A glance at the upcoming schedule for the Boston Red Sox shows a couple of lefties on the slate, which means we can expect to see more from Chris Young.
The Boston Red Sox have yet to face a left-handed starter this season, but that’s about to change.
The weekend series against the Toronto Blue Jays wraps up on Marathon Monday, with the Jays sending lefty J.A. Happ to the hill. The next day the Red Sox will welcome the Tampa Bay Rays to town, with Drew Smyly getting the start.
Facing off against a pair of lefties means that we can expect to see left fielder Chris Young in the lineup for a rare start. The 32-year old had started only one game this season entering Sunday, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts against a right-handed starter. He has also appeared as a pinch-hitter against lefty relievers on several occasions, collecting one hit that went for a double in four chances.
The Red Sox acquired Young for his ability to mash against lefties, following a season where he hit .327 with a .972 OPS against them. As impressive as Young has been against lefties, his numbers against right-handed pitchers are at the other end of the spectrum. Last year Young hit an anemic .182 with a .585 OPS in 165 at-bats against righties. Young is a classic platoon player that should be used exclusively against lefties.
Despite that, Young finds his name in the lineup on Sunday against a right-handed starter. Manager John Farrell explained that with a couple of lefties coming up on the schedule he wanted to get Young some at-bats to get him going. Essentially the team is punting on getting production out of that spot in the order this afternoon so that they can get Young warmed up for when he’s needed against those upcoming lefty starters.
With Young taking over in left field for the day, Brock Holt will get a day off to rest. Boston will also give Dustin Pedroia a day off, with the recently called up Marco Hernandez taking his spot at second base.
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With Farrell intent on getting Young in the lineup any time the opponent sends a left to the mound, he’ll have to get creative to fit him in. Holt is already out of the lineup today, so even if Young is in left field for the next three days it’s unlikely that Holt will miss all of them.
We have seen so far this season that Travis Shaw is the preferred option to be pinch-hit for to get Young in the game against a lefty reliever. While Shaw has hit lefties just fine in his career, we can expect Farrell to stick with this pattern by giving Shaw at least one day off with a pair of lefties coming up. With Young in left, Holt would move to third base, which is what the team has done any time Shaw has been pinch-hit for.
One of these upcoming games against a lefty would also be an opportune time to get David Ortiz a rest. The 40-year old has been smashing the ball as well as he did a decade ago, but at his age he should be given the occasional day off. He has struggled in the past against lefties, hitting a mere .231 against them in 2015, despite having a fantastic year overall. If Ortiz is out of the lineup then Shaw could DH, with Holt taking over at third and Young in left. Or Hanley Ramirez could DH, with Shaw sliding across the diamond to take over at first.
Next week will give us our first chance to see how Farrell will manage his lineup against a lefty. With the Red Sox facing two lefties in a row and the team not wanting to rest their regulars for too many consecutive days, Farrell will have to mix and match a bit with a variety of different lineups.