In setting a 25-man playoff roster, the Red Sox inevitably are going to leave some important regular-season players on the outside looking in. These are the five most intriguing on-the-bubble postseason candidates:
Role: Fifth outfielder
Skinny: Meant to be a key platoon bat, Young has instead struggled against lefties and put his value into question. With Rajai Davis likely to make the team as a pinch runner and extra outfielder, is there room or need for Young? He does have good numbers in his career against Houston starter Dallas Keuchel.
Role: Starting pitcher
Skinny: Could make a compelling case for Fister being the Game 3 starter, an experienced long man in the bullpen, or being left off the roster all together. He’s been a bit erratic this season, but he pitched well against Houston on Friday, and his season numbers are similar to Rick Porcello’s.
Role: Utility infielder
Skinny: Because of injuries to Dustin Pedroia and Eduardo Nunez, Holt has been playing a lot of second base lately. That said, he’s hit below .200, and with Nunez expected back and Pedroia likely to play regularly, is there really a role for Holt? Would the excellent glove of Deven Marrero be more valuable in a utility role?
Role: Late-inning reliever
Skinny: At times this season, Barnes was the Red Sox’ primary setup man, and at times, he was excellent in that role. A disappointing second half, though, left him behind Addison Reed, Joe Kelly, David Price and perhaps Brandon Workman for prime setup duty. Heath Hembree has fallen even farther out of the mix.
Role: Groundball specialist
Skinny: Missed almost the entire season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, but Smith pitched well enough in September to become an unlikely postseason roster candidate. His greatest strength is the fact he works with a two-seam fastball, providing a different look from the other righties in the bullpen.