It’s that time of year again!

September has begun, and MLB rosters are being flooded with Triple-A players eager to fight for a spot on the playoff roster. Unfortunately, there are only 25 spots; and this Red Sox team is inundated with talent.

Here we’ll examine roster candidates position by position and try to predict the 25 guys the Red Sox roll into October with.


Catcher Options (3):

Sandy Leon
Christian Vazquez
Blake Swihart

We start off with a tough one to predict. Whether the Red Sox will keep three catchers on the roster has yet to be made clear. When healthy, all three catchers have remained on the roster simultaneously. However, it’s possible the Red Sox opt for an extra pitcher while carrying only two catchers.

Although none of the three Red Sox catchers have posted a positive WAR this year, each can provide value to this team in the playoffs.

Sandy Leon has been atrocious at the plate recently. Over the last 28 days, he has a miserable slash line of .068/.146/.159. However, his ability to call games behind the plate is invaluable. Rick Porcello has gone on the record saying Sandy is “the best catcher {he’s} ever thrown to,” and the numbers prove it. Among Catchers who have caught at least 2,000 batters this season, Leon ranks first in the league with a 3.24 Catcher’s ERA. His ability to instill confidence in his pitchers and play great defense is enough for him to make the postseason roster.

With Vazquez going down with an injury in July, Blake Swihart was given a much larger role with the team. Since then, his bat has proven to be very valuable off the bench. In high leverage situations, he’s slashing .294/.400/.412 with 5 RBIs. He also has decent speed and an incredible arm. He’s easily the best hitter of the three, and his ability to play almost any position makes him very valuable as a late game substitute.

And finally, let’s talk about Christian Vazquez. Although he started the year as the first-string catcher, his two-month DL stint and sub-par performance have given Leon and Swihart the opportunity to take his spot. His performance this September is going to determine whether he makes the roster. Along with the injury concern, Vazquez’s bat has been very quiet this season. However, if Vazquez can get going at the plate and Leon continues to struggle, the Red Sox may be forced to carry Vazquez on the roster. For now, I think it’s in the team’s best interest if he isn’t on the roster.

Who Makes the Team (2)?
Sandy Leon
Blake Swihart

1B Options (2):

Mitch Moreland
Steve Pearce

First Base is pretty set in stone. Moreland will start against RHP and Pearce will start against lefties.

Who Makes the Team (2)?
Mitch Moreland
Steve Pearce

2B Options (3):

Ian Kinsler
Brock Holt
Brandon Phillips

The Ian Kinsler trade has proven to be extremely beneficial for the Red Sox. Not only is he a significant defensive upgrade, but he’s been one of the team’s best hitters as of late.

Brock Holt will also make the team. I listed him as a 2B because that’s where he plays most often, but he can play anywhere. More importantly, he’s the heart and soul of this team. I don’t really care if he plays, but he needs to be in that clubhouse.

Despite his heroics in the series finale against the Braves, I can’t see Phillips joining the Red Sox in the playoffs. If the team had any intentions of using him in October, they wouldn’t have waited until September to call him up. But who knows, if he continues to hit well, a spot may open up.

Who Makes the Team (2)?
Ian Kinsler
Brock Holt

SS Options (2):

Xander Bogaerts
Tzu-Wei Lin

As much as I love Tzu-Wei Lin, he’s not going to make the team.

Who Makes the Team (1)?
Xander Bogaerts

3B Options (2):

Eduardo Nuñez
Rafael Devers

Eduardo Nuñez has been bad for the majority of the season; But recently, he’s been hitting the crap out of the ball. This puts Devers in danger of losing the starting 3B job. We know Devers is an awful defender, and if he can’t get anything going with the bat, he may be on the verge of losing his spot on the playoff roster.

Who Makes the Team (2)?
Eduardo Nuñez
Rafael Devers

OF Options (4):

Mookie Betts
Andrew Benintendi
Jackie Bradley Jr.
J.D. Martinez

This is another easy one. All these guys make the team.

Who Makes the Team (4)?

Mookie Betts
Andrew Benintendi
Jackie Bradley Jr.
J.D. Martinez

SP Options (8):

Chris Sale
David Price
Rick Porcello
Eduardo Rodriguez
Nathan Eovaldi
Steven Wright
Brian Johnson
Hector Velazquez

The first three rotation slots are set; Sale, Price, and Porcello.

I think it’s safe to assume both Sale and Price will be healthy by October. The fourth slot is a pretty easy pick too. E-Rod looked great in his first start back with the Red Sox, and he’s been one of the best Red Sox pitchers overall this year.

Eovaldi has collapsed after his first two starts, and Steven Wright has only been used out of the bullpen since returning to the team. Velazquez’s high FIP has caught up to him recently, and his W/L and ERA show it. Brian Johnson is the only guy I can see ousting E-Rod from the fourth starting slot. He’s been very consistent as a starter this year, but a healthy E-Rod is leaps and bounds ahead of him. Do we even need mention Drew Pomeranz?

Who Makes the Team (4)?
Chris Sale
David Price
Rick Porcello
Eduardo Rodriguez

Bullpen Options (15):

Craig Kimbrel
Matt Barnes
Ryan Brasier
Joe Kelly
Brandon Workman
Heath Hembree
Tyler Thornburg
Nathan Eovaldi
Hector Velazquez
Steven Wright
Brian Johnson
Drew Pomeranz
Bobby Poyner
Robby Scott
William Cuevas

This is where it gets tough. We’ve got eight spots for fifteen guys. Let’s start off by eliminating a few names right off the bat.

