If you thought this postseason run was giving you 2018 World Series vibes, the Boston Red Sox will share another similarity in their 2021 campaign.
The American League Championship Series is set between the Red Sox and Houston Astros, who on Tuesday defeated the Chicago White Sox to advance to their fifth consecutive battle for the pennant. The series begins Friday, Oct. 15 in Houston, and teams will have until that morning to submit their roster for the seven-game series.
Boston doesn’t have as many tough decisions to make compared to selecting its roster for the AL Division Series against the Rays, but there’s a lot to account for when preparing to go against the Astros, who bested the Red Sox in the season series, 5-2, and outscored Boston 42-25.
But such was the case against the AL East champion Rays, whom the Red Sox needed just four games to take down amid their absolute tear of a postseason thus far.
J.D. Martinez showed that even if he’s still dealing with an ankle injury from the last game of the regular season he’s worth having in the order for the ALDS. And with the way manager Alex Cora is aggressively managing his pitching staff, starters and relievers will remain hot commodities against an explosive offense like Houston’s.
Unfortunately, Garrett Richards is ineligible to be with the team for the ALCS after sustaining a left hamstring strain. After initially making the roster for the ALDS, he was replaced by Matt Barnes and isn’t able to return unless the Red Sox make it to the World Series thanks to a silly Major League Baseball rule.
Fingers crossed that happens, but it’s next man up until then. Hirokazu Sawamura and Darwinzon Hernandez were left off the Wild Card and ALDS rosters, but that could change against an Astros team that has crushed against lefties.
Here’s a projection for how the Red Sox’s 26-man ALCS roster could potentially shape up:
Pitchers: Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Nathan Eovaldi, Tanner Houck, Adam Ottavino, Martín Pérez, Nick Pivetta, Hansel Robles, Eduardo Rodriguez, Chris Sale, Hirokazu Sawamura, Josh Taylor, Garrett Whitlock
Catchers: Kevin Plawecki, Christian Vázquez
Infielders: Christian Arroyo, Xander Bogaerts, Bobby Dalbec, Rafael Devers, Travis Shaw
Outfielders: J.D. Martinez, Hunter Renfroe, Kyle Schwarber, Alex Verdugo
Utility: Kiké Hernández, Danny Santana
Ultimately, we predict the team brings along Matt Barnes because it’s hard to leave your All-Star closer off the roster again, even if he hasn’t gotten back to his grove. Depending on how much credence Cora gives to adding more right-handed relievers to the mix, we might see Hirokazu Sawamura fall back into favor this series.
A lot can happen between now and Friday, though.
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