Xander Bogaerts is starting to show signs of fatigue, yet he’s back in the lineup for the Boston Red Sox on Monday.
Xander Bogaerts could use a break.
The 23-year old shortstop has hit a bit of a slump, or at least what constitutes a slump for an advanced hitting-machine like Bogaerts. He was a mere 2-for-12 at the plate during the weekend series in Texas, dropping his batting average from .351 to .344 in only three days. That may not seem like a steep fall, but it was enough to drop him behind Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (.347) for the league lead.
The signs of fatigue have been even more noticeable in the field, where Bogaerts has been uncharacteristically sloppy of late. He has committed throwing errors in three of the last four games, giving him five errors in June after entering the month with only two all season.
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It’s no wonder Bogaerts is starting to wear down. He has played in 74 of the first 75 games for the Red Sox this season and hasn’t taken a game off since April 23. Even young guys like Bogaerts need a breather once in a while in order to last through a grueling 162 game season. Otherwise they begin to wear down, both physically and mentally, leading to decreased production and an uptick in mistakes.
Manager John Farrell has acknowledged that Bogaerts has been battling fatigue, yet he is sticking him back in the lineup again on Monday. Instead, it will be Travis Shaw getting the day off against Tampa Bay Rays lefty Blake Snell.
Sitting Shaw against lefties has become customary, as his batting average against them has dropped to .188 this season. Even if he isn’t always starting, Shaw has still appeared in all 75 games, so he was also long overdue for some rest.
Here’s what the Red Sox lineup will look like tonight when they open a series in Tampa Bay.
Given that the Red Sox have been hit with a rash of injuries to their position players, their bench doesn’t have the depth to afford sitting two infielders in the same game. Marco Hernandez will start tonight’s game at third base in place of Shaw, leaving shortstop Mike Miller as the only other infielder on the bench. The 26-year old Miller was just called up from Pawtucket today and has never appeared in a major league game, so we can probably assume he’s here for emergency depth.
Which means that Bogaerts will have to wait until at least Tuesday before getting a day off. With Thursday being a scheduled off day for the Red Sox, it may actually make more sense to sit him on Wednesday instead, giving him consecutive days off.
Bogaerts is ascending into superstar status this season, with a legitimate claim to being in the MVP discussion as we approach the mid-point of the season. He has certainly looked like one of the best players in the game for most of the season, but until he gets some rest he may not continue to look that way.