The lineups are out for the first game of the 2016 ALDS.
|BOSTON RED SOX||CLEVELAND INDIANS|
|Dustin Pedroia, 2B||Carlos Santana, 1B|
|Brock Holt, 3B||Jason Kipnis, 2B|
|Mookie Betts, RF||Francisco Lindor, SS|
|David Ortiz, DH||Mike Napoli, DH|
|Hanley Ramirez, 1B||Jose Ramirez, 3B|
|Xander Bogaerts, SS||Lonnie Chisenhall, RF|
|Jackie Bradley Jr., CF||Coco Crisp, LF|
|Sandy Leon, C||Tyler Naquin, CF|
|Andrew Benintendi, LF||Roberto Perez, C|
|SP - Rick Porcello||SP - Trevor Bauer|
So here we are. Brock Holt is batting second, and Andrew Benintendi is batting ninth. This is bad. It’s pretty damn difficult to argue otherwise. There are scenarios out there which would see Brock Holt batting for the fourth or fifth time with the game on the line while Mookie Betts, David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez and, yes, Andrew Benintendi had only seen three or four at bats (respectively).
These situations are not likely to occur, and even in the event that they do, the change from one of the better bats to the lineup’s worst in Holt is still only so many percentage points given away. This is all marginal in the greater scheme of things. But dammit, if you’re not going to go for every ounce in the playoffs, when will you?
The explanation from Farrell is that Brock Holt sees a lot of pitches. This is true. His 4.32 pitcher per plate appearance against RHP this year is the best of anyone in the lineup. However, it falls short of Ryan Hanigan’s 4.40, and the reason you don’t see Hanigan in the lineup much less batting second is because he doesn’t produce. Holt produces more than Hanigan, but a lot less than all the guys he’s batting ahead of. Seeing pitches is all well-and-good, but it’s a cherry on top sort of thing. Production has to come first, and Holt just doesn’t do that enough to merit the spot.
All that being said...it’s an imperfect lineup that’s still in a great position to win. This game is Boston’s best chance to take the road game they have to against the Indians. It’s the pitching mismatch that Cleveland’s injuries have forced them into. The Sox can’t waste that opportunity.
First pitch is at 8:08 p.m. ET with broadcasts on TBS and WEEI.