Red Sox: Who sits when Dustin Pedroia returns to the lineup?

BOSTON, MA - JULY 20: Dustin Pedroia
BOSTON, MA - JULY 20: Dustin Pedroia /

The Boston Red Sox have some lineup decisions to make with Dustin Pedroia on the verge of returning from the disabled list.

Dustin Pedroia is expected to return to the Boston Red Sox during their weekend series in the Bronx. Now the only question is where he fits in the lineup.

We can expect that the four-time Gold Glove winner will reclaim his position at second base. The Red Sox may ease him back into action by giving him a few off days over the final month of the regular season. He could even see some time as the designated hitter to give him a half day of rest. More often than not though, Pedroia will be the starting second baseman down the stretch.

Fine, so now that we’ve settled that, what happens to Eduardo Nunez? He’s been filling in at second base during Pedroia’s absence, during which time he’s been a force in the lineup. Nunez is batting .320 with a .918 OPS and seven home runs in 29 games since he was acquired from the San Francisco Giants. Clearly, the Red Sox can’t afford to take his bat out of the lineup very often.

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The versatile infielder was originally acquired to solve the third base riddle that plagued the team for the majority of the season. Except his arrival coincided with the debut of Rafael Devers, the prized prospect who has been tearing up big league pitching since his call up to the majors. The 20-year old could see some days off to avoid hitting a rookie wall, allowing Nunez to occasionally fill in at third, but Devers should see the bulk of the playing time at the hot corner.

Nunez is also a capable shortstop, so reinforcements to the infield would allow Xander Bogaerts to get some additional rest. He wore down late last season under a heavy workload and has been suffering from a second half slump again this year. Bogaerts is hitting only .211 with a .602 OPS since the break. Despite those struggles, he’s been in the lineup for all but one game in August. Xander could use a break to clear his head before the postseason rolls around.

While his recent drop to seventh in the batting order may have helped spark the dormant bat of Hanley Ramirez, the larger body of work this season has been a disappointment. If Hanley’s hot streak fades, his name will disappear from the lineup card just as quickly.

Mitch Moreland has already been sitting against most lefties. Chris Young has been the primary beneficiary of his absence, but the lefty-masher the Red Sox signed for this very role has hit a pitiful .190 against southpaws this season. When the Red Sox roster is back at full strength, Young’s playing time should drastically fall off.

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Manager John Farrell will have some difficult decisions to make with his lineup card, but it’s a good problem to have. By reducing the playing time of some struggling players, taking advantage of the versatility of Nunez and rotating the DH slot, the Red Sox will find ample at-bats for their infielders while also ensuring they each get a little extra rest down the stretch.