Red Sox ALDS Roster Reaction: Thoughts On Inclusion Of J.D. Martinez, Others

The Red Sox must be confident Martinez can play at some point


Oct 7, 2021

The Boston Red Sox on Thursday announced their 26-man roster for the American League Division Series against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Among the surprises were the inclusion of J.D. Martinez, as well as the exclusion of Matt Barnes. Here are some immediate takeaways.

— Martinez getting added indicates the Red Sox believe he will be ready at some point in the series, although it might not be for Game 1. Martinez playing (or not) will be telling. He worked out Wednesday, and the Red Sox were seeing how his ankle responded Thursday before making any concrete decisions.

If he plays Thursday, then it seems all will be fine. If he doesn’t, then it is a sign the Red Sox are taking a calculated risk by including him on the roster. Should the Red Sox find out he actually won’t be able to play during the series, they can’t just swap him with somebody else. That he’s included shows Boston is as close to confident as possible that Martinez will be able to play.

— Garrett Richards and Martín Pérez both making the roster over Matt Barnes show how much of a grind the back half of the season has been for the 2021 All-Star.

Put simply, it probably boils down to this: Starters are going to have a short leash in the postseason, they always do. If you’re not getting the best version of Barnes, it is better to have an innings-eater like Pérez, instead, because he can give you multiple effective innings. One inning of a shaky Barnes pales in comparison to a few innings from a long reliever.

The Red Sox have a few relievers who are mired in bumpy stretches, Josh Taylor and Adam Ottavino among them. Ultimately, Boston seemed to believe that the potential risk with them was lower than with Barnes.

— That opens a conversation about what the final innings are looking like for the Red Sox. If the Red Sox use a new pitcher in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, it’s shaping up to likely be some combination of Hansel Robles, Ryan Brasier and Garrett Whitlock. However, Whitlock has been good enough that the Red Sox might choose to just use him in the biggest spots, whenever in the game that is.

— The inclusion of Danny Santana is an interesting one. He hasn’t played in a big league game since Sept. 10, and he doesn’t necessarily specialize in any one thing. Whereas the Red Sox could’ve kept a more sure-handed defensive player like Jonathan Araúz, speedster like Jarren Duran or third catcher in Connor Wong, they instead went with Santana.

That’s a safe pick, and perhaps what the Red Sox need, instead of someone they would use for just one skill. It also helps that Santana can play first base, giving the Red Sox options beyond Bobby Dalbec, Travis Shaw and Kyle Schwarber.

Where exactly they use Santana though is unclear. The Red Sox only used him as an outfielder and first baseman this season, so the most likely scenario is him coming in to play center when someone like Christian Arroyo gets taken out, which would result in Kiké Hernández likely moving to second base.

Thumbnail photo via Abbie Parr/USA TODAY Sports Images
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