This week, the Boston Red Sox keep getting closer, and closer, and closer to an AL East title.
That must excite a lot of Red Sox fans knowing the Red Sox are playing somewhat meaningful baseball this late in the season but let’s pretend that they were already in the playoffs, that would be no reason to tune out. After all, there’s still position battles going on for playoff roster spots.
That’s right. In the playoffs, teams tend to carry one less pitcher and one more position player, so the Red Sox have the chance to get a little creative if they want. Sometimes, it’s more beneficial to have a specialized bench than it is four general and versatile backups, although the team may still go with the same guys who have been on their bench for the duration of the season.
The extra spot may allow them to carry a third catcher (Blake Swihart) like they did in 2007 with now-Rays manager Kevin Cash. It adds depth and allows teams to pinch hit or run for their catchers and still have an emergency depth guy.
There could also be room for a pinch runner–like Rajai Davis. Sure, he’s only been a part-time player since coming to Boston, but the guy has stolen 29 bags in 115 games this season. Plus, the Red Sox had Quintin Berry on their 2013 roster and Dave Roberts in 2004, so that type of deal isn’t unprecedented.
Deven Marrero is someone they could consider turning to not so much for his bat, but for his defensive abilities. Eduardo Nunez and Dustin Pedroia aren’t in great health now and Rafael Devers is not fun to watch at third base. That said, maybe the team considers him as a defensive replacement.
Oh, and Sam Travis is 16-for-42 (.381 batting average) against lefties in the bigs this season. That could be a helpful bat off the bench.
If any regulars get left off the playoff roster (if), then they would probably be Chris Young and Brock Holt. Sure, both are versatile players, but they don’t really give any special production on a playoff roster.