Race to 25: Update on the Red Sox Roster Battles

Mar 9, 2016; Bradenton, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox infielder Travis Shaw (47) celebrates with his teammates after hitting a two run home run in the first inning of the spring training game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at McKechnie Field. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 9, 2016; Bradenton, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox infielder Travis Shaw (47) celebrates with his teammates after hitting a two run home run in the first inning of the spring training game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at McKechnie Field. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports /
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Jun 30, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Tommy Layne (59) delivers a pitch against Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 30, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Tommy Layne (59) delivers a pitch against Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

SECOND LEFT-HANDER IN THE BULLPEN

The Red Sox have two spots in their bullpen for left-handed pitchers.  The first spot will be filled by Robbie Ross, who is capable of getting batters out on both sides of the plate and can be relied on for three outs regardless of who is due up for the opposing team.  The second spot tends to be filled by a specialist; someone you can rely on in a high-leverage situation to get a left-handed batter out.

Entering Spring Training, the favorite for the second spot was Tommy Layne.  Although Layne was quite good against left-handed batters last season, it is a bit surprising that the Red Sox have really brought in no competition for him, or even for Ross.  They seem to be quite comfortable heading into the season with Ross and Layne as their lefties out of the bullpen, which is fine based on their performances this spring, but still surprising.

If anyone is going to compete for the second spot, it is Roenis Elias.  Assuming Elias is not given a spot in the rotation, the Red Sox may turn to him as a bullpen option.  In fact, he is slated to work in relief in Sunday’s game.

The Candidates

  1. Tommy Layne
  2. Roenis Elias

The State of the Competition

Layne has been very good this spring, compiling a 2.25 ERA over four innings of work.  More impressive though is the fact he has struck out three while walking zero, and opponents are only hitting .214 off him.

As discussed in the previous slide, Elias pitched two scoreless innings in a start this week.  He is scheduled to make his first relief appearance today.

The Leaderboard

The clear-cut favorite at this point is Layne and deservedly so.  He has looked very sharp this spring, while Elias has yet to show he can perform well in such a role.  Without a chance to come into a game for an inning to see how Elias’ stuff would play in that type of situation, it will be tough for the Red Sox to let go of Layne, who is out of minor league options.

Next: Fifth RHP in the Bullpen