Red Sox vs Dodgers: Five key factors to watch in this World Series
Sandy Leon emerged as the primary catcher for the Red Sox this season based on his stellar defense and game-calling abilities. His anemic bat has been a problem though. Normally, an offense as powerful as Boston’s can handle having an automatic out at the bottom of the order but that may not be the case in this series. We’ve already discussed Boston’s struggles against lefties, which are only compounded by having Leon in the lineup. What about when the series shifts to Los Angeles and they lose the DH? Can the Red Sox afford to have Leon and the pitcher batting back-to-back?
Christian Vazquez isn’t exactly lighting it up but his .227 average this postseason makes him more of a threat than Leon, who is hitless in seven at-bats. Vazquez also has a bit more pop with a double and a homer this postseason. He’s a very good defensive catcher in his own right and should earn the nod to start the majority of games in this series.
Leon will get the start in Game 1 due to his rapport with Chris Sale but it should be Vazquez catching anyone else.
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Can we please have a Blake Swihart sighting in this series? The Red Sox have insisted on carrying three catchers yet have only given Swihart one plate appearance. There’s no excuse for not getting him into at least one of the games in LA to pinch-hit for the pitcher.
The Dodgers have the opposite problem. Yasmani Grandal is one of the game’s best hitters at the position but his defense has been a problem this postseason. He was benched following a disastrous Game 3 in the NLCS in which he allowed three passed balls and was relegated to pinch-hitting duties for the rest of the series.
Austin Barnes is hitting .111 in the playoffs and barely cracked the Mendoza Line during the regular season. The Dodgers may be forced to use him in the World Series if they can’t stomach the risk of losing a game due to Grandal failing to keep the ball in front of him with runners on base.