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.

Advertisements

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.

chart (6).png

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.

RECAP: Astros end #RedSox season with narrow 5-4 win.

Well, that’s it, the season is over. What looked so promising just a few hours ago ended in disappointment. The Red Sox had the lead in this game going into the eighth inning, but they could not hold on.

Once again, the starting pitching was abysmal, with Rick Porcello only lasting three full innings before getting saved by Chris Sale. In that span, Porcello surrendered two runs on five hits, three walks, and a hit batsman to go along with four strikeouts. Allowing nine guys to reach base while only being able to record nine outs is far from spectacular, especially if you take into account that he needed 70 pitches to do so. Like I said though, Chris Sale stepped up like David Price did yesterday. He took things over in the fourth inning and was nails until the eighth. Four innings pitched, two walks, and six strikeouts from the fourth until the seventh. Did they stretch him too far? Maybe, but I didn’t have a problem letting Sale start the eighth. Unfortunately, he was running out of gas, and the Astros took advantage of it. Alex Bregman tied the game by taking Sale deep on a 2-1 changeup and the air was taken out of Fenway Park. Craig Kimbrel would come on with two outs in the inning, and that marked the beginning of the end. A George Springer walk put runners on first and second with two outs and Josh Reddick at the plate. The former Red Sox farm hand drove in the go-ahead run on an RBI single to left, essentially ending his former team’s season.

Carlos Beltran drove in another run in the ninth, which proved to make a difference given what Rafael Devers in the bottom half of the inning. All and all, when we needed him most, Craig Kimbrel basically disappeared. The flamethrower did not make many big pitches tonight, nor did he prove effective in his first meaningful action of this series. It was only one run, but that matters too much in the postseason to go untouched.

On the other side of things, Charlie Morton wasn’t too good either. He was charged with two runs in 4.1 innings he pitched, though he only allowed one run while he was on the mound. That run came early for the Red Sox, as Xander Bogaerts hit his first and only home run of the postseason in the first.

The second run was charged in part because of Justin Verlander. Surprisingly, Astros manager decided to make like the Red Sox and roll with his best starter out of the bullpen. Andrew Benintendi introduced him to the new role by taking him deep to right field for a two-run home run, giving his team a 3-2 lead.

I was really feeling it after this. I was already thinking about Game 5 in Houston on Wednesday when I shouldn’t have been. That was the only hit Verlander allowed and he definitely deserved that W he picked up.

The Astros closer Ken Giles came on after Verlander responsible for the last six outs of the game and ending the Red Sox season. He got them in order in the eighth, but the ninth got very interesting. Rafael Devers led off the inning with an inside the park home run in one of the most surprising plays these eyes have seen.

Unfortunately, the next three batters could not do anything against Giles and Dustin Pedroia ended the season with a ground out.

I forgot to mention it before, but John Farrell was ejected from this game arguing balls and strikes in the second. Also, Brian Butterfield pretty much cost the Red Sox a run in the third by sending Mitch Moreland home when he should not have. If these two things don’t happen who knows how this game goes.

With all that out-of-the-way and the season coming to an end, Dave Dombrowski has a lot to consider this offseason. Does John Farrell remain manager? Do they go after Giancarlo Stanton? JD Martinez? Resign Mitch Moreland? Eduardo Nunez? Only time will tell. Should be a long offseason, wish it could have been a little shorter.

As for me, I’ll have a few blogs coming this week recapping the year and what to expect this offseason. Thanks for a great season, I had a lot of fun doing this.

RECAP: David Price comes through in big spot as #RedSox stave off elimination with 10-3 victory.

Win or go home. That was the mindset the Red Sox had to have coming into today’s game against the Astros. Doug Fister got the start, and there were reasons to be confident given how good his postseason numbers are. Unfortunately, that’s not how things went for Fister as he only lasted 1.1 innings before being taken out. In that span, the Astros scored three times, all in the first inning. Once again, Carlos Correa hit a first inning home run, marking the third straight game the Astros had done so.

Honestly, I thought the game was over after that home run. It just got over the center field wall and the first thing I thought was, “here we go again.” Luckily though, things did not spiral out of control for the Red Sox. Joe Kelly picked up the win by getting out of the second thanks to Mookie Betts…

…and pitching a clean third inning. This made way for David Price to pitch for the first time since Friday, and he was really something else. Four complete innings to go along with four strikeouts in the lefty’s most important performance of the season. We all know about the problems Price has had in the postseason, but he looked like a different guy today. I was surprised they stretched him out for so long, and with 53 pitches today, there’s no way he pitches tomorrow. I do love what he had to say after the game, though:

The remainder of the game was wrapped up by Addison Reed and Carson Smith, who bounced back nicely from Friday’s game with two scoreless innings.

Offensively, the Red Sox showed approximately five times more life then they did in Houston. The funny thing is, all the run production came from the bottom half of the lineup. Batters 1-4 went a combined 3 for 18 with two runs scored while batters 5-9 went a combined 12 for 20 with eight runs scored and all 10 RBIs. In an inning where they easily could have scored more runs, Sandy Leon got the Red Sox scoring started in the second with an RBI single. Hanley Ramirez followed this up with an RBI single next inning, and the lead was cut to one run. After Brad Peacock was taken out of the game in favor of Francisco Liriano, Rafael Devers had a moment. On an 0-1 slider, Devers mashed his first career postseason home run into the bleachers, giving his team the lead.

The bats would take a short break, but they really turned it on in the seventh. Hanley and Devers continued their great days with some more RBI hits, and Jackie Bradley Jr. secured the W with a three-run home run off of Joe Musgrove.

