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— Where Thinking Red Sox Fans Obsess about the Sox

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Decisions Decisions

OK, the Sox have clinched the American League East for the third consecutive year and at some point soon will secure home field throughout their playoff run.  I think I can now safely consider the roster without any jinxes (except injury. This whole piece assumes health which…oh man I’m going to worry about this for two weeks).

Anyway, I am operating under a 14 position player/11 pitcher set up.

(and yes I just literally knocked on my wooden desk);

INFIELD: Mitch Moreland, Ian Kinsler, Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Brock Holt, Eduardo Nunez, Steve Pearce (apologies: Tzu-Wei Lin, Tony Renda, Brandon Phillips)

Quite frankly most of the decision making on the positional roster exists here.  I would like to see a pinch runner of some sort but none of the guys with a shot at that role are Rajai Davis/Quintin Berry types so I am not compelled to force them onto the roster.  The bigger decision here is who the hell plays.  Bogaerts is a given of course but incredibly all three of the other spots are up for grabs.  My one strong opinion is to keep riding the hot hand of Brock Holt and make sure he is in there.  I will admit I worry greatly about Devers’ defense at third but I love his bat.  He has shown some life in Cleveland with a couple of homers and anecdotally he seems to step up against the best pitchers.  I would go with him, I would play Holt at second and platoon Pearce and Moreland.  However, I do think Alex Cora has to be prepared to move Holt to third and Kinsler to second if the Sox have a late lead (and of course Moreland should be in defensively in such situations).  If Nunez can’t go I think Phillips is the play.  Fairly similar type player and brings a defensive component that might be useful.

OUTFIELD: Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts

This is easy.  Holt and Blake Swihart operate as backups if you need them and of course JDM can play it too.

CATCHER: Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez, Blake Swihart

I want to see how the Sox run with this.  I know we are supposed to pooh-pooh the idea of catcher ERA but man, it’s hard to argue with the numbers* and frankly the eyeball test matches the numbers in this case.  If I were the Sox I would start Leon and let him ride with the starters.  If you have a lead and maybe if you are tied, stay with him but if you are behind, pinch hit in the 5th inning or his next at bat.  Be aggressive using Swihart in that role and if you get a lead, Vazquez is available as a defensive replacement.

* Sandy Leon 3.32, Christian Vazquez 3.81, Blake Swihart 4.81

DH: J.D. Martinez

Just like the David Ortiz years, done and done.

STARTERS: Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez

The top two are no brainers and if you worry about Price in New York this would have him pitching in Fenway if the Yankees were the Sox LDS foe.  Porcello has struggled a bit lately but I still think he’s the guy.  The fourth starter comes down to EdRod or Eovaldi and I think Rodriguez is the better choice here.  When he is on he is a force and when he’s not it’s clear right away.  With Eovaldi and Steven Wright the Sox should have a couple of multi-inning options in the bullpen if necessary.  Also, I think Eovaldi is going to make a better relief option than Rodriguez.

BULLPEN: Do i have to?

Yes Jose you do.

BULLPEN: Craig Kimbrel, Mike Timlin, Hideki Okajima, Alan Emb…

knock it off you big baby, get on with it.

Sigh.

BULLPEN: Craig Kimbrel, Nathan Eovaldi, Steven Wright, Brandon Workman, Ryan Brasier, Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly (apologies: Heath Hembree, Hector Velazquez, Robby Scott, Brian Johnson)

The guy that I love out there is Workman.  He had a tough go in New York on Tuesday but he’s a guy who will attack hitters and isn’t going to let the moment get to him.  Barnes getting right this week would go a long way to giving Alex Cora and the rest of us reason to breathe for the final several innings of a ballgame.  Velazquez is a guy I hate not taking because he has been terrific this year.  I’m just not sure who you take off the list.  I am no Kelly fan but he has shown the ability to dominate when he is on his game.  With Wright and Eovaldi on the roster the Sox really don’t have a need for Velazquez’ ability to go multiple innings is not really meaningful.  It’s a shame, the dude has done everything the Sox could have asked and is a real feather in Dave Dombrowski’s cap.

That’s what I got.  Mock away.

Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: September 23, 2018 at 05:00 PM | 32 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. villageidiom Posted: September 24, 2018 at 08:46 AM (#5750404)
The things I worry about now with that roster, that hopefully will be resolved in the next 10 days, are all about the rotation.

Sale isn't back up to full speed yet. Yes against Cleveland he threw over 70 pitches for the first time in a couple of months, but that didn't even get him through 4 innings. Price is implosion-capable. Porcello, as you note, has had a rough time lately. Rodriguez, even when he's on, is good for 5 innings. I feel like every game has a significant potential for the bullpen to throw 4+ innings. And that makes me feel like Wright and Eovaldi aren't enough. Perhaps for the first round I'd take Velazquez and not Barnes.

