Red Sox 2017 postseason roster audition time is beginning
By Rick McNair
The Boston Red Sox are heading (hopefully) for the playoffs and that means roster spots for the division series and potential World Series. Good or bad impressions can be made in September.
Spring training stories often revolve around the speculation of a roster spot. This past spring the Boston Red Sox were in the fortunate situation of having very limited completion. A bullpen spot, a tussle for a starter and just what outcome would face Blake Swihart.
The postseason roster is also about competition, but competition that happened during the season. With a dose of need tossed in.
"Per Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement, players must meet certain criteria in order to be eligible for postseason play.Players must be on the 40-man roster, the 60-day disabled list or the bereavement/family medical emergency list as of midnight ET on Aug. 31 to be eligible for their respective clubs’ postseason rosters. Consequently, players that are acquired via September trades or signed as free agents in September are ineligible for postseason play. – Postseason Eligibility"
The extra season can create a hero out of a little known or used player. The first I recalled was Dusty Rhodes who came off the bench in the 1954 World Series to get four hits in six at-bats – good for a pair of home runs and seven RBI. The last is now with Boston – Rajai Davis – whose late Game 7 home run almost won it all for Cleveland in 2016.
More from BoSox Injection
- Red Sox Nation deserves far more from Fenway Sports Group
- Bizarre trade deadline comes back to haunt Red Sox after Nathan Eovaldi departure
- Red Sox’ Moneyball-style offseason continues with Corey Kluber contract
- Rich Hill’s Red Sox departure puts him within striking distance of unique MLB record
- Red Sox offseason takes another nasty hit with Nathan Eovaldi departure
Roster selections break hearts and break ego’s as no one – especially a professional ballplayer – wants to be told “you’re not good enough” or “You’re not needed.” Just ask Tim Wakefield. The postseason is more about ego than money unless it magically leads to that rare big financial score – think Pablo Sandoval.
The first noted crunch is pitching. The postseason has built-in off days and that means rest and a shrinkage to the normal five man starting rotation. The rotation generally decreases to four with odd man out consigned to the bullpen. In 2016 that was the fate of Drew Pomeranz, but not this season.
The debate will intensify if David Price miraculously recovers and moves into the rotation. If Mr. Personality is shuttled off to the bullpen, he will in all probability join another starter in long relief or short relief or even medium relief. Usually, an 11 man staff if the postseason so the sensitive types must be aware.
The postseason comes down to the matchups. The Red Sox have employed a speed merchant with excellent results – thank you, Dave Roberts! A plus for Davis is his experience and speed. The removal of a pitcher opens up an extra positional slot and just maybe Tzu-Wei Lin could make a September push? In 2016, the Red Sox sent Junichi Tazawa off the island and welcomed Christian Vazquez aboard to contain Cleveland’s speed. Sometimes an inept lefty may win a spot based on just that – matchup.
The decisions and debate will soon start as all focus on the rotation and the final 25 players, but the roster can be – unlike the World Series – fluid in case of injury. Maybe Doug Fister will be the Derek Lowe of 2017? The players will certainly be in tune to what transpires since no one wishes to have an empty dance card, but that will happen.
Next: Andrew Benintendi, MY rookie of the year
There is the major attention getter for the remainder of the schedule and that is just where the Red Sox will be in the playoffs, but a subplot exists. Each minor move could be instrumental in the final decision-making process for the roster. What may be viewed as inconsequential to the fans may be instrumental in securing or losing a postseason roster slot.