The Boston Red Sox called up five players from Triple-A Pawtucket and activated three more from the disabled list as September roster expansion begins.
September is here. Summer is slowly slipping away, the playoff picture is taking shape, and the Boston Red Sox have more players on their active roster than they know what to do with.
MLB allows clubs to add any player from their 40-man roster for the final stretch of the season. The Red Sox took advantage of the roster expansion immediately, adding eight players on September 1.
Eduardo Rodriguez has been activated from the 10-day disabled list in time to start Saturday’s game against the Chicago White Sox. The lefty has been sidelined by an ankle injury since mid-July. He struck out 14 batters over eight scoreless innings in his two rehab starts with Double-A Portland, which convinced the team he’s ready to jump back into the rotation.
Prior to the injury, Rodriguez was arguably the second-best pitcher in the Red Sox rotation. He’s 11-3 with a 3.44 ERA and 9.5 K/9. His return couldn’t come soon enough with Chris Sale sidelined, David Price banged up, and Rick Porcello struggling.
Christian Vazquez and Steven Wright were also activated from the DL, although their roles are less defined. Vazquez started the year at the top of the catcher hierarchy but his stock was plummeting long before a fractured pinkie finger put him on the shelf. Wright will have to settle for being a long reliever for now, perhaps with the opportunity to expand that role based on performance.
The Red Sox also added infielder Tzu-Wei Lin, first baseman Sam Travis, right-handed pitcher William Cuevas, and lefties Bobby Poyner and Robby Scott. Each has seen brief stints with the big league club with varying levels of success.
Lin has hit a meager .182 in 20 major league games this season but was thriving in Pawtucket where he hit .307/.362/.448. He can cover three positions, giving Boston some depth to an infield thinned by the absence of Rafael Devers.
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Travis is 3-for-16 in limited time in the majors this season. A dismal start to the year has dampened is overall production but Travis has picked it up at the plate lately. He’s hitting .299 with a .728 OPS over his last 40 minor league games. He’ll provide some insurance at first base in case Mitch Moreland‘s sore knee continues to give him trouble.
Cuevas went 10-7 with a 3.39 ERA as a starter in Pawtucket this season yet was never asked to make a spot start when Boston needed one. He allowed one run over three innings out of the bullpen across a pair of brief call ups this season.
The Red Sox have been getting by with few left-handed options in the bullpen for the majority of this season. Now they have a pair of extra southpaws they can turn to. Expanded rosters mean deeper bullpens, allowing teams to mix-and-match more late in games.
Poyner was a surprise addition to the Opening Day roster after making a strong impression in spring training. His strong start was derailed by a strained hamstring that sent him to the DL. By the time he was ready to return, Poyner was the odd man out in a numbers game. He owns a 1.69 ERA in 10 2/3 innings with the Red Sox.
Scott was a valuable bullpen piece for Boston last year but has rarely seen big league action in 2018. The lefty allowed four earned runs in 2 1/3 innings in his two appearances. He’s been outstanding in Pawtucket, posting a 1.86 ERA with 63 strikeouts in 48 1/3 innings. It’s about time he’s getting another opportunity.
None of the five players who earned a call-up are likely to make the postseason roster. Of the trio activated from the DL, only Rodriguez seems to have a secure spot when we get to October. A strong finish could convince the Red Sox to take some of the others with them on their playoff run but the opportunities they receive down the stretch will be more about putting themselves on the radar for next season.