Red Sox Postseason: Five biggest questions heading into ALDS vs Yankees

BOSTON, MA - MAY 18: Drew Pomeranz #31 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the Baltimore Orioles during the fourth inning at Fenway Park on May 18, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 18: Drew Pomeranz #31 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the Baltimore Orioles during the fourth inning at Fenway Park on May 18, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
4 of 6
Next
BOSTON, MA – AUGUST 2: Steve Pearce #25 of the Boston Red Sox reacts as he rounds first base after hitting a three-run home run in the fourth inning of a game against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park on August 2, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA – AUGUST 2: Steve Pearce #25 of the Boston Red Sox reacts as he rounds first base after hitting a three-run home run in the fourth inning of a game against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park on August 2, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

What role will Steve Pearce play?

We know that Steve Pearce can do some serious damage against the Yankees. Who could forget his three-homer game against them back in August?

The Red Sox acquired Pearce to mash left-handed pitching. He hit .304/.400/.559 against lefties this year, providing a significant upgrade at the plate over Mitch Moreland (.242/.305/.379 vs LHP).

This could make Pearce a valuable x-factor against a Yankees team that will use a pair of lefties in their rotation. Pearce is 11-for-32 (.344) with six home runs and 16 RBI in his career against J.A. Happ. He’s never faced C.C. Sabathia but we can assume Pearce will be in the lineup against him anyway considering how tough the veteran pitcher has been on left-handed hitters (.180 average, .629 OPS).

The Yankees bullpen is stacked with left-handers that could chase Moreland from games he does start. Aroldis Chapman, Zach Britton, and Chad Green are all arms we’ll see out of the Yankees bullpen, providing Pearce with potential pinch-hit opportunities in any game he doesn’t start.

Boston’s lineup collectively hit .250/.325/.395 against lefties compared to .275/.344/.473 against right-handed pitching. With the number of southpaws the Yankees can send at them from the rotation and the bullpen, we’re going to see plenty of Pearce in this series.

While the Red Sox will need Pearce’s bat against lefties, he’s not nearly the defensive player that Moreland is. Pearce could get pulled in favor of the former Gold Glove winner once the left-handed starter is out of the game, especially if the Red Sox have a lead to protect. Choosing when to send in the defensive replacement won’t be easy with all those lefties looming in the bullpen. This strategic chess match can alter a series if manager Alex Cora chooses wisely.