William Cuevas isn’t quite ready to graduate from Triple-A. And even if he was, there’s no room on this roster for him. Robby Scott could give the Sox something they desperately need; a lefty reliever. Unfortunately, he’s been awful in his few opportunities with the team this year. Once again, do we even need to mention Drew Pomeranz?

Kimbrel, Barnes, and Brasier have more than earned the right to play in October. At this point, they’re the three relievers I trust the most.

Now that we’ve gotten the obvious ones out of the way, we’re down to five spots for nine guys. Trust me, this wasn’t easy.

We’ll start with Joe Kelly. After falling off a cliff in the second half of the season, Kelly seems to be slowly returning to his first half self. Over the past month, he’s posted a 2.13 ERA over 12.2 innings. He’ll most likely make the postseason roster.

Now let’s move onto Hector Velazquez. About a month ago, Velazquez’s ERA and W/L may have fooled you into thinking he was an elite pitcher. Unfortunately, that was never the case. His ERA is on the rise. Currently he’s sitting at a 3.24 ERA, but even that is unsustainable for him. His high FIP and WHIP have finally caught up to him, and he’s been struggling. This is a guy I’d be comfortable leaving at home.

Tyler Thornburg is another guy that I’m comfortable heading into October without. Red Sox nation had big expectations for this guy once he returned from injury. Sadly, he has not been this bullpen’s savior like people had hoped. Instead, he’s posted a 5.31 ERA and a 1.475 WHIP through 20.1 innings. To be fair, the guy hasn’t pitched in two seasons. Hopefully he can return to his 2016 form by next year; But right now, he’s just not ready.

With four of these bullpen options being primarily starters, it’s important to have a good balance of starters and relievers. The first starter I’m taking off this list is Nathan Eovaldi. Despite his poor performance recently (6.85 ERA since his first two starts with the Red Sox), we’ve seen what he can do at his peak. Recently, Eovaldi has been more reliant on his fastball as opposed to his cutter and slider. This is mainly due to the ineffectiveness of those two pitches, which has clearly hurt him substantially. If he can get back to consistently throwing the same slider and cutter he threw against the Twins and Yankees, he can be very dangerous out of the bullpen. I think the Red Sox realize this, and will likely bring him to the playoffs as a part of the bullpen.

Next up is Bobby Poyner, a guy that arguably should’ve been with the team for the entire season. Like Robby Scott, Poyner has the ability to provide this Red Sox bullpen with something they desperately need. The Red Sox haven’t had a true lefty reliever in the bullpen all year, and despite his strong start to the season, Poyner saw himself in Pawtucket for most of the season. At this point, it seems like it’s too late for Poyner to prove himself in time for the playoffs. I think it’s safe to assume he doesn’t make the roster.

Speaking of lefties, Brian Johnson will likely fill one of the remaining spots. He hasn’t been the most effective reliever, but he can be a good long relief option in case of an early collapse by a starter. I’d trust him pitching 2.0+ innings more than any other guy on this list.

Now we’re down to three guys, and two spots remain. Each of them have a strong case for making the roster, but unfortunately, one of them won’t make it. I’ll start with Heath Hembree. In my mind, he’s the least deserving of one of the final two spots, but he’s the most likely to get one. While Hembree went on quite the impressive run where he seemed untouchable with runners on base, that stretch is over. We’ve seen him collapse in high leverage situations, and I simply don’t trust him to pitch well in October. However, he’s been a constant in this bullpen throughout the season, and Cora hasn’t been shy to call his name in close games.

Workman and Wright are so tough to choose between. Since returning to the team, Workman has been great out of the bullpen. He’s posted a 2.60 ERA and a 1.096 WHIP in 34.2 Innings with the team this year. However, it seems like he’s always the odd man out whenever a player returns to injury and they need room on the roster. Meanwhile, Steven Wright is fresh off the DL and has been integrated back into the bullpen. As a reliever he’s been very good for the Red Sox, posting a 2.00 ERA in 18 IP. However, the knuckle ball is very dangerous. He’s got little to no control over the knuckle ball, which can result in a lot of wild pitches and a lot of walks; which is not what u want during the seventh inning of a tie game.

I could see the Sox going either way on this decision (if it comes about); but since I have to pick one of them, I think the Red Sox would be more likely go with Steven Wright for the final spot. While he may not be as deserving of the spot as Workman, it doesn’t seem like the Red Sox regard Workman as highly as the fans do. Sadly, I see him being the odd man out once again.

Who Makes the Team (8)?
Craig Kimbrel
Matt Barnes
Ryan Brasier
Joe Kelly
Nathan Eovaldi
Brian Johnson
Heath Hembree
Steven Wright

Final Roster Predictions

Catchers:

Sandy Leon, Blake Swihart

Infielders:

Mitch Moreland, Steve Pearce, Ian Kinsler, Brock Holt, Xander Bogaerts, Eduardo Nuñez, Rafael Devers

Outfielders:

Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr. J.D. Martinez

Pitchers:

Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez, Craig Kimbrel, Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Joe Kelly, Nathan Eovaldi, Brian Johnson, Heath Hembree, Steven Wright

Just Missed the Cut:

Brandon Workman, Christian Vazquez, Brandon Phillips

Keep in mind, these aren’t necessarily the players who I think are most deserving of being on the roster. This is merely the roster I think the Red Sox will end up choosing to take into the postseason.

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