Eduard Bazardo. He’s still working his way back from injury, but he was my sleeper in the bullpen coming into the year, and this group still needs more depth. Ryan Brasier is a safer choice, but Bazardo excites me more so I’ll go in that direction.