Red Sox’ Roster Taking Shape for September Playoff Push

Red Sox' Roster Taking Shape for September Playoff PushIt was a successful week on and off the field. Thank you to all of Red Sox Nation for helping us raise $4.5 million for the Jimmy Fund, and thanks to all the celebrities and guests who helped make it happen. One of those who has always helped the cause and been there every year is Ben Affleck.

Why do the Rays give the Red Sox so much trouble?
–Stacy, Burlington, Mass.

I think when the Red Sox play the Rays, the Rays play at a much higher level of intensity than they normally do. The Red Sox bring out the best in the Rays. I think when the Rays were proving themselves last year, the games against the Red Sox and Yankees were always a barometer of how they were doing and how well they could compete. Beating the Red Sox in the ALCS was the next step in their believing that they could do it and they were legitimate.

Now that rosters have expanded to 40 players, which minor league call-ups could make an impact for the Red Sox?
–Brian, Warren, R.I.

I am not sure any will make a huge difference. I think these are likely to be complementary players such as Joey Gathright and Brian Anderson. It's nice to have more options if you are Terry Francona, but in the end, it will be your current regulars who are going to make or break your season. Some organizations who are not in the mix chose to bring up a bunch of guys to sort of see what they have in their system and evaluate them for a month. Obviously, the Red Sox chose to go in another direction in that area, trying to help some areas but not bringing too many up.

Tim Wakefield looked sharp in his last start. How is Wake's back feeling? Will he be able to contribute in September?
–Eric, Lafayette, Ohio

It all depends on how he reacts to the shot. He had one Monday and seemed to be getting around fairly well. It’s amazing that his symptoms returned in the middle of the game last time out. He was pitching so well and appeared to be getting around well enough. If he is unable to pitch again, then this will be a huge loss for the Sox. You saw how well he pitched last time out and has all season. In my estimation for the Red Sox, this time around they need a healthy Tim Wakefield to go deep into the postseason. Jon Lester and Josh Beckett at the front of the rotation are in need of No. 3 and No. 4 to step forward, and I think a healthy Wakefield could be that guy.

Theo Epstein did a good job of tweaking the roster in August. How do you foresee Joey Gathright, the Red Sox' latest acquisition, contributing?
–Cameron, Harbor Heights, Fla.

Gathright will be used as an extra outfielder and for speed off the bench to run. We have had glimpses of him in Tampa Bay and Kansas City in years past. He has reasonable speed and has stolen 20 bases a few times. The problem has been staying in the majors and getting on base. He is another option off the bench as the roster expands.

Who do you think will win the AL Cy Young?
–Bob, Scituate, Mass.

The two names that jump out to me are Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia. Honorable mentions go to Felix Hernandez and Zack Greinke with five weeks left. Verlander pitched as dominant a performance we saw in person this season against the Red Sox. He was throwing 99 mph in his last inning of work. That aside, his numbers across the board have been consistent, and his strikeout numbers are amazing.

In Sabathia's case, when free agents sign for big money, you only hope they back up the price. Sabathia has done that and then some. As far as Hernandez goes, you wonder what his numbers would look like from a wins perspective if he had a good team behind him. Lastly, Greinke will get many votes because of his off-the-field story and his ERA. His win total, despite a bad team behind him, will also go along way. Sorry for the wishy-washy answer, but there is a lot of baseball left to play. 

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