RHP Heath Hembree to Take Steven Wright’s Spot on #RedSox ALDS Roster.

After Alex Cora announced Friday night that knuckleballer Steven Wright was unavailable for Game One of the ALDS because of an issue with his left knee, the Red Sox announced today that RHP Heath Hembree will take Wright’s spot on the team’s current 25-man postseason roster.

To no one’s surprise, Hembree (4-1, 4.20 ERA) did not make the original cut for the ALDS roster, but with Wright going down with inflammation in his left knee, the available spot went to him rather than other options such as Bobby Poyner, Brian Johnson, or Hector Velazquez to name a few.

Over the course of the regular season, the 34-year-old Wright spent 80 days on the disabled list with other knee issues.

Given what took place in relief of Chris Sale on Friday, the Red Sox bullpen situation has gotten even more shaky following this move.

Although he did mess plenty of time this season, Wright provided stability (3-1, 2.68 ERA) both in the starting rotation and as a reliever. Him being out for the remainder of this division series is certainly a hefty blow, how the rest of Boston’s ‘pen responds should be something to watch for beginning tonight.

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RECAP: Chris Sale Fans Eight and JD Martinez Homers in First at Bat as #RedSox Narrowly Take ALDS Opener from Yankees.

It certainly was far from easy, but by the time a hectic Friday night came to a close in Boston, the Red Sox had a 1-0 series lead over the New York Yankees in the ALDS. Let’s break down how we got there.

Taking a nice 0.69 ERA in two regular season starts against the Yankees this year, Chris Sale looked to rebound from a rough 2017 postseason campaign with a solid outing on Friday, and that he did.

Pitching into the sixth inning of this one, the left-hander ended up surrendering just two earned runs on five hits and two walks to go along with eight punch outs on the night as well.

Striking out three of the first four Yankee hitters he faced, the only real problems Sale ran into came with one out in the top half of the sixth, when Giancarlo Stanton ripped a single to left field to put runners at first second. That is how the ace’s night would come to a conclusion.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 93 (61 strikes), which is the most he has thrown in a single outing dating back to July 27th, the Florida native threw 33 sliders, 31 four-seam fastballs, 16 changeups, and 13 two-seam fastballs.

With all the talk about how Sale’s fastball velocity took a significant dip over the course of September, an average velocity of 94.6 MPH does not seem all that bad. He also topped out at 96.6 MPH with that same four-seamer in the first inning.

As for when we see Sale take the mound next, it sounds like the 29-year-old hurler is ready to take on any pitching role, whether it be as a starter or out of the bullpen.

Speaking of the bullpen, boy, did Red Sox relievers have themselves a night to forget on Friday. Here’s a quality picture to sum it all up from the sixth inning on.

Ryan Brasier got the first call in relief of Sale, and in his first ever postseason appearance, allowed a pair of inherited runners to score while only recording one out.

That made way for Brandon Workman to enter this contest with runners on first and second and one more out to get in the sixth.

One of the only members left from the 2013 World Series team, Workman worked the bases loaded by walking Gary Sanchez on four straight balls, but escaped any further damage in the frame by fanning Gleyber Torres with a nasty knuckle curve for the third out.

In the seventh, the bases were loaded once again for New York thanks to the combined efforts of Workman and then Matt Barnes, but only one run came of it on a Luke Voit RBI force out. Other than that, Barnes too was able to manuever his away out of a stressful jam.

Surprisingly, Rick Porcello, who should still be able to start Game Three in New York on Monday, made an appearance out of the Boston bullpen for the beginning of the eighth inning, and got the first two outs of the frame in pretty quick order.

However, a cheap two out infield single off the bat of Gleyber Torres was the last action Porcello saw in this one, and that made way for a four-out save opportunity for Craig Kimbrel.

Having not pitched in an eighth inning in months, the Red Sox closer needed six pitches to end the top half of the inning, and he would have a two-run lead to work with in the ninth.

