The Boston Red Sox have had a historic season. They locked up the AL East title in the season, sealed home-field advantage throughout the entire playoffs and now have broken the most regular season wins in the teams 118-year history. They have also improved their homerun hitting eclipsing 200 as of Wednesday afternoon shattering their 162 total that was notched in 2017.
With just one three-game series separating the Red Sox from postseason baseball we shift our eyes to a roster that will indeed be shaken up a little bit come playoff time. As many baseball followers know, a postseason roster is cut to 25 players put on an active roster. What that means is that teams will have to trim down from the 40 original players that were on the roster during the September call-ups. The Red Sox are one of many teams with some difficult decision making while breaking down the active roster.
Breaking Down the Position Players:
There are many “no-brainers” on this Red Sox roster when it comes to cuts. The locks include guys like Mitch Moreland, J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, Steve Pearce, Eduardo Nunez, Ian Kinsler, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Sandy Leon. All these guys have proven reliable for the Boston Red Sox and if a left-handed pitcher were starting against the Red Sox tomorrow, everyone but Mitch Moreland would be in the lineup for them.
The locks that were listed above fill the 25 man roster up to 10. What then needs to be decided is how many position players the Red Sox will carry as reserves. The players that are in question are guys like Brandon Phillips, Rafael Devers, Blake Swihart, Christian Vazquez and Brock Holt. These five players are on the “bubble”.
Many postseason rosters don’t carry more than three catchers, the Red Sox have three that all have similar batting averages but offer different skills. Sandy Leon has been the best defensive catcher on the team through the season. While Swihart is used as more of a utility player and less a catcher, he can fit in a lineup in the outfield, behind the plate or even at first base. Swihart has also been hitting the ball best out of all the catchers which makes him tough not to carry into the postseason.
Swihart is hitting .235 this season, which is far up and away better than everyday catcher Sandy Leon’s .180 average. Swihart is 7 for his last 20, he has two home runs in that span and also five runs scored. The case for Christian Vazquez is a little bit smaller. Vazquez is hitting just .210 with three home runs. Despite him being hurt a large chunk of the season he isn’t hitting the ball as well as he did just a year ago. He is a good defender and has thrown out baserunners time and time again this season when he has been healthy, but offensively and on the base paths there are other options for the Boston Red Sox at catcher.
The other two options are both infielders. Brock Holt is a lock for this postseason roster based on how he has been swinging the bat lately. Holt is 11 for his last 27 from the plate with six runs batted in. He is one of the hottest bats on the team currently. Holt adds versatility being that in that last two years he has played every single position on the field besides pitcher, catcher and center field. He is the ideal postseason bench addition due to his versatility and can provide a punch with his bat.
Rafael Devers is also interesting due to what he’s done with his bat. In the last couple of weeks since coming back from injury Devers has basically played his way into the postseason. He would be a reserved role like a pinch hitter, but his bat has come alive as of late. He has five hits in his last eight at-bats, three home runs and six runs batted in during that stretch. What has never been in question with Devers is his bat. He has always been able to hit, it’s just his glove that has let him down. Coming off the bench he doesn’t have to worry about playing third base as much and his bat could be an added spark for a deep postseason run.
On the Outside looking in:
Now we get to a man that is on the outside looking in. Brandon Phillips has worked hard all season long to make the major league club. He is a three-time all-star and 37-year-old MLB vet, however, despite his late-game heroics in Atlanta a couple weeks ago, has struggled mightily with a bat in his hands. He is now sitting on 3-for-23 with the Red Sox and was 1-for-12 to start. Despite him being sure-handed with a glove at both third base and second base, it seems as though Phillips won’t be able to help the Red Sox on their postseason run.
The Red Sox will probably keep Blake Swihart, Christian Vazquez, Brock Holt and Rafael Devers. This would bring their roster to 14 fielder positions filled with a look towards the bullpen.
Featured image from The Boston Herald.
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