2018 Red Sox Bench Preview

One important battle for Red Sox fans to watch this spring will be the bench. Hanley Ramirez and Mitch Moreland will be sharing first base duties. Eduardo Nunez will start at second until Dustin Pedroia returns from injury and then become a super utility player. That leaves Brock Holt, Devin Marrero, and Blake Swihart battling for the last two bench spots. All three players have their strengths and weaknesses. Swihart finally looks healthy after battling injuries the past two years and has no options left. All three of these players will be looking to prove to the Sox why they should make the opening day roster.

Coming into 2018  Swihart is only three years removed from being the Red Sox top prospect. He made his debut in 2015 and did not disappoint. In 2015 he played in 84 games and hit .274 with five home runs. He was seen as the catcher of the future due to his offensive upside. In 2016 he played in only nineteen games before an ankle injury ended his season. In 2017 Christian Vazquez had a breakout season and Swihart only had five plate appearances. Swihart is no longer seen as the catcher of the future in Boston. As a result the Red Sox have used his athleticism to find him playing time and have turned him into a super utility player. So far this spring Swihart has returned healthy and looks to have regained his stroke. He had two home runs today against Baltimore reminding people that he is still dangerous with the bat. Swihart has no options left meaning if he does not make the opening day roster he would be placed on waivers and most likely be claimed by another team. The Sox value Swihart for his bat and if he can stay hot it will be hard to deny him a spot.

Devin Marrero like Swihart is out of options. Marrero does not have the offensive capability like Swihart but he is extremely good defensively. In seventy one games in the majors last year he hit .211. Marrero does offer some value with the bat as last year he hit .291 against lefthanders. In order to secure a spot he will have to prove he can hit right handed pitching as last year he hit .172 against righties. Marrero does not have the offensive upside like Swihart. He does have the defensive upside Swihart lacks and he can play multiple positions. In order to earn a spot he will have to show improvement with his bat.

Brock Holt unlike Swihart and Marrero has been a staple on the Sox roster since 2014. The Red Sox acquired Holt from Pittsburgh in 2014 in exchange for Mark Melancon. Holt instantly became a fan favorite with his all out effort in a forgettable 2014 season for the Red Sox. In 2015 he made his first All Star team and was viewed as an essential player to the Red Sox. Over the past two year’s Holt has struggled with numerous injuries. He’s failed to play in one hundred games the past two seasons and last year he hit a career low .200. Holt was once a lock to make the roster but this year that is not the case. Like Marrero he will have to show he can hit. He will also have to show that he can stay healthy and that he can be the player he once was. Holt was much more experience than Marrero and Swihart. If Holt shows he isn’t past his injuries then he may not have a spot on the roster.

All three of these players have something to prove. They will be playing with a chip on their shoulder this spring which will make Spring Training even better. Only two of these three will be on the Red Sox opening day roster. Red Sox fans will just have to wait and find out which two it is.

 

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Astros Force Game Seven

Last night the Houston Astros offense came to alive as they defeated the New York Yankees 7-1. It looked as if the Astros were on the verge of losing the series after their bats went dead. The Astros won the first two games of the series and looked to be pulling away. The series changed however when the series shifted to New York as the Yankees won games 3-5. The Astros bats were held in check as before yesterday the most runs they scored in a game in this series was four. With their season on the brink of ending the Astros key players stepped up when needed the most.

 

At this year’s trade deadline, the Astros surprised many by trading for Tigers long time ace Justin Verlander. He has been nothing short of amazing in the playoffs. In the first game of this series Verlander pitched a complete game while only allowing one run. Last night when the Astros needed him the most he delivered. He went seven innings while only allowing one run and struck out eight. The Astros offense backed their ace as Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, and Brian McCann all came up big.

Altuve who may win the AL MVP award had two hits including a homerun. Bregman who has been clutch for the Astros during the playoffs had two runs batted in including a double in the eight as the Astros pounded David Robertson. McCann who had been quiet in the series up to this point also had an RBI double in the eight off Robertson. During the regular season the Astros were known for their offense because of their deep lineup. In their first-round matchup against the Red Sox the Astros again displayed their potent offense. Against the Yankees their offense had been kept in check until last night. With their season on the line the Astros offense came alive behind the man on the mound has been nothing short of extraordinary. Tonight, the Astros place the ball and their season in the hands of Charlie Morton. Game seven is where legends are born and tonight for both these teams legends will be made.

Photo Credit: Marco Torres

#Astros

David Price Proves His Critics Wrong

In December of 2015 the Red Sox signed David Price to a seven year contract worth 217 million dollars. The deal at the time was the largest contract ever given to a pitcher. Since signing that deal Price has received heavy criticism and clashed with the media in Boston. He hasn’t put up the spectacular numbers he did prior to arriving in Boston and has continued to struggle in the postseason until this past week. This year Price has dealt with elbow problems which placed him on the disabled list for the majority of the second half of the season forcing the Red Sox to use him as a reliever for the playoffs. In the opening round against the Houston Astros Price is pitching like the pitcher the Red Sox thought they were getting. As a starter Price is 0-8 in the postseason and in his only  postseason start last year against the Cleveland Indians he did not pitch well. Yesterday Price changed the narrative and saved the Red Sox season.

