Red Sox: John Farrell needs a new lineup vs. lefty starting pitchers

SEATTLE, WA - JULY 24: Chris Young
SEATTLE, WA - JULY 24: Chris Young /

The Boston Red Sox were supposed to be a strong force against left-handed starting pitchers. However, they’ve recently struggled and may need a change.

On Sunday, the Red Sox went 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position and left 13 men on base. This included leaving the bases loaded in back-to-back innings (5th and 6th). Red Sox number 5 hitter, Chris Young, went 0-for-3 with a strikeout and left a team-high seven stranded runners on base.

Boston lost 2-1 at home to the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday and that resulted in a four-game losing streak. Because of their recent struggles, their lead in the American League East division dropped to 2 1/2 games over the New York Yankees.

Red Sox manager John Farrell needs to rethink his lineup, particularly against left-handed starting pitchers. Young historically crushes lefty pitches but has struggled all year against southpaws. And in total, the Red Sox are 14-5 when they face a left-handed starting pitcher.

Young, who bats right-handed, has batted .198/.309/.284 against lefties this year and has recorded only one home run, two doubles, one triple, and four RBIs. He has batted much better against right-handed pitchers this season which is in contrast from his career splits.

Young has been started as the No. 5 hitter five times against left-handed starters this month by Farrell. He started against the Yankees’ Jordon Montgomery twice, Yankees’ Jaime Garcia once, Yankees’ CC Sabathia once, and once against Orioles’ Wade Miley. In those five games, Young batted for a combined 0-for-12 with four strikeouts and three walks.

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"“At this point, I haven’t thought much about how we’re gonna adjust things,” Farrell said. “We’re in the final 30-plus games. We’ve got a tough row to hoe ahead of us. And you look at all means to put together a combination that’s going to be successful.”“We know that Chris has had some different issues this year vs. left-handers. Sometimes it’s the outliner where splits become reversed as they are this year for him. More than anything, we’ve got to go out and continue to stick together as we do and we’ll get through this tough patch. It’s a pitch at a time to turn this ship around, to turn it around.”"

Sticking with Young may still be the right move for the Red Sox. However, if he is to be in the lineup, moving him down to be the number 7 or 8 hitter, like they have done with Rafael Devers and even Hanley Ramirez, is the smartest choice. This would allow Young to hit with less stress and less opportunities to leave a ton of runners on base like he did on Sunday.

Or the Red Sox could go with another option: Bryce Brentz. Brentz is a right-handed outfielder who mashes lefties currently for the Triple-A Pawtucket team. He is likely to be one of the September call-ups and added to the 40-man roster.

Hanley Ramirez is another right-handed hitter usually counter on to crush lefties but is in a slump. He’s the normal clean-up man for Boston but has batted a mere .210/301/384 since the All-Star break. Ramirez also entered last night’s game against the Blue Jays hitting .193/.313/.316 with runners in scoring position. Farrell moved him to the 7th spot in the batting order.

“They’ve made some pitches,” Farrell said, discussing Ramirez’s struggles with runners in scoring position. “They’ve elevated in close to him where they feel like there may be a hole to get to. But again, I don’t know if we can pinpoint or put all this on Hanley.”

Next: Red Sox Strut: Moreland & Fister

Ramirez is at risk of losing playing time as the season nears an end. Dustin Pedroia seems to be progressing towards a return and with Eduardo Nunez playing so well, the Red Sox have to find space for Pedroia. He could slot in at DH while Nunez continues to play second or they could share time at each position. Furthermore, Pedroia will hopefully be one answer to Boston’s RISP issues and their issues facing left-handed pitching.