Red Sox

Drellich: Rodriguez, Porcello or Fister? Why it should matter less than you think

Drellich: Rodriguez, Porcello or Fister? Why it should matter less than you think

BOSTON — The party could begin as early as Thursday night at Fenway Park. If the Sox want the clubhouse disco to extend into October, there’s an obvious choice to make with their Division Series roster.

All this hand-wringing over which pitcher starts what game is a little unnecessary. Because all three guys who seem uncertain — Doug Fister, Eduardo Rodriguez and Rick Porcello — should be on the roster, even if it means carrying 12 pitchers, and John Farrell must be fearless yanking any of the three almost immediately.

Only two members of that back-end trio will be in line to make an actual start in the DS (as long as it gets to four games this time). Here’s betting the starters will be Rodriguez and Porcello. 

But the odd man out, whoever it is, in effect remains a starter: a tandem starter held in reserve. The back-up.

Fister, for example, might not make a start. But if he bails out Rodriguez and goes longer than Rodriguez on the day E-Rod started, what’s the difference?

Wednesday’s 10-7 win over the Blue Jays only hammered home how much the Sox need an insurance plan. Porcello was again bit by poor location and home runs. The 38 he allowed this year ties him for the Red Sox single-season record.

The Sox offense bailed out Porcello and Farrell this time let Porcello stick around, but the hook should come quick in the postseason. 

All of Fister, Rodriguez and Porcello are implosion risks. Rodriguez has the highest upside of the bunch, at least when it comes to swing-and-miss stuff. Porcello has become so homer happy that starting him in a presumed match-up with the Astros, who have an excellent offense, is a frightening proposition. Fister’s been inconsistent, but he does keep the ball on the ground at a 50.2 percent clip. 

Say the choice comes down to Fister or Porcello for a start. Fister’s prior experience in the bullpen could be a deciding factor here, that and the sense that a contact pitcher like him is more vulnerable to having something go wrong.

David Price is indeed a starter in the bullpen. Why do you need another, you ask? Price is not there to bail out a starter. He could do so, sure, but he’s best used as a late-inning, high-leverage bridge. 

Even Drew Pomeranz all of a sudden feels like less of a certainty because his velocity has dropped. If he’s throwing 89-90 mph and getting hit hard in his start, there has to be someone the Sox can turn to. 

The Sox carried all five starters on last year’s playoff roster. More than in 2016, the game plan this year for the Sox is built around pitching, not hobbled hitters. 

Dustin Pedroia returned to the lineup Wednesday and Mookie Betts said he feels like he can on Thursday. Xander Bogaerts and Hanley Ramirez may be perking up at just the right time. But the formula is unchanged.

The roulette game with Rodriguez, Fister and Porcello will get a lot of hype. Whoever the “loser" is could actually wind up more important than the other two, riding in from the bullpen to save the day.

He has to be on the roster first to jump on his white horse.

Astros beat Yankees in Game 7 to advance to World Series, 4-0

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Astros beat Yankees in Game 7 to advance to World Series, 4-0

HOUSTON - Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers combined on a three-hitter, Jose Altuve and Evan Gattis homered and the Houston Astros reached the World Series, blanking the New York Yankees 4-0 Saturday night in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

Just four years removed from their third straight 100-loss season in 2013, the Astros shut down the Yankees for two straight games after dropping three in a row in the Bronx.

Next up for the Astros: Game 1 of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. Houston aces Dallas Keuchel and ALCS MVP Justin Verlander will have plenty of rest, too, before the matchup begins at Dodger Stadium.

Houston has never won even a single World Series game. The only previous time the Astros made it this far, they were a National League team when they were swept by the Chicago White Sox in 2005.

Now, manager A.J. Hinch's club has a chance to win that elusive first title, while trying to boost a region still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

Houston improved to 6-0 at Minute Maid Park in these playoffs and became the fifth team in major league history to win a seven-game postseason series by winning all four of its home games.

Morton bounced back from a loss in Game 3 to allow two hits over five scoreless innings. Starter-turned-postseason reliever McCullers limited the Yankees to just one hit while fanning six over the next four.

Combined, they throttled the Yankees one last time in Houston. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and their New York teammates totaled just three runs in the four road games.

CC Sabathia entered the game 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts this season after a Yankees loss. But he struggled with command and was gone with one out in the fourth inning.

Houston was up 2-0 in fifth when former Yankees star Brian McCann came through for the second straight game by hitting a two-run double after snapping an 0-for-20 skid with an ground-rule RBI double to give Houston its first run on Friday night.

The Yankees, trying to reach the World Series for the first time since 2009, lost an elimination game for the first time this season after winning their first four in these playoffs. New York struggled on the road this postseason, with this loss dropping the team to 1-6.

Red Sox reportedly make offer to Cora

Red Sox reportedly make offer to Cora

UPDATE: The deal is for three years, per Ken Rosenthal.

BOSTON — We’re just waiting on an announcement now.

A pair of national reports on Saturday afternoon, one from FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal... 

...And another from MLB Network and FanRagSports.com's Jon Heyman...

have firmed up Alex Cora’s expected hiring as Red Sox manager. Both reported that Cora, the Astros bench coach, is expected to take the job once Houston's season ends, which could come as soon as Saturday night after Game 7 of the American League Championship Series. 

Heyman reported a contract offer has already been made to Cora. 

A baseball source said this week that there was “not a doubt” Cora, the Astros bench coach, would wind up with the Red Sox gig. It’s unclear when exactly the offer was made to him, but one had not been made as of midday Wednesday, the source said. 

Cora, 41, a former Red Sox infielder (2005-08) who's also worked in the media and is the most sought-after managerial candidate at the moment, appeared the front-runner since the outset of what proved a small search for the Red Sox.

Earlier, Boston Globe reported that the Washington Nationals were interested in Cora after they fired Dusty Baker on Friday.