Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
The Red Sox are only 15 games into the regular season and hold a 6-9 record after squeaking by the White Sox last night in 14 innings despite managing only six hits. If you were tuned in for the beginning of the game, you may have let out a, “well this is new,” as the starting lineup was read. It’s been the case all year for the Sox, leading one to believe that there’s a correlation between the inconsistency of the names on the lineup card and the inconsistency swinging the bats.
Because of injuries, John Farrell has used 14 different batting orders in 15 games. It should be pointed out that none of these 14 have been the lineup that he envisioned coming into the season, due to the absence of Shane Victorino.
Injuries have been the main contributor to the lineup shuffle. Will Middlebrooks has played in only four games due to a calf strain, Dustin Pedroia missed two games with a wrist injury and Mike Napoli is day-to-day with a dislocated finger that thankfully wasn’t a break. Then there’s Grady Sizemore who technically isn’t hurt but has yet to start more than three consecutive games as the Red Sox continue to take caution with the oft-injured outfielder (although he’s looked pretty sturdy so far — knock-on-wood).
The play of the Daniel Nava/Jonny Gomes platoon has also forced Farrell’s hand. In 12 games, they’re hitting a combined 14-84 (.167 BA). Nava’s hitting a feeble .137 and has the lowest OBP among regulars at .241. Although it’s a small sample size, the experiment with him in the leadoff spot has so far yielded nothing but poor results (.150 BA, .261 OBP in five games). Gomes hasn’t been much better. He’s hitting .212 and has struck out 15 times in 33 AB’s. This includes four games in the leadoff spot where he actually hit .286, but struck out in seven of 14 AB’s. In total, the Sox have had five different players bat leadoff and they are hitting a combined .206 with a .315 OBP. No wonder they scored a run in the first inning last night for the first time all season.
Putting runs on the board was not supposed to be a worry for this team. Just a reminder of what a fully healthy lineup looks like:
- Victorino RF
- Pedroia 2B
- Ortiz DH
- Napoli 1B
- Sizemore CF
- Bogaerts SS
- Nava/Gomes LF
- Pierzynski C
- Middlebrooks 3B
Feel free to change the order to your liking, but that’s a solid lineup no matter how you cut it. The question is when will we see it?