Now it can be said: the Boston Red Sox are in the postseason and are currently in the race to have the best overall record; this would give them home field advantage, which is very important during this time of the season. Boston is playing very well, and could head into October with a lot of momentum. However, they still have some questions they need to answer as they try to figure out their playoff roster.
One very important question is in regards to who is going to help set up Koji Uehara. Two positions are already filled in Craig Breslow and Junichi Tazawa, although Tazawa has gotten knocked around a bit over the last few months. Who else can help be the bridge? Even though he has been injured, Franklin Morales has been pitching very well recently; he is a lefty with an electric arm and one of the best pick-off moves you will ever see. He can also be very inconsistent. Brandon Workman is another possibility, but he is a rookie. One strong possibility is Ryan Dempster, who was moved out of the rotation to work out of the bullpen. He has been a closer before, and his stuff actually might play up if he is only in for an inning or so. This could be a very good move, if it works.
Another question is, who will be on the bench? You have to figure guys like Jonny Gomes, Daniel Nava and Mike Carp are locks. But what if Jacoby Ellsbury isn’t healthy? Jackie Bradley could be a very good option, and you won’t lose anything defensively. There is also Quintin Berry and his amazing speed. This is why Boston went out and got him for game-changing, and perhaps series-changing, moments to steal a base. Then there is Xander Bogaerts and John McDonald. Bogaerts is going to be an elite player, but he is only 20. McDonald, in the very brief times that we have seen him, has one of the best gloves in the business, but can’t hit at all. Which is more important? Bogaerts, who can win a game with a base hit, or McDonald, who could save a run or two when it really matters? My guess is that McDonald gets the nod in the Division Series, and then, if Boston goes further, you will see Bogaerts. Five games is such a short series; runs should be protected at all costs, so McDonald’s elite glove gets the edge, but barely. As a Boston fan, it is a really good feeling to be able to make these predictions. It’s been too long. Not Pittsburgh Pirates long, but long.