Red Sox should give Blake Swihart some catching duties

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - APRIL 1: Blake Swihart
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - APRIL 1: Blake Swihart /

The Boston Red Sox have the opportunity to have Blake Swihart play a few games at catcher. Time to see if a few games can ignite his bat and increase his value.

Do you mess with success?  The Boston Red Sox pitching staff is ranked first in the American League, according to FanGraphs. The staters are just behind the Houston Astros and the catching duo of Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon most certainly have a big input into that pitching puzzle.

Then there is Blake Swihart. Swihart is now a role player and that usually means gobbling up an inning or two in baseball garbage time. Certainly not as a defensive specialist since Swihart has limited experience in the outfield and first base.  At one point in his Red Sox past, Swihart was viewed as the backstop of the future. Maybe Swihart needs some starts at catcher?

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The opportunity is present to give Swihart a few starts over the next six game set against Toronto and Tampa Bay. Swihart has done little with the bat this season as the switch-hitter is just hitting .176. But Leon is hitting a paltry .115 and looking every bit the hitter he has always been.

What do you give up on defense? Leon has started six games and the Red Sox are 5-1 in those contests. Leon’s catcher ERA is 2.13 and as far as caught stealing the Red Sox combo is pitching a shutout going 0-for-9 against base stealers. In the exotic and highly debatable pitch framing, Leon is 23rd among all catchers.

Leon is a known commodity and is a backup catcher noted for excellent defensive skills and a less than prodigious hitting ability.  Leon will occasionally give some respectable power, as in 2017 when he hit seven home runs and drove in 39 RBI in 85 games. But Leon hit just .225.

Manager Alex Cora has not been reluctant about judicious use of playing time. Players have sat, such as J.D. Martinez after getting seven hits in two games.  Cora is not a “personal catcher” guy, either. So, just maybe, the opportunity has surfaced for Swihart to grab a few starts?

A few games could also be viewed as a “showcase” for Swihart to increase potential trade value. This past off-season teams certainly approached the Red Sox realizing a roster crunch may make Swihart available. A few games to reestablish his catching credentials could only increase that value.

If Swihart responds with some respectable offense the Red Sox could also be in a position where their backup becomes the flip version with a good hit and average defensive catcher.  Either way, the Red Sox need a decision on Swihart with Dustin Pedroia‘s return on the horizon and potential roster issues.

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I like giving players an opportunity and Swihart needs his. If not Swihart will continue to collect baseball rust and erode even further a once promising career. The kid needs to play in Boston or elsewhere. Use it or lose it.