With the Boston Red Sox nine games up on the Rays and 10 games to go , not even Bobby V serving up Popeyes and Budweiser could derail this team from winning the American League East. Unless the Sharknado hits Boston, the Sox will start their World Series quest Oct. 9 at Fenway Park.
The Sox will have decisions to make when it comes to the playoff roster. The playoffs are a different kind of animal when it comes to assembling a team. The marathon is over and the sprint has begun. With the Red Sox needing to trim the roster back down to 25, let's play manager - who's in, who's out and what should the Red Sox roster look like for the ALDS.
1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF 2. Shane Victorino, RF 3. Dustin Pedroia, 2B 4. David Ortiz, DH 5. Mike Napoli, 1B 6. Daniel Nava, LF 7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia 8. Will Middlebrooks, 3B 9. Stephen Drew, SS
The Red Sox starting lineup will not be much different than what we've seen through the regular season. However, a lot will depend on the health of Jacoby Ellsbury. All reports seem to indicate that Ellsbury will be back in center and hitting leadoff. If Els is out, Jackie Bradley Jr will be on the roster. If Els is good to go, JBJ is the odd man out. Daniel Nava will be the primary left fielder, especially against right-handed pitchers. While an argument could be made to give Xander Bogaerts the nod over Middlebrooks or Drew, don't expect manager John Farrell to suddenly increase Xander's time when the playoffs begin.
Jonny Gomes, OF Mike Carp, 1B David Ross, C Xander Bogaerts, INF Quintin Berry, OF
Jonny Gomes, Mike Carp and David Ross will all be here of course. Gomes gets playing time in left and provides power off the bench. Carp gives Farrell the option of a left-handed pinch hitter and David Ross will back up Salty. Bradley is insurance in case Ellsbury can't go and provides outfield depth. Bogaerts will be the utility infielder as he can play third, short and could fill-in at second base if Dustin Pedroia is abducted by aliens. The name that sticks out here on the bench is Quintin Berry. Berry was brought in to fill a Dave Roberts-type role and if Boston needs a late inning steal, Berry will be the man.
1. Jon Lester 2. Clay Buchholz 3. John Lackey 4. Jake Peavy
The rotation could be shuffled any number of ways. Who is the number one is not so important as having four healthy arms in a five-game series. Ryan Dempster is destined for the bullpen given the way he has pitched lately and his experience there. This would leave lefty Felix Doubront the odd man out and off the ALDS roster.
Koji Uehara Craig Breslow Junichi Tazawa Ryan Dempster Brandon Workman Matt Thornton Franklin Morales
The bullpen is where manager John Farrell has some tough decisions to make. Uehara, Breslow, Tazawa are the obvious late inning arms. The right-handed rookie Brandon Workman seems to have earned Farrell's trust and can go more than an inning if needed. If Dempster ends up in the 'pen that leaves the Sox in need of another lefthander. The veteran Thornton likely gets the nod here and Franklin Morales will be the situational lefty. Felix Doubront just doesn't seem suited for the bullpen with his inconsistency in throwing strikes.
It seems strange to say after Bobby V steered this team into an iceberg last season, but it will be an interesting couple of weeks as the Red Sox position themselves for a playoff run. One year removed from a 69 win season, the Sox are in the drivers seat with the most wins in the American League. October baseball is back in Boston.