Again, the next 10 days will tell us more about Sale, and Barnes, and maybe the others. Maybe there's nothing to worry about here. And maybe Eovaldi and Wright are enough. I just don't like the idea of Game 1 being an early-bullpen day, and then having to count on Playoff Price, Porcello, and Rodriguez to go deep into games, in a short series.
   2. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: September 24, 2018 at 09:20 AM (#5750423)
I'm not worried about Sale. That performance was an anomaly on a lot of levels not the least of which is that the dude was probably hungover. With 7 relievers and off days sprinkled throughout I'm not worried about bullpen games. The problem with the bullpen game is it means your starter hasn't pitched well.

You raise a valid point about Barnes. I was probably too quick to anoint him as a given. He hasn't really pitched, if he hasn't shown that he can get the job done Velazquez makes sense.
   3. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: September 24, 2018 at 09:47 AM (#5750448)
Playoff rosters can be changed after each series, correct? Would it make sense to drop Nunez and add Velazquez for the ALDS for Sale insurance? With how Holt is playing right now there is no reason to use Nunez.
   4. Silas Wegg Posted: September 24, 2018 at 10:01 AM (#5750462)
I'd rather have Poyner, who you didn't list, than Kelly. Is he not eligible?
   5. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: September 24, 2018 at 10:53 AM (#5750507)
Poyner is eligible, I'm just not convinced he's necessary particular if Gregorious is injured. Beyond Didi the Yankees don't have any lefties that the Sox should feel like they need to react to and Olson seems to be the only guy for Oakland.
   6. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: September 24, 2018 at 10:00 PM (#5751055)
Can we reconsider Kelly?
   7. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: September 25, 2018 at 08:55 AM (#5751195)
106!!!
   8. karlmagnus Posted: September 25, 2018 at 09:08 AM (#5751198)
We've got Tris Speaker, no question, but I don't see a Smokey Joe Wood.
   9. Morton's Fork Posted: September 25, 2018 at 09:16 AM (#5751201)
SP: Sale - Price - Porcello - (ERod/Eovaldi)

RP: Kimbrel - Brazier - (Eovaldi/ERod) - Workman - Wright - Velazquez - Poyner - Johnson

Sox have to prepare to be OK if Sale can only go, say, two or three innings in G1. So they bring in Eovaldi or ERod (or Wright) who can give them three or four if need be. If Sale goes 6+ and they use none of those guys, they're in position to be flexible about the G4 starter.

If a disaster happens in G1 or G2 the Sox probably need another RP, so because I think the insurance (in a 5-game series) is worth it, I'd go with a 12th pitcher, maybe Johnson (for length); they might probably pick Kelly, though (for immediacy).

Given Benintendi, Bradley Jr, Betts, JD Martinez, Bogaerts, and the three catchers (Swihart, of course, offering deep depth at every position but CF and SS), then: of Devers (3B), Holt (not C), Nunez (3B,2B), Moreland (1B), Pearce (1B), and Kinsler (2B), the Sox must pick one to be benched. If Nunez is not healthy he's the answer, otherwise it looks to me like Moreland is the odd man out even though Mitch was so important in the regular season. Holt's got to be a starter at 3B, 2B, or 1B. Devers is hot and likely to start at 3B, leaving one of Pearce or Nunez to man the right side of the infield and the other to back up. I'd say Holt at 2B and Pearce at 1B with Nunez on the bench.
   10. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: September 25, 2018 at 09:20 AM (#5751203)
Morton - No Barnes?
   11. Morton's Fork Posted: September 25, 2018 at 09:36 AM (#5751208)
No Barnes. He's not been good, and AC's been offering him spots of decreasing leverage. It's certainly possible that he makes it instead of Poyner or Johnson, but only because "he throws 100."
   12. Morton's Fork Posted: September 25, 2018 at 09:46 AM (#5751219)
My son and I joke about the JMMR (Justin Masterson Memorial Role) when Tito stuck JM into ticklish situations in the 5th/6th/7th and then let him go back out there for another inning or two. Think David Price in the playoffs, dream of Steven Wright. The "Ace Reliever" who can pitch a couple innings more. I think this is what's coming, and it feels like AC is preparing for it right now.
   13. Chip Posted: September 25, 2018 at 10:16 AM (#5751252)
No Barnes. He's not been good, and AC's been offering him spots of decreasing leverage.


Where’s the data supporting this, and how does it factor in the hip issue which led to Barnes being rested for nearly three weeks from 9/3 to 9/21?
   14. Morton's Fork Posted: September 25, 2018 at 10:24 AM (#5751260)
@Chip: Sorry, no data. I just watch all of the games.

To me, Barnes doesn't look like he's recovered yet, but I'm not saying what I think *should be* I'm only saying what I think the Red Sox are going to do, and why I think they're going to do it.
   15. Morton's Fork Posted: September 25, 2018 at 10:37 AM (#5751269)
@Chip: Sorry, no data. I just watch all of the games.

