By Aaron Jackson
With the Red Sox division title comes the chance to take a couple days and take stock in what the team has as they get set to play Thursday against the Houston Astros who took 3 of 4 from the Sox to end the season. My guess is much of that time will be spent relaxing and letting those nagging injuries heal, but John Farrell and company also have a tough roster situation on their hands. Here’s my best guess as to who’s in and who the Red Sox will leave off of the playoff roster as they begin the ALDS.
- Catcher: Locks – Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon. Part of me wishes that the Sox could get away with only carrying one catcher given how good Vazquez has been at the plate. Unfortunately the risk of injury leaves teams hamstrung at the position unless they have another player with some catching experience playing another position, which Boston does not. So 2 spots get locked up right away.
- Infielders: Locks – Mitch Moreland, Dustin Pedroia, Xander Boegarts, Rafael Devers, Hanley Ramirez. Questionable – Brock Holt, Eduardo Nunez, Deven Marrero. More wishful thinking here, but I’d love a scenario where you didn’t have to depend on Pedroia to play every day (he hit only .240 in September after missing all of August) or Brock Holt (barely made it over the Mendoza line on the season), but this is where we are. Nunez is still dealing with knee issues, and I wouldn’t be shocked if he’s deemed unable to play at least for the ALDS. That leaves Holt and Marrero as your only backups, and given Pedroia’s status you’ll need them both. My honest guess is that Nunez, despite saying he’ll be ready, is the odd man out because of health issues, allowing an extra bullpen arm. I hope I’m wrong.
- Outfielders: Locks – Jackie Bradley, Jr, Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi. Questionable – Rajai Davis, Chris Young. I put the last two in the questionable category only because I’ve given up on trying to read John Farrell’s mind. At one point last year he played the players producing over the “stars”, but this year he seems to have reversed that stance some. I still think Davis makes it over Young, but it wouldn’t completely shock me if roles were reversed.
- Starters: Locks – Chris Sale, Drew Pomeranz. Questionable – Eduardo Rodriguez, Doug Fister, Rick Porcello. At one point we were debating that third man in the rotation as a good thing, with 3 viable options. Oh, how things change. Now all 3 at the bottom have seen some major struggles. My personal preference is letting Fister have a shot. He’s been probably the most consistent of the 3, and I feel like he’s the least likely to get blown up in the first two innings. Porcello gives up too many long balls and Rodriguez is just too inconsistent to get the job done.
- Bullpen: Locks – Craig Kimbrel, Joe Kelly, Carson Smith, David Price, Addison Reed. Questionable – Brandon Workman, Heath Hembree, Matt Barnes, Robby Scott, Hector Velazquez, Robby Scott, Fernando Abad, Austin Maddox, Rodriguez, Porcello. There are others that could be included on this list but this seems to be the usual suspects. Workman was phenomenal earlier in the season, but has struggled lately. Barnes has been too inconsistent lately to count on. I’m going to give a spot to Austin Maddox based solely on the hope that Farrell takes a chance. He’s been great when given the chance all season. I’m also inclined to believe that Rodriguez will get a spot, just because he’s less likely to give up a long ball compared to Porcello. I actually think we’ll see Hector Velazquez make the team as well. He’s proven to be capable in long relief. That leaves one spot left, which I think will go to Hembree. It just feels like he’s the least likely to blow a lead. That means Workman, Barnes, Scott, Abad, and Porcello get left off. Porcello is the least likely of that group to actually not make the cut.
Aaron Jackson (@AaronRJackson on Twitter) is a co-host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.