Smith contender to land 'pen role in playoffs

Smith contender to land 'pen role in playoffs

BALTIMORE -- The plan was to ease Carson Smith back in his return from Tommy John surgery, and the Red Sox have done that.

But that doesn't preclude Smith from being a legitimate contender to land one of the final bullpen spots on a potential postseason roster.

The Red Sox hold a three-game lead in the American League East with 11 games remaining. Smith earned his first save of the season in Monday's wild 10-8 victory in 11 innings over the Orioles and, after pitching two-thirds of an inning in Tuesday's 1-0, 11-inning win, Smith has made five appearances since Sept. 5, and he hasn't allowed a run over 4 1/3 innings.

"I think it's very possible," Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Smith being part of the postseason plans. "The more outings like he had last night -- that was a very powerful inning. That was a very good inning -- particularly against a very productive right-handed-hitting lineup that handles right-handed pitching well. That late action putting the ball on the ground is pivotal."

In a postseason series, Smith would serve a valuable role as a righty specialist.

Assuming the Red Sox go with four starting pitchers in the postseason, they would likely go with seven relievers. Craig Kimbrel, Addison Reed, Joe Kelly, and David Price are locks. That would leave three spots open among a pool of righties Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree, Smith, Austin Maddox and Blaine Boyer, along with lefties Fernando Abad and Robby Scott.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.