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Leandre: Breaking Down Each ‘Bubble Player’ on the Red Sox

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The Boston Red Sox’s magical 2018 season could come to a screeching halt should they make the wrong decisions in regards to their postseason roster.

It’s quite funny to think about a team with 108 wins is loaded with question marks as the postseason rolls around. Whether that be in the bullpen, behind the plate, or the bench depth, it’s safe to say that Dave Dombrowski and Alex Cora have their work cut out for them.

So let’s break down some “bubble players” making a case to be here come October.

Joe Kelly – RHP

It’s been a tale of about four seasons for Joe Kelly so far.

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Through May, the right-hander had an ERA of 1.80 and had 28 strikeouts in 25 innings with just nine walks. People were talking about Joe Kelly being a potential All-Star reliever to that point. Then, in June and July, he had a combined ERA of 8.35, while having a strikeout to walk ratio of 15:14. He had an electric August, posting a 1.42 ERA in 13.2 innings pitched, striking out 17 and walking four, but in September he had an ERA north of 10 in just seven innings of work.

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But, if Nathan Eovaldi is in the starting rotation in the ALDS, the Red Sox really need that guy to turn to who can get his fastball north of 100 MPH. Aside from Kimbrel, Kelly is the only pitcher that has shown they can hit triple digits.

Bobby Poyner – LHP

Poyner had been wrongfully banished to AAA for the majority of the season after cracking the opening day roster. But, since returning, Poyner has been very effective. After posting a 3.12 ERA in 8.2 innings of work, while also striking out 10 and walking just two, Poyner became a trustworthy option in the arsenal of Alex Cora.

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Despite not having blow-by stuff, Poyner is able to be deceptive enough to make his 92 MPH fastball ‘look’ like 95-97 MPH. His changeup became a very useful weapon for him as well and actually set up a good portion of his strikeouts.

On top of that, Poyner has a strikeout percentage of 25.3 percent, and a LOB percentage (percent of runners of left on base) of 88.5 percent—which is absolutely unheard of. He’s become a valuable part of this team, and he has the best chance to make the roster out of anybody on this list.

Blake Swihart – UTIL

If it weren’t for the recent successes of Christian Vazquez, Blake Swihart would be a lock for the postseason roster.

Swihart hit .248 since July 1, but considering the constant inconsistencies revolving around him all season, that’s pretty solid. But in his last eight games, Swihart hit .350 with two home runs and provides a very good utility aspect to his game. Having played catcher, third base, second base, left field, and right field this season, the Red Sox have plenty of options with the 26-year-old from Bedford, Texas.

Odds are that if Swihart makes the postseason roster, he won’t be starting. So looking at his numbers when he has come off of the bench, he is hitting .364 with an OPS of .869 in 40 games as a substitute. That’s huge, and that should keep him on the radar for Dombrowski come October.

 

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