The Boston Red Sox return from the break to face the Los Angeles Dodgers. Here’s the lineup they will send out for this World Series rematch.
The unofficial start of the second half begins with the Boston Red Sox hosting the Los Angeles Dodgers for the first time since these teams met in the World Series last October.
The All-Star break afforded the Red Sox the luxury of lining up their rotation for this series, which they’ve done by stacking the three-game set with a trio of left-handed starters. The Dodgers bring one of baseball’s most lethal lineups with them to Fenway Park but their .331 wOBA against lefties isn’t nearly as strong as their National League-leading .342 wOBA against right-handed pitching.
The last memory the Dodgers have of this Red Sox pitching staff was Price holding them to one run over seven innings to earn the win in the decisive Game 5 of the World Series. Sale slammed the door on that victory by getting Manny Machado to chase a slider for the final out that clinched the championship for Boston.
Boston is fortunate to avoid Clayton Kershaw in this series considering their struggles with southpaws. The Red Sox are 17th in the majors with a .316 wOBA against lefties compared to a .348 wOBA that ties for the top mark in the majors against right-handers.
The Dodgers will roll out a pair of right-handed pitchers in Kenta Maeda and Ross Stripling to open the series. The finale presents a far steeper challenge. Boston will be tasked with facing a tough lefty who also happens to be the front runner for the NL Cy Young. Hyun-Jin Ryu is 10-2 with a major league-best 1.73 ERA.
The Red Sox will roll out a lineup to begin the series similar to what they deployed heading into the break. Mookie Betts remains in his familiar leadoff role while Rafael Devers occupies the No. 2 spot behind him. Devers has been on fire since moving up in the order, hitting .426 with a 1.280 OPS in 12 games from the two hole.
Devers isn’t the only one getting a lineup promotion of late. Christian Vazquez has been on fire this month, hitting .385/.393/.846 with three home runs in his last six games. Jackie Bradley Jr. emerged from his season-long slump to hit .315/.419/.573 with five home runs last month. Those two are usually buried at the bottom of the order but they bat sixth and seventh respectively in this revamped lineup.
It remains to be seen if the Red Sox will mix up their lineup against the lefty Ryu later int he series. We could see Andrew Benintendi drop a bit further and Bradley Jr. could fall back to the bottom. At least one of those left-handed bats may start the game on the bench. Ryu has been lights out against lefties (.186/.191/.301) but, in fairness, he’s been tough as nails against basically everyone.
The Red Sox enter the series trailing the New York Yankees by nine games in the AL East and they are two games out of a Wild Card spot. They haven’t been the juggernaut that stampeded to a franchise record 108 wins last season on their way to beating the Dodgers in the World Series.
Los Angeles has continued their dominance in the NL though. While the Dodgers seem to have come back stronger since their defeat on the postseason stage, Boston is trending in the opposite direction. The Red Sox believe they are better than what they showed in the first half. If that’s true, this is the series to prove it.