An inning that did not start all that swimmingly with Aaron Judge taking him deep to right field to cut the Red Sox lead to one run, Kimbrel rebounded by punching out the final three Yankee hitters he faced on 13 total pitches to wrap this dramatic series opening 5-4 win up.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Yankees left-hander JA Happ, who they just got to for four runs in his last regular season start at Fenway Park on September 28th.

Starting the scoring right away in this one, a one out single from Andrew Benintendi, followed by a four-pitch walk of Steve Pearce, set up JD Martinez in an opportune scoring spot early.

In his first postseason at bat in a Red Sox uniform, the team leader in home runs (43), squared up on a 2-0 94 MPH fastball on the inner half of the plate from Happ and sent it into the first row of Monster seats in left field.

Just like that, it was a 3-0 game thanks to a JD Martinez homer that had an exit velocity of exactly 107 MPH.

Two innings later, back-to-back base knocks from Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi chased Happ out of his first postseason start in pinstripes, and that opened the doors for Steve Pearce to come through in another prime scoring chance with new reliever Chad Green on the bump for New York.

On the very first pitch he saw from the right-handed Green, Pearce, who slugged .757 against the Yankees over the regular season, lined an RBI single to left field to plate Betts from third and move Benintendi up to second. 4-0.

After JD Martinez advanced Benintendi to third on a fly ball out to right field, Xander Bogaerts took responsibility for the final Red Sox run of the night by driving in Benintendi on an RBI sac fly to right field. That put his team up 5-0, which somehow would be the only scoring they would need to pick up this very important victory.

Looking to go up 2-0 in the series headed into an off day on Sunday, David Price will get the ball for Boston on Saturday.

This season against New York, Price went 0-3 with a 10.44 ERA in four starts, but did look better in his last time out against them at Fenway Park on August 5th, an outing in which the left-hander surrendered just two earned runs on four hits and three walks over six quality innings of work.

Opposite Price will be right-hander Masahiro Tanaka for the Yankees, who finished the 2018 regular season with a 6.52 ERA over the span of two starts at Fenway Park. the Red Sox went 1-1 in those games.

A lot is on the line tonight. First pitch is scheduled for 8:15 PM ET on TBS.

 

#RedSox Set 25-Man Roster for Upcoming ALDS.

There you have it. The ALDS roster is officially set. The Red Sox are going with 14 position players compared to just 11 pitchers.

Given the history of their starters in the postseason, mixed in with the struggles the bullpen has had THIS season, that may be a bold strategy. We’ll have to wait and see if it pays off for them.

Exactly one week ago, I gave my predictions for what I thought this ALDS roster was going to look like, and not to brag, but I got 24/25 correct.

The only player I did not have on my unofficial roster was Joe Kelly, who is seemingly taking the place of Bobby Poyner in this series’ Red Sox bullpen.

I find that particularly interesting. Not only did Kelly struggle in the month of September (8.31 ERA in 8.1 IP), but Poyner, who is in his rookie season, is probably the best situation left-handed reliever the Red Sox have to offer.

With that in mind, I’m curious to see how Alex Cora manages Eduardo Rodriguez out of the ‘pen. As the only southpaw who will not be starting a game in this series, will E-Rod be used in long relief, or will he be used to get one specific hitter out?

It is worth mentioning that the Yankee lineup is right-handed heavy, so maybe I just answered my own question as to why Poyner did not make this roster.

Any who, the rest of the roster is what you would expect from this Red Sox team. Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, and Nathan Eovaldi make up the starting rotation.

Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, and Craig Kimbrel make up the heart of the Red Sox bullpen.

Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez, and Blake Swihart make up the catchers, although Swihart will probably be primarily used as a pinch runner off the bench.

From left to right, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, Ian Kinsler, and Steve Pearce represent the infield. While guys like Eduardo Nunez, Brock Holt, and Mitch Moreland should see their fair share of playing time as well.

And finally, one of the best position groups in the American League remains unchanged, as Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Mookie Betts will be manning the outfield, while JD Martinez will serve as the designated hitter.

It’s a lefty vs. lefty pitching matchup for Game One of the ALDS on Friday night at Fenway Park.

