Xander Bogaerts will bat last Sunday afternoon as the Red Sox try to take a series win from the Baltimore Orioles.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||BOSTON RED SOX|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Brock Holt - RF|
|Steve Pearce - 1B||Daniel Nava - LF|
|Adam Jones - CF||Dustin Pedroia - 2B|
|Nelson Cruz - DH||David Ortiz - DH|
|Delmon Young - LF||Mike Napoli - 1B|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Stephen Drew - SS|
|Manny Machado - 3B||David Ross - C|
|Ryan Flaherty - 2B||Jackie Bradley - CF|
|Caleb Joseph - C||Xander Bogaerts - 3B|
|Kevin Gausman - RHP||Jake Peavy - RHP|
To call what the young Bogaerts is enduring a "slump" is an understatement. In the 25 games since his OPS peaked at .859, he's hitting a shocking .095/.139/.137 in 101 plate appearances. It's true that some of this is bad luck--almost any player will run into enough ground ball singles to do better than that over the course of 100 trips to the plate--but it's also true that pitchers have keyed in on his vulnerability to sliders. He's seeing more and more of them now, and has clearly yet to turn the page, earning him a trip down to the bottom of the lineup.
And that's likely where he'll stay until he figures it out. It's the sort of thing a trip to the minors isn't likely to solve, as most pitchers with a major league slider are at least good enough to find their way into a bullpen somewhere. And while right now Xander is not doing enough to really "earn" that roster spot, there's a lot more value to the Red Sox in giving him time to work his issues out than there is in putting the best possible player in the lineup in a season that isn't really going anywhere.