Red Sox: Hanley Ramirez not expected to start in St. Louis Cardinals series
By Sean Penney
Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell indicated that Hanley Ramirez is likely to start both games in St. Louis on the bench.
The Boston Red Sox head to St. Louis to take on the Cardinals in a short two-game series, which means they’ll once again be without the benefit of the designated hitter spot in the lineup.
Which means we shouldn’t expect to see much of Hanley Ramirez in either game.
In an appearance on MLB Network Radio, John Farrell indicated that Mitch Moreland would be starting at first base in St. Louis. The Red Sox manager added that the team is best suited keeping Ramirez in the DH role, at least for the time being.
Boston’s only other trip to an NL ballpark this season was a three-game series in Milwaukee earlier this month. Ramirez started one of those games at first base, only to exit in the bottom of the fourth inning with a right trap muscle spasm. The injury would end up costing him three games, including two back at Fenway, indicating it was serious enough to hold him out of the lineup even with the DH available.
Ramirez also experienced shoulder soreness back in spring training that prevented him from playing first base. Given that it’s a short series in St. Louis, it makes sense to hold him out of the lineup to avoid further injury risk.
The Red Sox lineup shouldn’t suffer much of a drop off with Moreland starting in place of Ramirez, as they’ve put up remarkably similar numbers this season.
Ramirez: .257/.341/.422, 5 home runs, 16 RBI
Moreland: .254/.362/.415, 2 home runs, 16 RBI
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Ramirez has only a slight advantage in batting average, which is negated by Moreland’s higher OBP. While Hanley provides more home run power, Mitchy Two-Bags leads the league with 15 doubles and has a higher OPS.
Moreland, who won a Gold Glove at first base last season, is the vastly superior defensive player. It’s not worth sacrificing his value on the field when both players have produced fairly evenly at the plate. If the Red Sox can only play one of these guys in an NL ballpark then Moreland should be in the lineup.
About the only downside to benching Ramirez is that he has a better track record against the starting pitchers that the Red Sox will face in this series. He’s 2-for-7 (.286) with a double and a walk against Lance Lynn and 4-for-9 (.444) with a home run against Mike Leake. Moreland has also taken Leake deep, but is only 2-for-8 in his career against him and he’s never faced Lynn.
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Despite starting the game on the bench, Ramirez should still be available to pinch-hit in this series. With pitchers expected to step to the plate under NL rules, replacing them with Ramirez if their turn in the order comes up late in the game seems to be a likely scenario.