As far as Alex Cora is concerned, the postseason is upon us.
Heading into Tuesday night's game in Seattle, the Red Sox were clinging to one of the two Wild Card spots with 16 regular season games to go. There are also four off-days in the mix. In the Red Sox' manager's eyes, the combination of all of it means the need to think a little differently.
Specifically, start expecting the likes of Nick Pivetta and Tanner Houck to start making appearances out of the bullpen. (But, no, not Chris Sale, who is expected to return to the rotation Friday or Saturday.)
"We’re going over the rotation," Cora said. "Actually, we talked a little bit today, just mapping out who faces who, how many outings. It’s one of those you got to be smart about it, right? You want certain guys to face certain teams, or you want certain guys to pitch as many games as possible. I think we’re leaning toward that one. You want certain guys to go as often as possible. We’ll make decisions when we have to. As of now, everything is in line. We’ll see when Chris can pitch. If it is Friday, if it is Saturday, then we’ll go from there. With how many days we have, we have two (off days) next week and then one more, that’s three, so we’ve got a chance to do that, be smart about it and maximize the whole roster."
He added, "Let’s wait and see til we know more about the weekend and see how we can line it up. But yeah, there’s going to be starters that are going to the bullpen, and they’re going to be very important to what we’re trying to accomplish.”
While Cora didn't have to go this route throughout September in either 2018 or 2019, he did point out that the strategy shouldn't be an unfamiliar one.
Who can forget the likes of Rick Porcello, Nathan Eovaldi and Chris Sale filling in the team's relief-pitching gaps throughout the 2018 postseason.
“I did in October in ’18. It’s the same feeling on a daily basis," the manager noted. "You’re trying to maximize your roster. You make moves that you feel like it puts this team in a position to be successful. I think obviously, there’s certain times that it works, others it hasn’t worked. But it’s the same feeling. Obviously with a packed house and 8,000 TV members around here. It’s the same way. You gotta be ready, obviously. You still got two weeks. It’s not like you’re all in, all in for one day. But you’re trying to obviously win every game possible. At the same time, you take certain chances in certain situations when we feel that we can accomplish that.”