The Boston Red Sox playoff roster will leave a pitcher on the outside as a starter will trot to the bullpen. Who may be relegated to cheerleader status?
In another five weeks, a player on the Boston Red Sox will be told he is not good enough. The statement will not be direct, but the undercurrent will be. Manager Alex Cora will pull a player into his managerial office and say the first round of the playoffs you will sit.
The round will be a five-game series and invariably the player, or maybe more than one, chosen to enjoy the dugout will be a pitcher. Of course, there will be other motivating factors that Cora can weave into the narrative giving someone a hiatus for a five-game series. A verbal comfort to sooth ego is most certainly a prerequisite to being benched. No matter how it is framed – you sit and you watch.
More from Red Sox News
- 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
- Why Red Sox fans should be rooting for Carlos Correa’s Mets deal to go through
Just what will the Red Sox do to configure their playoff roster? The American League Divisional Series certainly allows a condensed pitching staff, but some have already made performance issues a certainty they will be on the outside looking in.
Looking at the staff with September not in the books, you know Rick Porcello, Chris Sale (healthy), David Price, and either Eduardo Rodriguez or Nathan Eovaldi are the potential rotation – and probably for the entire playoff run. A four-man rotation will usually suffice with the fifth starter relegated to the bullpen. A certain five.
Just who will be the meat and potatoes for Cora in the bullpen? As Captain Obvious would say, one Craig Kimbrel most certainly will have his spot in the ‘pen waiting and hoping he is in a save situation. But getting to Kimbrel brings into play decisions that are going to be make sure a pitcher or two will not have a happy face.
Drew Pomeranz has done little after a spectacular 2017 season. The Red Sox will need a lefty and Brian Johnson has proven himself far more reliable and capable than Pomeranz. I would also expect as the Red Sox advance in the playoffs Pomeranz becomes a passive observer and possibly Johnson with Rodriguez the main attraction for facing an itinerant lefty batter. E-Rod – with a starter’s mentality – can give you multiple innings.
Brandon Workman has provided some quality when called upon this season but has also been victimized by contract issues that relate to service time. Workman had options available and could and had been on the I-95 shuttle to Pawtucket. Workman is certainly in a low position of the depth chart.
Will Steven Wright be physically able to contribute in September? If Wright returns to his level of proficiency before his knee gave out he may be in a duel with Hector Velazquez. Based on Velazquez’s full season contribution I would suspect Wright would have to be exceptional and that is very, very doubtful. With Eovaldi potentially available Hector may also sit – much depends on Cora’s starting formula.
What do you do with Ryan Brasier? Brasier has been given more and more responsibility incrementally as the season has progressed. Unless a September meltdown happens Brasier is a must as is Matt Barnes. Barnes has been solid all season and most certainly will be in the bullpen rotation, but then you may have a decision with two others.
Heath Hembree or Joe Kelly? A few months ago Kelly was one of the very best in baseball until he relapsed into ordinary. Hembree exhibits an ability to give up home runs at a most inopportune time. And just what do you do with Tyler Thornburg? Thornburg will take two steps forward and then one back, but September may be the month of trial for Hembree and Thornburg.
The debate will intensify as the Red Sox march to their inevitable playoff slot and much will hinge on injuries (Rodriguez/Wright/Sale) and performance. The Red Sox I fully expect will roll out an 11 man staff and then will tweak in for round two.