The Red Sox on Friday announced their roster for their forthcoming ALCS date with the Astros. It’s largely the same collection of names, although Boston has shuffled up its bullpen mix. Right-hander Hirokazu Sawamura and lefty Darwinzon Hernandez have both been added, while righty Matt Barnes and lefty Austin Davis have been removed. Barnes was initially omitted from Boston’s ALDS roster, but he was added as an injury replacement when fellow righty Garrett Richards sustained a hamstring strain. Because he was removed from the ALDS roster due to injury, Richards was ineligible for the ALCS roster, but he could potentially be added back to the World Series roster — if the Red Sox advance and if he is deemed healthy enough.
Here’s how Boston’s ALCS roster breaks down…
- Ryan Brasier
- Nathan Eovaldi
- Tanner Houck
- Adam Ottavino
- Nick Pivetta
- Hansel Robles
- Hirokazu Sawamura
- Garrett Whitlock
The 33-year-old Sawamura signed a two-year deal with the Sox last winter on the heels of an excellent career with the Yomiuri Giants and (more briefly) the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball. His rookie campaign in Major League Baseball was a strong one, as he pitched to a 3.06 ERA with a solid 26.2 percent strikeout rate and a hefty 51.8 percent ground-ball rate in 53 innings of relief. The primary knock on Sawamura is an untenable 13.7 percent walk rate. He’ll hope to curb that problematic lack of command in any ALCS matchups for which he’s called upon, but Sawamura’s 15.5 percent swinging-strike rate and 33.7 percent opponents’ chase rate both underline his ability to get a punchout in late-game settings when he’s at his best.
As for Hernandez, he’ll bring a power fastball to Boston’s arsenal of lefties. Like Sawamura, Hernandez has no problem when it comes to racking up punchouts (29.7 percent) but has been far too charitable in terms of free passes (17 percent). Walks aside, however, Hernandez has been extremely difficult for both lefties (.204 batting average, .370 slugging) and righties (.202 average, .326 slugging). It’d certainly be ideal if he had better command of his pitches, but his stinginess in yielding hits, regardless of platoon situation, could prove critical against a balanced Houston lineup that is deep in impact lefties (Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker, Michael Brantley) and righties (Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, Yuli Gurriel, Alex Bregman).
Barnes’ omission is surely a disappointment to the embattled closer but can’t come as a surprise after he was also omitted from the Division Series roster. The 31-year-old Barnes had a Jekyll-and-Hyde season, pitching to a 2.25 ERA with a 42 percent strikeout rate through 44 innings before crumbling with a 10.13 ERA in his final 10 2/3 frames. Those 10 2/3 innings were spread across 16 ugly appearances, with Barnes regularly being unable to complete a full inning of work. His strikeout rate plummeted to 26.7 percent in that time, while his walk rate spiked to 15 percent. Barnes also yielded four long balls in those 10 2/3 innings — matching his total through his season’s first 44 innings. A sudden decline of this nature and an omission from the postseason roster seemed unimaginable in July, when he signed a two-year, $18.75MM extension.