For New York, JA Happ gets the nod for his fourth career postseason start. And for Boston, it will be none other than Chris Sale, who is starting the ALDS opener for the second straight year.

First pitch of the first game of the series is scheduled for 7:32 PM ET on TBS later tonight. Time to do damage.

It’s Going to Be a #RedSox-Yankees ALDS.

For the first time since 2004, yes 2004, the Red Sox and Yankees will be meeting up in the postseason.

That’s right, the 100-62 New York Yankees ran away with a 7-2 victory over the 97-65 Oakland Athletics in Wednesday night’s American League Wild Card game at Yankee Stadium.

Yankees ace Luis Severino got the starting nod for the second consecutive year in this single elimination contest in his home ballpark, and he proved the haters and doubters wrong by tossing four-plus innings of quality, scoreless work to go along with seven strikeouts.

In relief of Severino, the Yankees bullpen held up their end of the bargain as well by allowing just two runs, both of which came on a Khris Davis two-run home run in the eighth, over the final five frames of this one.

Dellin Betances and David Robertson worked up until the middle of the seventh inning, when Zach Britton, making his first postseason appearance with New York, served up that opposite field shot to the league leader in home runs in Davis.

And in the ninth, looking to close this thing out, the flame throwing Aroldis Chapman came in for his 25th career postseason appearance, and he held the A’s in check to lock down the Wild Card win.

So, there you have it. It’s not for a trip to the World Series, but we are set for the first Yankees-Red Sox postseason series in nearly 14 years this coming Friday.

As you may recall, these two clubs just played each other to close out the regular season at Fenway Park, where New York took two out of three from the Red Sox to reach 100 wins on the year. On the year as a whole though, the Red Sox took 10 of 19 from the Yankees during the season series, with plenty of blowouts to go around during those games.

Chris Sale is expected to start game one of the best-of-five division series on Friday at Fenway Park. David Price should get the nod for the second game on Saturday.

First pitch of those two contests are scheduled for 7:32 PM ET and 8:15 PM ET respectively.

I should have a more in-depth playoff preview sometime before Friday, but until then…

RECAP: #RedSox End Regular Season with 10-2 Thrashing of Yankees to Reach 108 Wins.

Looking to avoid their first four-game losing streak of the entire season on Sunday afternoon, the Red Sox closed out their 2018 campaign on a high note with a blowout win over the New York Yankees.

Making his 33rd and final start of the regular season, Rick Porcello was not on the mound all that long in this one, but he was effective.

Tossing two scoreless innings, the right-hander allowed just one of the seven batters he faced to reach base on a walk to go along with a pair of strikeouts on the afternoon.

Finishing with an official final pitch count of 40 (22 strikes), Porcello also headed to the Red Sox bullpen in the third and put in some additional work out there for a bit.

On the season as a whole, here’s what the New Jersey native’s final numbers look like:

33 GS, 17-7, 4.28 ERA, 191.1 IP, 190 K, 1.18 WHIP

According to Alex Cora, Porcello will “most likely” start game three of the ALDS for Boston on the road a week from Monday.

In relief of Rick Porcello, the Red Sox bullpen was responsible for the final seven innings of Sunday’s contest, and the only real blunder committed came in the top half of the fourth inning, when the Yankees tacked on their only two runs of the day on a Luke Voit two-run homer off of left-hander Bobby Poyner.

Other than that, it was a solid combined effort. More notable, Eduardo Rodriguez, Matt Barnes, and Ryan Brasier allowed just one total hit and one walk over three scoreless frames of work.

To close this thing out, Craig Kimbrel came on in a nonsave opportunity, and he struck out the side to lock up his team’s 108th win of the season.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Yankees right-hander Luis Cessa on this final day of the regular season, and they got to him for one run on three straight hits before a single out was recorded in the bottom of the first.

After a Mitch Moreland RBI double put Boston up 2-0, Cessa’s day would come to an abrupt end following an awkward collision at first base with Eduardo Nunez, which would result in JD Martinez coming in to score from third.

Veteran reliever David Robertson would come in relief of Cessa, and he allowed an inherited runner to score on an Ian Kinsler RBI groundout from Ian Kinsler, which wrapped up an impressive four-run first inning for the Red Sox.