So far in this series against the Astros the Red Sox starting pitching has gotten destroyed. That didn’t change yesterday as the Red Sox starter Doug Fister only lasted one inning. Price entered the game in the fourth inning after two scoreless innings of relief from Joe Kelly and stunned the Fenway faithful. Facing the most potent offense in baseball Price delivered four innings of scoreless relief. The Sox bats followed suit as they came alive for the first time of the series and scored ten runs. The offensive explosion included homeruns by Jackie Bradley  and rookie Rafael Devers. The Red Sox needed some sort of jolt and it came from Price.

Many people have been critical of the starter this year. He needed a defining moment in a Red Sox uniform and he got that yesterday. Price may never pitch again this series depending on if the Red Sox can complete a comeback and win this series. Regardless of how this series ends Price stepped up when the Sox needed him the most and finally began to justify the contract Boston gave him.

Photo Credit: Jason Miller/ Getty Images

Dodgers The Best Team in Baseball?

 

Cody Bellinger, Yasiel Puig, Justin Turner

Photo Credit: AP Photo/ Mark J. Terrill

Last night the Los Angeles Dodgers won their 80th game of the season. The Dodgers have lost only 33 games this season and now have a 15.5 game lead over the Rockies for first place in the National League West. The Dodgers have the best record in baseball because of their young stars and talented veterans. At the trade deadline this team only got stronger as they acquired Yu Darvish from the Texas Rangers. Darvish joined an already formidable rotation that included Clayton Kershaw and Alex Wood. This team has been the best in the majors because of it’s depth and the moves made during the season to improve this team.

One big storyline for the Dodgers this season has been the production they’ve received from their young stars most notably Cody Bellinger. The young first baseman has taken the league by storm in his rookie year. Through his first 345 plate appearances in the majors he already has 33 homeruns and is on pace for 43. That means that Bellinger will fall six short of the rookie record which is held by Mark McGwire who hit 49 in his rookie season. The Dodgers are also receiving stellar performances from other young players such as Corey Seager  who is becoming one of the best young shortstops in baseball.  Seager is unique because he is not only an above average fielder but also an above average hitter.

The Dodgers have not only been an offensive force but their pitching has been equally impressive. Kershaw is having another great year but the biggest surprise has been Alex Wood. He was once a promising young starter for Atlanta but has yet to reach his potential as he has dealt with injuries that have hindered his career. So far this year Wood has been healthy and a difference maker as through 20 starts he has 14 wins and 1 loss. With Wood’s emergence and the addition of Darvish the Dodgers have a formidable top three and don’t have to put any pressure on fellow starter Hyun- Jin Ryu who has is 2-1 since returning from an injury.

Before the season the Dodgers were the favorite in the National League. They have the deepest rotation in the majors and if the playoffs were to start today their fifth best option would be Rich Hill who has 8 wins and only four losses. They have a great mix of veterans such as Justin Turner and Chase Utley to guide their young studs. Their biggest strength however is their young stars who are making major league pitching look easy. This team is built for a deep run and it seems like the only question is who they will play in the World Series

Written By: Jamie Gatlin

#Dodgers #Baseball #MLB

Red Sox Make a Statement

Killer B's

Photo Credit: Billie Weiss/ Boston Red Sox/ Getty Images

Yesterday was the trade deadline for Major League Baseball and while teams such as the Yankees and Dodgers added high impact pieces the Red Sox made one move. They acquired set up man Addison Reed from the New York Mets to improve the bullpen. The Red Sox did not add any offensive pieces other than Eduardo Nunez who they acquired last week. While many people wanted the Sox to acquire a high impact bat the improvement on offense needs to come within. The Sox young core has struggled this season which is why the Red Sox rank near the bottom of almost every offensive category. A return to form from their young core Is better than any possible trade the Sox could have made at the deadline. Last night the Sox rewarded Dombrowski’s faith as they broke through in one of the biggest games of the year.

Last night the Red Sox beat the Cleveland Indians in a rematch of last years playoffs. The sox sent Doug Fister to the mound who has struggled mightily in a Red Sox uniform. Yesterday  when the Sox needed Fister to step up he did exactly that. No one was expecting him to give this team a chance to win and he did exactly that and more. Fister held the Indians scoreless for seven innings before giving up two runs in the eighth. His terrific start was backed by the awakening of the Red Sox offense. The Sox were lead by Mookie Betts who appears to have broken out of his mini slump. Betts was the runner up for the AL MVP last year and showed why last night as he drove in three of the Sox six runs. The Sox offense was also fueled by the rookie Rafael Devers who had four hits. Devers was the Sox top ranked prospect and is showing why the team was against involving him in any trade. Devers has ten hits in his first twenty four at bats in the majors including two homeruns. Eduardo Nunez continued his hot start in a Red Sox uniform as he had three hits raising his average with the Red Sox to .317.

Last night the Sox showed the offensive team that they’re capable of being. In order for the Red Sox to be successful they need to consistency play like they did last night.  The Red Sox have all the pieces to be a contender they just need to show it. If the Sox can play up to their capabilities then a deep playoff run is in store and the only thing stopping them from that possibility is themselves.

Written By: Jamie Gatlin

#RedSox

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