Red Sox postseason roster prediction: Who makes the cut?
By Jason Ward
After clinching a postseason berth and reaching 100 wins, it’s time to start thinking about which 25 men the Red Sox will take into the playoffs.
The Boston Red Sox reached 100 wins for the first time in 72 years a day after clinching a playoff spot for the third consecutive year. They’ve been the best team in baseball for most of the season, and lead the MLB in runs scored, hits, and collective batting average.
But none of that matters once the postseason begins. All the stats, all the win totals of the regular season are meaningless in October. Every team has one goal – a World Series trophy. So who will the best-record-in-baseball Boston Red Sox take on their quest for the Commissioner’s Trophy? Here are my predictions for the 2018 postseason roster:
Let’s get the obvious ones out of the way first with the starters. J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr. Xander Bogaerts, Mitch Moreland, Ian Kinsler, Eduardo Nunez, and Sandy Leon are all definite locks. Now who’s on the bench:
Brock Holt – As Jonny Gomes calls him, the Swiss Army Knife is so valuable to a playoff team. He can go out in any spot and play any position and get the job done. Plus he can come off the bench and provide a spark like he did a couple nights ago.
Steve Pearce – Pearce is the classic postseason bench guy who you could see pinch-hit in a big spot and go deep. He also gives the Sox another option at 1B against LHPs or if Moreland continues to struggle.
Rafael Devers – Even though he’s lost his starting role due to time missed because of injuries, Raffy is still a great power hitter. He may not be great in the field, but his bat can definitely be beneficial as a pinch-hitter in the postseason.
Blake Swihart – The switch-hitting catcher has proven himself to be the only Red Sox catcher who can hit this season. Although he’s not the best defensively, I still think he’s a better option than Vazquez and is a good compliment to Sandy Leon.
Notable players to not make the cut:
Christian Vazquez – Vazquez missed significant time due to injuries and hasn’t had a good year at all, batting just .212 with a .553 OPS. And Sandy is a better defensive catcher anyway, so there’s really no reason Vazquez should make the roster.
Brandon Phillips – After hitting that go-ahead homer with two outs in the 9th against the Braves last week, many people were pushing for Dat Dude to be in the postseason. But as much as I love Phillips, it just doesn’t make sense to have him on the roster. The only scenario I see him on the playoff roster is if Rafael Devers gets injured before October.
Once again there are the obvious players, Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez, Matt Barnes, Craig Kimbrel. Beyond them, here’s who I think will make up the rest of the pitching staff:
Steven Wright – The knuckleballer could be huge in the playoffs, coming out of the bullpen with his slow and deceptive knuckleball to throw the hitters off. He also has the ability to go multiple innings which can be helpful in a playoff series.
Nathan Eovaldi – Despite not having success as a starter recently, Eovaldi still has value in the ‘pen. He can throw 100 mph if he wants to and doesn’t walk a lot of guys which can make him useful in big spots.
Brandon Workman – As the only pitcher on the Red Sox to win the World Series, and one of the only relievers I trust, Workman should be on the playoff roster. He’s been reliable this season too, 4-0 with a 2.41 ERA.
Joe Kelly – Joe started off the season as their best reliever, but then quickly declined in June. Still, he can throw very hard and deserves to be part of this bullpen.
Ryan Brasier – Brasier has emerged as one of the most reliable relievers for the Red Sox. He’s posted a 1.67 ERA in 27 games for the Sox, so he should definitely join them into the postseason.
Bobby Poyner – This one probably comes as a surprise to most people. Poyner has spent little time with the Red Sox (15.2 IP) even though he has a 1.72 ERA at the MLB level and had a 3.14 ERA in AAA. Poyner has consistently been great for the Red Sox in the time he’s spent with them, and Cora has been trusting him and going to him more in big spots in the last few weeks. Plus he’s a lefty which the Red Sox could use in the bullpen.
Notable players to not make it:
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Heath Hembree – Heath just isn’t that good. ERA over 4 and a 2.81 K/BB ratio. He hasn’t shown he can come through in big spots either, making fans nervous every time he pitches in crucial situations.
Drew Pomeranz – Pomeranz has been absolutely horrendous this season. 2-5 with a 6.18 ERA. Enough said.
Hector Velazquez – Velazquez has been great for the Red Sox this season, but he doesn’t quite fit into the playoff picture. Sox already have Wright and Eovaldi to pitch in long relief, so Hector isn’t really needed in the playoffs.
Brian Johnson – Same idea as Velazquez, just no need for another long reliever.
Tyler Thornburg – The 2016 trade acquisition isn’t the same pitcher as before his injury yet. He isn’t at the point where we can trust him in big spots or at all in the playoffs.
These are just my predictions of what the playoff roster will be like, but I’m sure Alex Cora and the Red Sox will make the right decisions for the team as they’ve gotten this far to 100 wins.