Travis Shaw is moving down in the lineup, but it's less a demotion than a repurposing, as the Red Sox seek to get some protection for Jackie Bradley Jr. after he was intentionally walked twice in Saturday's game.
|BOSTON RED SOX||CLEVELAND INDIANS|
|Mookie Betts, RF||TBA|
|Dustin Pedroia, 2B|
|Xander Bogaerts, SS|
|David Ortiz, DH|
|Hanley Ramirez, 1B|
|Jackie Bradley Jr., CF|
|Travis Shaw, 3B|
|Blake Swihart, LF|
|Christian Vazquez, C|
|Starting Pitcher -- Rick Porcello||Starting Pitcher -- Danny Salazar|
What a bizarre and wonderful world we live in where the Red Sox are worrying about protection for Bradley, and have the ability to give him just that all the way down in the seventh spot.
Really, all this got me thinking: what is the right lineup for the Red Sox right now? It's probably not the one they've been using, which has its origins in how things have shaken out in recent years. Dustin Pedroia is having a great season, for instance, but he's batting second while Jackie Bradley Jr., who just eclipsed David freaking Ortiz in OPS is all the way at sixth.
Whatever the answer, I don't think it has JBJ sixth. Probably second, to be honest, with the rest following based on handedness until you reach the Swihart/Vazquez combination at the bottom, which are the only really obvious spots.
The good news is that the Red Sox can afford to just stick with the status quo and forego optimization because this group is just so stacked that there's no real need to risk any major shake-up. Sure, move Travis Shaw, who has a .926 OPS on the season (and even better than that in May), down to seventh. He can't take it as an insult when the guy moving above him is one of the league's most productive bats, and the worst name from 1-to-6 is the 2008 MVP in the middle of a renaissance season.
But eventually, when Travis Shaw is the guy drawing intentional walks after Bradley's doubles, we might see this group shift around bit by bit until the perfect equilibrium is reached. That, or the Red Sox will start getting numbers from their left field spot, and the league will simply agree to spot them ten runs and not bother with those halves of the inning.
First pitch is at 1:35 p.m. ET with broadcasts on NESN, WEEI, and the MLB Network.