The Boston Red Sox are 83-53 and with only 16 games remaining they have a very good chance at playing a playoff series in October. Their magic numbers are 8 to clinch a playoff spot and 14 to clinch their second straight AL East Division crown. In all likelihood, Boston will have a postseason spot wrapped up by the conclusion of their final road trip, on September 24th, against the Cincinnati Reds.
Catchers (2): Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez
Infielders (7): Xander Bogaerts, Marco Hernandez, Aaron Hill, Brock Holt, Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez, Travis Shaw
Outfielders (4): Jackie Bradley Jr., Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, Chris Young
DH (1): David Ortiz
Around the diamond, 3B Rafael Devers, SS Xander Bogaerts, INF Eduardo Nunez, 2B Dustin Pedroia & 1B Mitch Moreland will all make the 25-man 2017 ALDS Roster. There really aren’t any other candidates to take away these spots from these players. The only hesitation I could see Farrell having, if at all, would be with keeping Bogey. However, when you look at the rest of the roster, there isn’t one guy who can give you what Bogaerts can. Holt and Marrero are not as gifted defensively or on the base paths & if you want to include Tzu-Wei Li, none of those 3 players are as experienced as Xander.
Hanley will be on the ALDS roster as the designated hitter, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him play 1B against LHP. Dustin Pedroia or Eduardo Nunez are fantastic candidates to DH in Hanley’s place & I wouldn’t hate seeing Moreland coming in as a defensive replacement late in games or as a pinch-hitter, which is something he’s excelled at. Another option would to play Vazquez at DH when Sale pitches & sit Moreland or Hanley, but either way, Hanley will be on the roster.
To fill in the remaining 6 roster spots John Farrell will be faced with some tough decisions. With his injury-prone infield, I’d assume Brock Holt would be a valuable piece to the Sox bench. Holt can play every infield position but catcher and pitcher, so if something were to happen to Nunez, Bogaerts or Pedroia, who’ve all been banged up, Holt could spell some innings for them. Additionally, Holt is a decent outfielder so he could be utilized there if needed. So let’s tack on Holt as the 6th infielder.
With that being said, I would expect Rajai Davis to make the roster as well. His speed places him amongst the best base-stealers in baseball, and if you know anything about the year 2004, you’ll know how important a pinch-runner can be. Davis is also well-tooled in the outfield, so he could become a defensive replacement in blow-out games.
That would leave 4 roster spots to add more pitching. No matter who the Sox face in October, whether it be HOU or CLE, hell even NYY, they’ll be facing a more dominant offense. Cleveland is currently on a 22 game winning streak, Houston has been at the top of many AL offensive categories and has carried the best record in the AL for the majority of the season & New York hits a TON of home runs. The best way to fight combat these offenses is with timely pitching, using favorable pitcher/batter match-ups and keeping fresh arms.
With only 3 spots available and only 2 left-handed pitchers in the bullpen, I’d expect Farrell to add at least one more southpaw. That would leave the choices down to 2, immediately eliminating rarely-used, Pawtucket call up Roenis Elias,: Robby Scott and Fernando Abad. This should be an easy decision to make for Farrell as Abad has more strikeouts, innings pitched, a better ERA, less walks issued, fewer home runs allowed and a better overall record. Adding Abad will alleviate some of the pressure on right-handed pitchers to face lefties in the late part of games.
Now that leaves the final spot open. Farrell could add a bat or a glove, in Young or Marrero. He could certainly give Velazquez or Elias a chance to see what postseason baseball looks and feels like. I don’t know how he feels about Tzu-Wei Lin or if he believes tsunamis have a place in baseball, but I do know this last roster spot should go to a player that can help & to a player who will actually be on the team next year.
The 2016 AL Cy Young leads the world in the categories a pitcher doesn’t want to lead the world in. Hits, Home Runs, and Losses. Currently owning a 4.64 ERA, one of the only positive things you can say about Porcello’s season is that he’s stayed healthy. Porcello hasn’t missed a start and I think that speaks to his consistency to stay healthy and strong. He could be a valuable part of the bullpen due to his strikeout capabilities, but I think after his tumultuous year, Porcello should take the series off. The bullpen is loaded with arms, he has no place starting a game & a little time off might be good for his mental and physical status. I’m not saying he wouldn’t make the ALCS if the Red Sox were to advance further, but leaving Porcello off the ALDS roster is a decision Farrell should make.
Pitchers(12): Chris Sale, Drew Pomeranz, Doug Fister, Eduardo Rodriguez, David Price, Carson Smith, Fernando Abad, Austin Maddox, Addison Reed, Brandon Workman, Joe Kelly, Craig Kimbrel
Catchers(2): Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez
Infielders(6): Rafael Devers, Eduardo Nunez, Xander Bogaerts, Dustin Pedroia, Mitch Moreland, Brock Holt
Outfielders(4): Jackie Bradley Jr., Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, Rajai Davis
DH(1): Hanley Ramirez
Regardless of who makes the roster, the Red Sox are definitely looking forward to another chance at a title run. Last year ended so suddenly and it’s possible the Red Sox peaked too early as they tore it up in September of 2016. Red Sox Nation is also looking forward to Red Sox postseason baseball because Autumn in New England is never as beautiful without the Red Sox.
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