Thursday Red Sox Lineups: Ryan Lavarnway Starts Behind The Plate

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 27: Third base coach Tim Bogar #17 (L) congratulates Ryan Lavarnway #60 of the Boston Red Sox after hitting a three RBI home run against the Baltimore Orioles during the fourth inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 27, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

It's Ryan Lavarnway time! After wallowing in the minors for the past four months, the big-hitting, small-gloved catcher is not only in the majors, but starting behind the plate.

It's a bit of an odd time to fit him in with the right-handed pitcher starting opposite Jon Lester, but perhaps it's Lester himself who's led to Lavarnway getting the nod. Lester has been caught by Salty in about two-thirds of his innings, and he's allowed an OPS of nearly .900 in those outings. With Shoppach behind the plate? It drops over 200 points to .673.

Now, Lavarnway isn't Shoppach behind the plate, but sometimes it's less about the actual defensive and game-calling skill of the catcher and more about feeling. I'm sure everyone remembers, for instance, Clay Buchholz' natural connection with Victor Martinez. Despite Jason Varitek being one of the best defensive catcher in the game with his always-working computer of a mind, Buchholz just gelled with Victor, and preferred to have him behind the plate whenever he took the mound.

Of course, Salty hasn't exactly been helping things with his bat, either. While taken as a whole his season still looks pretty good for a catcher, his OPS dropped below .700 in July, and he was absolutely awful in last night's defeat. Maybe he needs a mental health day as much as Lavarnway needs to get into a major league lineup.

Here's hoping it's all for the best. Lavarnway could be huge for this club for the next six years, or he could be nothing at all. Now is the beginning of his chance to prove himself.


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