An inning later, an RBI double from Brock Holt and a two-run home run off the bat of Xander Bogaerts, his 23rd of the season, gave his team an early seven-run advantage.

Fast forward to the fourth, and JD Martinez ended his first regular season in a Red Sox uniform in historic fashion, as he launched a one out, three-run run home run deep to Center field to make it a 10-2 game, all but guaranteeing a win.

The importance of that big fly though, is the fact that it was Martinez’s 43rd of the year, which is the most home runs any player has ever hit in his first season with the Red Sox.

Some other notes from this 10-2 win:

Following a season in which he hit .346, Mookie Betts has won his first league batting title, as he led all hitters, AL and NL, in batting average. JD Martinez finished second with a .330 batting average on the season.

From @SoxNotes: J.D. Martinez will finish his season batting .330 with 43 HR and 130 RBI. The only other Red Sox ever to hit at least .330 with 40+ HR and 130+ RBI are Ted Williams (1949) and Jimmie Foxx (1936, ’38). The last major leaguer to do that was Miguel Cabrera (2013).

In his last 30 games, Jackie Bradley slashed .281/.352/.458 with two home runs and 11 RBI. I think this is the year he finally gets that Gold Glove.

In his sixth season with the Red Sox, Brock Holt posted career highs in RBI (46), OBP (.362), SLG (.411), and OPS (.774). He also tied a career-high in home runs with seven.

Mookie Betts should probably win American League MVP.

So, there you have it on another successful regular season. 108-54 record (.667 WIN%), AL East Champs, and best record in all of baseball. Now comes the fun part. The postseason, which rightfully so, has Red Sox fans a bit concerned based on how the team has performed in the ALDS the last two years.

But, before we got too worked up about that, who the Red Sox play in the ALDS this year is all dependent on who comes out of the American League Wildcard game between the Oakland Athletics and New York Yankees this Wednesday at Yankee Stadium.

So, until then, I’ll leave you all with this. 11 wins away.

 

 

Predicting the #RedSox’ 25-Man ALDS Roster.

The Red Sox are headed to the postseason for the third consecutive year following one of, if not the best regular season in franchise history. As the top seed in the American League, they’ll take on the winner of the AL Wild Card game between the Oakland Athletics and New York Yankees in a five-game series that starts this upcoming Friday.

With that in mind, I thought I would go ahead and try my luck at predicting how Alex Cora will construct his 25-man roster for the ALDS. Here’s what I came up with.

Pitchers:

*LHP Chris Sale
*LHP David Price
LHP Eduardo Rodriguez
*RHP Nathan Eovaldi
*RHP Rick Porcello
RHP Steven Wright
RHP Matt Barnes
RHP Ryan Brasier
RHP Brandon Workman
LHP Bobby Poyner
RHP Craig Kimbrel

Some pretty obvious choices here. Sale, Price, Porcello, and Eovaldi will most likely be the starters depending on how long the series goes, and guys like Eduardo Rodriguez and Steven Wright provide a different look out of the bullpen.

In terms of whose on the bubble, you could make the case that both Bobby Poyner and Brandon Workman are interchangeable with other relievers left off, such as Brian Johnson, who started Friday night’s game against the Yankees, or even Joe Kelly.

Personally, I believe Rodriguez would be the go-to option for a longer role out of the ‘pen if multiple innings are needed, while Poyner would be more of a situational pitcher to come in and get a specific hitter out.

Catchers:

C Sandy Leon
C Christian Vazquez
C Blake Swihart

Yes, the Red Sox probably will be one of the only teams in this postseason field to carry three catchers on their roster, but it is necessary.

For starters, Sandy Leon has the trust of the pitching staff, while Christian Vazquez excels in throwing out runners on the base paths.

Blake Swihart on the other hand, I would expect him to mostly be utilized as a pinch runner off the bench.

