The Boston Red Sox have made a roster change after only one postseason game, adding outfielder Chris Young prior to Game 2.
The Boston Red Sox have added outfielder Chris Young to their postseason roster prior to Game 2 of the American League Division Series against the Houston Astros. He’ll replace Eduardo Nunez, who re-aggravated a knee injury during his first plate appearance in Game 1 on Thursday.
Nunez finished the regular season on the disabled list with a sprained knee that cost him 18 of the last 19 games. He admitted to rushing back from the injury initially, making it through only two plate appearances in his return on September 25 before crumbling in pain following an awkward swing that tweaked his knee. The setback sidelined him through the rest of the regular season schedule.
Despite feeling confident that he could handle designated hitter duties when the playoffs began, his return was even briefer than his last failed attempt to return to the lineup. His removal from the ALDS roster means he will miss the rest of this series and will be ineligible for the ALCS if the Red Sox advance to the next round.
Hanley Ramirez replaced Nunez in the lineup in Game 1, collecting a pair of hits. He’s the first Red Sox hitter in over a century to record 2+ hits off the bench in a postseason game. Ramirez will be in the starting lineup at first base for Game 2 against lefty Dallas Keuchel.
Young slides into the DH spot, batting sixth in a game that feels like a must-win for the Red Sox. A year ago it would have seemed unfathomable to keep the lefty-masher out of the lineup with a southpaw on the hill, yet Young was mysteriously ineffective against left-handed pitching this year. He hit a measly .200 with a .590 OPS against lefties. His inability to thrive in the role he was brought to Boston to fill was the reason for keeping him off the initial postseason roster but the injury to Nunez has forced their hand.
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On the positive side, Young is 7-for-23 (.304) with a .812 OPS and three extra-base hits in his career against Keuchel. He also owns a .380/.417/ .727 career slash line at Minute Maid Park. This season has been a struggle for the 34-year old outfielder but the larger sample size over the course of his career leads us to believe he’s in a good spot in this matchup.
Young hasn’t given the Red Sox much reason have confidence in him this season but at least he has a solid postseason track record. He owns a .304 average and 1.122 OPS in 14 career postseason games. Granted, his last postseason hit came back in 2011 but at least we have evidence showing that Young won’t wilt under the bright lights of the postseason.
Boston is desperate for a win to avoid falling into a 0-2 hole in this best-of-five series. The downgrade from Nunez to Young wouldn’t seem to help their chances. Neither would manager John Farrell‘s baffling decision to sit Rafael Devers, who hit .400 with a 1.074 OPS against lefties this year.
The best chance the Red Sox have in Game 2 is for Drew Pomeranz to succeed where Chris Sale could not. Boston’s ace was shelled in his first taste of the postseason and now it’s Pomeranz’ turn take the mound for his first career postseason start. He’s 2-2 with a 3.69 ERA in his career against the Astros and tossed six innings of one-run ball against them last week at Fenway.
If he can deliver a similar performance on the road, Boston’s depleted lineup may not doom them after all.