The Boston Red Sox have three catchers heading into the ALCS, meaning someone probably won’t see the field much. There’s pretty obvious answer though.
For most of the season, Blake Swihart was the odd-man out when it came to the Boston Red Sox catching trio. Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon were given nearly all of the playing time as Swihart looked ready for a DFA.
An injury to Vazquez thrust Swihart into the mix though, and his bat came to life with it. What he also showcased was a much stronger arm than memory served from his first stint in the Majors. His strong play forced the Red Sox to get him into the lineup more often, moving him around the diamond on days he wasn’t behind the plate.
Then Vazquez returned and Swihart once again started to see less time at catcher. Although his play helped keep him in the mix, it appeared his role had been diminished.
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Flash-forward to the ALDS and Swihart was back to being the 25th man. He only had one at-bat and appeared in right field for two innings in the four-game series against the New York Yankees. Those both came in the 16-1 rout that was Game 3. Basically, Swihart was given mop-up duty.
This can’t happen in the ALCS though. If Boston wants to bury a catcher for a series – make it Leon.
Now, I have no problems with Leon – he’s clearly a great defensive catcher. That being said, he brought nothing to the table in the ALDS. Following a regular season that saw him slash .177/.232/.279, Leon went 0-for-5 in two starts in the ALDS. While he was catching, Red Sox pitchers also allowed 10 earned runs in 16 innings (5.63 ERA).
In comparison, Boston pitching allowed just four earned runs in 20 innings (1.80 ERA) caught by Vazquez. At the same time, Vazquez went 3-for-9 with a home run in the series.
All season long, the weak point of the Boston lineup has been identified as their catchers. When Swihart was getting regular at-bats, that talk died down pretty significantly. There was also a time during the season when Vazquez was hot at the plate. He’s brought that into the playoffs with him.
I don’t think anyone needs to be reminded just how good Vazquez was in 2017 (.290/.330/.404). If that’s the version the Red Sox are getting in the playoffs – he needs to play.
Leon, on the other hand, has been a consistent hole in the lineup, and that’s clearly the case so far in the postseason as well. There are no signs he’s reverting back to 2016 or even 2017 Leon.
The Red Sox will be going up against the dangerous Houston Astros in the ALCS. With that in mind, they’ll obviously want to put out their best lineups on a nightly basis. At this point in time, that means less Sandy Leon – and more Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez.