The Red Sox will have Rick Porcello on the mound Wednesday night as they take aim at the three-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics.
|BOSTON RED SOX||OAKLAND ATHLETICS|
|Mookie Betts, RF||TBA|
|Dustin Pedroia, 2B|
|Xander Bogaerts, SS|
|David Ortiz, DH|
|Hanley Ramirez, 1B|
|Chris Young, LF|
|Travis Shaw, 3B|
|Christian Vazquez, C|
|Jackie Bradley Jr., CF|
|Starting Pitcher -- Rick Porcello||Starting Pitcher -- Erik Surkamp|
With another lefty in Erik Surkamp (of the 6.25 career ERA) on the mound, Chris Young and his .961 OPS split vs. southpaws will stay right where they are in the batting order. But that's pretty much par-for-the-course. In fact, most lineups these days are. The Red Sox know who they want to play against who, and generally have the order figured out. There's just one problem, one guy who's place in the batting order is way out of line with his production at the plate.
So let's talk Jackie Bradley Jr.
In a lineup like this one, it can be extremely difficult to find room to move a guy up. Seven-of-nine starters for the Red Sox have a better than league-average bat, and it's damn hard to tell someone they have to move down not because of what they've done, but because some other guy is just going nuts.
But going nuts is exactly what Bradley is doing, and it's an absolute waste to have a top-50 bat in the majors (33rd by wOBA, in fact) batting ninth.
The reason the Red Sox are doing this in their lineups vs. LHH is ostensibly to avoid the four-righties-in-a-row group that would bunch up from 9-3 if Vazquez was batting last where he pretty clearly belongs. Really, the obvious way to fix that would be to move Bradley to the leadoff spot, put Betts in eighth, and bump Vazquez down to the ninth spot. But unseating Mookie just...doesn't feel quite right. Yes, he's been cold, but if the Red Sox can't trust him to eventually earn that spot at the top of the order, who can they trust?
Still, even if they're not moving Mookie down, they can at least move Bradley up some. Even if it's just to get him into the seven slot against righties by switching him and Holt. It's past time they acknowledge his success with a more respectable spot in the order, even if in a ridiculously full lineup he may not be able to get up to a place truly befitting what he's done with the bat of late.
First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. ET with broadcasts on NESN and WEEI.