Red Sox: Predicting the 2018 Opening Day 25-man roster
Craig Kimbrel, Carson Smith, Joe Kelly, Matt Barnes, Robby Scott, Austin Maddox, Roenis Elias
Kimbrel is currently away from the team to be with his infant daughter who is recovering from a heart procedure. The closer has far bigger priorities than baseball at the moment but I’m still projecting him to make the roster. He’s still throwing bullpen sessions in Boston to prepare for the season and the team doesn’t seem too concerned about his availability for Opening Day.
Smith pitched well following his September debut that followed a lengthy injury layoff. His strong spring suggests he’s ready to take over the eighth inning setup role. Barnes and Kelly could factor into that role at times but will primarily be used in the 6th/7th innings.
Scott hasn’t been sharp this spring but remains the top lefty in the bullpen. He may end up being the only lefty, although don’t sleep on Elias. He’s converted himself into a reliever and dropped to a sidearm delivery against lefties. Elias hasn’t allowed an earned run this spring so the approach seems to be working. Johnson could bump him back to Pawtucket if he’s sent to the bullpen when E-Rod or Wright returns – unless Elias supplants Scott as the preferred southpaw in the bullpen.
Also, keep an eye on Bobby Poyner. He’s looked great this spring but I’m not projecting him for Opening Day since he’s not on the 40-man roster. If Scott continues to struggle then a move to bring up Poyner may be warranted.
Tyler Thornburg should establish himself as a key part of this bullpen but may not be ready to begin the season on time. He’s still working his way back from a lost season and hasn’t appeared in a Grapefruit League game yet. I’m predicting Maddox takes his spot until Thornburg is ready.
Next: Bold predictions for 2018
If Boston decides to carry an extra bat on the bench it would come at the expense of a reliever. In that case, Maddox or one of the lefties would be in jeopardy of losing their roster spot.