The Boston Red Sox have one of the best offenses in baseball. The new MLB rule changes will only help that offense produce in the future.
As reported by Jeff Passan of ESPN on Thursday, the MLB is looking to shake things up as far as the game is concerned. Major League Baseball has been trying everything they can think of in order to retain the casual sports fan that may not stay focused on the marathon games. The Red Sox like most other teams in the league will be looking to use these rule tweaks to their benefit in the future.
Some are more for the spectacle such as an All-Star Game Election Day as well as a big money bonus for the winner of the Home Run Derby. Another new rule going into place for the 2019 season is the single trade deadline of July 31. One of the new rules that won’t take effect until 2020 is the 3-batter minimum for a pitcher in a game. This is the new addition that will be the most advantageous for the Red Sox.
As we all saw in 2018, the Red Sox lineup is one of the hardest to pitch against in all of baseball. Whether it’s the patience at the plate to draw walks, the inability of pitchers to eliminate batters once they get to that second strike, or just the power in the order. The Boston bats were some of the most productive in the MLB. With that same order coming back in 2019 I look to see similar production from the Beantown bats.
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Of all the new rule changes coming to baseball in the near future the biggest one to help the Red Sox will be the 3-batter minimum for pitchers. As we’ve seen throughout our baseball fandom managers will often bring in a pitcher for a single batter then pull them instantly. I’ve always appreciated this as chess-like tactics by the skipper. But that’s all gonna change when the calendar flips to 2020.
I do understand that not everyone appreciates the small moves of swapping out pitchers to face specific batters and how it can be frustrating to a casual fan. But back to the task at hand, how will this new rule help the Red Sox? Simple, if a new pitcher is brought in for a specific situation and it doesn’t go to plan, there isn’t a “break glass in case of emergency” backup. They now have to face the next two batters in the order. That’s where the Red Sox will strike and strike often.
Just think about it, it’s late in the game and the opposing manager brings in an arm that has a great track record against J.D. Martinez. J.D. gets a hit and now that pitcher has to stare down the barrel of the gun that is possibly Xander Bogaerts and Steve Pearce. Two guys that not only love to hit but hit with runners on base. All of a sudden that great gameplan is an ulcer-inducing nightmare for any manager.
This lineup is one of the toughest outs in baseball. They did most of their damage with two strikes, just let that sink in. That should instantly be swinging momentum to the pitcher, but not against Boston. And don’t forget that this team doesn’t live or die with one single bat in particular. If Martinez is off then Bogey can step up. If Mookie Betts is having an off-night we could see Pearce crush the plate. It truly is a full squad of everyone that is there for the single cause of winning and stepping up when necessary.
The counter to this argument is that this very scenario could backfire against the Red Sox. But in all honesty, I don’t think it would very often. Alex Cora showed in 2018 that he is a manager that is great with strategy but he is also a bit of a creature of habit. More often than not he would stick with the same guys for the same portion of the game as opposed to bringing in a specific pitcher for a specific batter.
Granted going into 2019 the weapons that Cora has to choose from are lacking after the departure of Joe Kelly and expected departure of Craig Kimbrel. But that doesn’t mean he has to change his methodology with how he runs his bullpen. He will most likely continue to use certain pitchers for specific innings. I imagine that Bobby Poyner or Heath Hembree will carry that 7th inning, Ryan Brasier as the setup man, and Matt Barnes as the closer. Wash, rinse, repeat. So I don’t see this new rule working against the Red Sox very often once it’s put into motion.
The new rules have been created to try and be a win-win for the fans and the league. Only time will tell if they truly are as beneficial as the league office believes. The Red Sox are sure to be one of the teams with the best chances to take the new rules and make them advantageous. We won’t know until the season kicks off but I can already picture Cora in his office preparing his chessboard.