Infielders:

1B Steve Pearce
1B Mitch Moreland
2B Ian Kinsler
2B Brock Holt
3B Eduardo Nunez
3B Rafael Devers
SS Xander Bogaerts

A few weeks ago, it seemed as though Eduardo Nunez had seemingly taken over at third base, which left Rafael Devers without a real role. But, with Nunez going down for a few days with hamstring tightness, Devers has emerged with solid play both at the plate and the hot corner lately, as he is slashing .300/.378/.650 with four homers and 10 RBI over his last 10 games.

As for what’s happening on the right side of the infield, Ian Kinsler, with the elite defense he provides, should be handling the majority of duties at second base, while Brock Holt, who owns a 1.621 OPS as a pinch hitter this season, should be one of the first bats off the bench in a close game.

And at first base, it’s pretty simple. Mitch Moreland will get the majority of at bats against right-handed pitchers, while Steve Pearce will be facing lefties.

Outfielders:

OF Mookie Betts
OF Andrew Benintendi
OF Jackie Bradley Jr.
OF/DH JD Martinez

Not much to say here. Benintendi in left, Bradley Jr. in center, Mookie Betts in right, and JD Martinez DH’ing.

If I were to guess, I would say the game one lineup against New York or Oakland will look something like this.

  1. Betts, RF
  2. Benintendi, LF
  3. Martinez, DH
  4. Bogaerts, SS
  5. Devers, 3B
  6. Pearce, 1B
  7. Kinsler, 2B
  8. Leon, C
  9. Bradley Jr., CF

So, there you have it. We’ll have to wait and see how accurate this really is when Alex Cora makes the roster official in a few days.

Chris Sale Allows Three Runs, Fans Eight in Final Start Before Postseason.

Making his final regular season start in game two of a doubleheader against the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night, Chris Sale looked to make any final adjustments needed before heading into his consecutive postseason with the Red Sox.

In what was his 27th start of the season and fourth since returning from the disabled list earlier in the month, the left-hander tossed nearly five innings, surrendered three runs on four hits, one walk, and two HBPs to go along with eight strikeouts on the night.

Coming off a standard four days rest in this one, it was a bit surprising to see Sale struggle the way he did in the first, as he hit two of the first four batters he faced while allowing two Orioles runs to cross the plate.

From that point, the 29-year-old retired nine of the next 11 hitters he faced before running into more trouble in the fifth, where he allowed a leadoff single to Caleb Joseph, recorded the first two outs of the inning, walked Trey Mancini on five pitches, and gave up an RBI single to Adam Jones, which plated the go-ahead run at the time from second base.

Clearly frustrated with himself, that is how Sale’s night would come to a conclusion.

On a more positive note, Wednesday’s performance was the most work the Florida native has gotten in a start since July 27th against the Minnesota Twins.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 92 (58 strikes), Sale threw 34 four-seam fastballs, 29 sliders, 25 changeups, and five two-seam fastballs. He was caught by Christian Vazquez.

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Topping out at 94.5 MPH with that four-seamer in the fifth inning, the former White Sox hurler induced 14 total swinging strikes and got 12 called for strikes.

Picking up the no-decision with his ERA inflating a bit, we can now officially say Sale’s 2018 campaign is in the books. Let’s take a look at some of his numbers from this season:

27 GS, 158 IP, 102 H, 39 R (37 ER), 34 BB, 237 K, 2.11 ERA, 0.86 WHIP

Pretty decent campaign for the southpaw in his second season with Boston. Given the rather low number of innings pitched, it will be interesting to see how that influences the American League Cy Young voting. If not Sale, I would probably give my hypothetical vote Rays ace Blake Snell. Those results will be announced on November 14th.

Outside of the individual accolades, most Red Sox fans are enthralled to see how Chris Sale will perform postseason time, and he’ll get his first crack at that on Friday in game one of the ALDS. Whether it comes against the New York Yankees or Oakland Athletics has yet to be determined.

In his one and only postseason run last year, Sale posted an unsightly 8.38 ERA over two games (one start) and 9.2 innings pitched against the Houston Astros.

But, that was last season. Things could be different now given the fact Sale will make his first start of this year’s ALDS at Fenway Park for a change. We’ll have to wait and see.