To me, Barnes doesn't look like he's recovered yet, but I'm not saying what I think *should be* I'm only saying what I think the Red Sox are going to do, and why I think they're going to do it.
   16. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: September 25, 2018 at 10:53 AM (#5751286)
He said it twice so it must be true :-)

Barnes is one of the interesting things to watch this week. I was at 106 last night so it was hard to tell but how did he look? Seemed like he was dealing.
   17. Morton's Fork Posted: September 25, 2018 at 04:09 PM (#5751754)
Heh. Repetition = Truth these days, amirite?

Barnes has a lot of credit with Sox leadership, I think, and could easily pitch his way onto the roster this week. Monday he came in with a 4-run lead in the ninth (so a save-rehearsal). First pitch he gave up a swinging bunt that was initially scored E1 but then changed to a hit. Next a quick GB DP followed by another GB out to second. Great inning, but these are the Orioles. I root for him because I have lots of UConnections. Too few pitches to tell how he looked :-)
   18. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: September 26, 2018 at 01:13 PM (#5752401)
Bigfoot won't make the roster, Sox have shut him down for the rest of the season. That trade isn't really working out.
   19. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: September 26, 2018 at 03:15 PM (#5752567)
Bigfoot?
   20. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: September 26, 2018 at 03:30 PM (#5752586)
Tyler Thornburg. Because for a long long time it wasn't clear he actually existed.
   21. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: September 26, 2018 at 03:31 PM (#5752588)
And 100 for Xander!
   22. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: September 26, 2018 at 03:37 PM (#5752594)
And 20 for Raffy! Milestones aplenty today.
   23. Joe Bivens is NOT a clueless numpty Posted: September 26, 2018 at 03:54 PM (#5752620)
Why would anyone have to apologize to Tony Renda?
   24. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: September 26, 2018 at 04:01 PM (#5752633)
He scored the winning run in one of the most dramatic games of the year, figured I'd give him a hat tip.

21.
   25. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: September 26, 2018 at 04:17 PM (#5752654)
107
   26. villageidiom Posted: September 26, 2018 at 06:01 PM (#5752767)
Tyler Thornburg. Because for a long long time it wasn't clear he actually existed.
That's "Tyler Thornburg".
   27. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: September 26, 2018 at 08:19 PM (#5752865)
Yes, in one of the stranger surprises of the last couple of years, it turns out that Travis ShAAAAw is a 120 OPS+ second baseman. And Tyler Thornburg... is, allegedly.

I want to see Sale/Price/Porcello and Rodriguez/Eovaldi in the rotation with a pen of Kimbrel and nothing but multiple inning guys. Eovaldi/Rodriguez, Workman, Wright, Velazquez and whoever else. Imagine splitting a start between Eovaldi and Wright, planning for each to go 3-5 innings depending on game script.

Re today - how about that second lineup. Guess the regulars were pretty tired from all the running around the bases?
   28. Textbook Editor Posted: September 26, 2018 at 11:10 PM (#5752978)
<insert> keep telling yourself that the 2000 Yankees stumbled into the playoffs </insert>
   29. Textbook Editor Posted: September 26, 2018 at 11:14 PM (#5752981)
To me, Barnes doesn't look like he's recovered yet


The Orioles agree!



Price back to his HR-prone ways, Porcello is a walking ?, Sale still seems... not right, and Kimbrel bed-shits... Whee! Playoffs here we come!

They playoffs are gonna come down to the performances of Wright, Eovalidi, and EdRod... And yes, it's getting damp in here...
   30. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: September 27, 2018 at 12:09 AM (#5753025)
Oh goodness TE, relax buddy. It’s a great team, enjoy the next few days. Kimbrel has been terrific, just had a bad night. Price I’m not worried about either, the last couple of starts have been a bit bleak but he was great before that and the homers he’s given up have been chip shots,

Sale...yeah, tonight was disconcerting. He’s got nine days before his next start, a bit more rest and some Adrenalin hopefully he should be fine. For now, it’s a 107 win team, enjoy celebrating them the next three days.
   31. Textbook Editor Posted: September 30, 2018 at 11:15 PM (#5756028)
BULLPEN: Craig Kimbrel, Nathan Eovaldi, Steven Wright, Brandon Workman, Ryan Brasier, Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly (apologies: Heath Hembree, Hector Velazquez, Robby Scott, Brian Johnson)


I feel no closer to knowing for sure how this will play out than when you wrote this out a week ago...

I think everyone on your list save Workman/Kelly probably go. I think the last 2 slots are still somewhat up for grabs. Hembree and Velazquez could conceivably get them over Workman and Kelly... It may well depend on who they're facing.
   32. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: October 01, 2018 at 08:39 AM (#5756092)
Cora has announced that Porcello is the #3 starter with no comment about game four yet. I suspect it's Eovaldi if it's the Yankees.

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