The Red Sox slumping 3rd baseman has always had issues on defense. But can he pick his bat up enough to find a spot on the postseason roster?
Less than a year ago, Rafael Devers had his fingerprints all over the Boston Red Sox season. The then 20-year-old was slashing .284/.338/.482 in his rookie season, holding down the middle part of the Red Sox lineup.
This year, the same can not be said. Devers has struggled since nearly opening day, not only with his bat, but with this glove. His average is down over 40 points and his OPS down a full 100 points. He also committed his 22nd error on the season in the most recent loss to Houston.
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So with the postseason coming around soon, what case can be made for Devers to have a spot on the postseason roster?
Barring a surge late in the season, Devers has been a victim of the sophomore slump. He has 106 strikeouts in 105 games, with only 33 walks in comparison. But in Devers’ defense, he does have 16 home runs in those 105 games.
So the question to be asked is: If Devers is left off, who can the Red Sox put on the roster instead?
While Brock Holt has struggled some as of late, he still has better numbers than Devers, save the home run numbers. Holt can play a good third base, but he also provides more versatility than Devers can. Outside of third and DH, the Red Sox youngster cannot play any other positions.
Brandon Phillips, a late season addition to the Red Sox, could make his case to be added to the postseason roster as well, if he plays well down the stretch.
Unless a collapse of epic proportions unfolds, Boston will clinch the division fairly early. That will give Phillips plenty of chances to prove his worth for the postseason. But like Devers, he is handcuffed to only one position.
There are five locks in the infield for Boston: Mitch Moreland, Steve Pearce, Eduardo Nunez, Ian Kinsler, and Xander Bogaerts. But after that, it leaves only two spots for Boston, assuming they go with eleven pitchers.
Nunez plays a very strong third base, but he also brings a more consistent bat than Devers. The Red Sox could choose the veteran leadership of Holt and Phillips, and use Nunez and Holt as utility players.
Either way, they will leave off one of Phillips, Devers, or Holt, unless they go with less than eleven pitchers. The early odds would strongly favor Holt and Devers, but should Phillips continue to impress down the stretch, Alex Cora could have a tough decision to make.
With the hopes of the Red Sox locking up the division early, this will be one thing we can look forward to!