One thing I found interesting was how much Hanley Ramirez was into this game. Over the span of this past season, we’ve rarely seen Hanley this fired up, but it’s been much more noticeable since last Thursday. I mean…look at that intensity.

This is what the Red Sox need. They needed their guys to step up and that is exactly what happened tonight. Rick Porcello faces off against Charlie Morton tomorrow afternoon. Another do or die game, I expect them to play just as they did today.

1 down, 10 to go. 

RECAP: Drew Pomeranz allows two home runs as #RedSox fall to Astros 8-2 again.

On a day they needed to bounce back in a big way, the Red Sox did just the opposite. Drew Pomeranz made his first career postseason start, and he was worse than Chris Sale on Thursday. Like Sale, he gave up a home run in the first inning, this one off the bat of Carlos Correa, and that gave the Astros an early 2-0 lead. Later in the third, the lefty allowed another two runs, the first coming from a George Springer solo shot, and the second run coming on a Jose Altuve RBI single. That would be all for Pomeranz, and the bullpen did not do anything to help in relief. Carson Smith introduced himself by walking the first two batters he faced, and the Astros easily could have scored off of Smith if it were not for Deven Marrero’s great catch at third. The best part of this game was David Price. The lefty came in after Smith and looked great in the 2.2 innings he pitched, only allowing one hit while walking Jose Altuve intentionally. When Price left the game though, that’s when things got away. Eduardo Rodriguez and Addison Reed combined to allow four runs on three hits and a walk in the sixth, and that put the final nail in the coffin for this game.

On the other side of things, the offense could only muster two runs for the second day in a row. Another Cy Young Award winner, Dallas Keuchel, held the Red Sox bats in check in the five and two-thirds innings he pitched. The only run they could score off of him looked meaningful at the time when Jackie Bradley Jr. drove in Chris Young on an RBI single. That cut the lead in half, but the Red Sox could not capitalize on the early scoring opportunities that were presented to them. The only other scoring play came in the ninth on another Jackie Bradley Jr. RBI single. So, at the very least, JBJ may be coming out of that slump he was in to end the regular season.

Doug Fister gets the ball tomorrow for Game 3 against Brad Peacock. Last time out against the Red Sox, Peacock only allowed two runs in five innings. With their backs against the wall, I expect to see some desperation out of this team with the best players in the lineup. Not Chris Young, not Deven Marrero, nope. Rafael Devers and Hanley Ramirez have to be in there. It sounds like Mookie Betts is okay after being removed from the game yesterday. They’re going to need the Doug Fister we saw in Cleveland back in August if they want to win this game. Should be interesting to say the least.

0 down, 11 to go.

RECAP: Chris Sale gets shelled as #RedSox drop Game 1 to Astros 8-2.

After all the hype Chris Sale was getting, after he said he’s ready to throw his arm off, he goes out and throws a stinker. Did he have a case of bad nerves before his first ever postseason start? Perhaps, but that’s no excuse for a pitcher with the talent he has. In all honesty, I was expecting him and Justin Verlander to go head to head and both throw gems. Instead, neither pitcher was at their best, especially Sale. The lefty opened his outing by striking out George Springer. Great, I thought, right? Nope, because Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve proceeded to mash back to back solo shots and give the Astros an early two-run lead. He would settle down a bit after that by tossing two scoreless innings, but the game got away in the fourth. A Marwin Gonzalez 2 RBI double with two outs scored two more runs, which actually untied the game at that point. Next inning, after recording the first two outs via the K, Jose Altuve took Sale deep for the second team, inflating the lead to three runs. That should have been Sale’s last inning, but he was brought back out for the sixth, for some reason.

A leadoff double followed by a walk led to John Farrell going into the bullpen earlier than he probably wanted to, but Joe Kelly was called on to try and get out of the sixth. Instead, he did just the opposite by loading the bases and allowing two more runs to cross the plate on a Brian McCann single. He retired the side after that, and that made way for rookie Austin Maddox’s postseason debut. Personally, I thought this spot should have belonged to Brandon Workman, but I’m not the manager. He was greeted by Jose Altuve, who took the newcomer deep for his THIRD long ball of the game, joining the likes of Reggie Jackson, Adrian Beltre, and Babe Ruth to name a few, as the only players to do so in a postseason game. In any other circumstance, I would have loved watching this. Altuve is definitely one of my favorite players to watch, it’s just too bad he did this against the Red Sox. Almost forgot to mention this, but, Rick Porcello pitched in this game. Yeah, 2016 Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello pitched the ninth inning of a 8-2 game his team was losing in. That is quite the downfall from grace.

On the other side of things, this game could not have started in a worst fashion. I’m not talking about Chris Sale, I’m talking about Eduardo Nunez. From all the reports this past week, it looked like Eduardo Nunez was going to be healthy enough to play in this series, thus he was put in at DH for Game 1. Well, he could not even run out a ground ball, and he was taken out of the game. See below:

That was ultimately a sign of what was to come for the Red Sox, and it was not good. The lone positive from this game is from when they tied things up at two in the fourth. Sandy Leon drove in the first run in the second on an RBI single, and Rafael Devers drove in the second run on a sac fly to right, scoring Mitch Moreland from third. That was all the scoring they could do, and that’s not going to get it done against a team as good as the Astros.

Drew Pomeranz gets the start tomorrow, and it really is do or die this early. If the Red Sox can win and head home with a split, I’ll take it. But, if they drop Game 2, the series is essentially over. I believe in Pomeranz too, which is the crazy part. Offense needs to sep it up too, which could be tough against Dallas Keuchel.

0 down, 11 to go.