So much for Andrew Benintendi making his return as early as Wednesday. It’s only Tuesday, and the Red Sox have already reactivated their rookie outfielder for tonight’s game against the Orioles.
Apparently, this was more a matter of necessity than anything else. Chris Young may have been tabbed to start against Dylan Bundy anyways given that he’s been hitting lefties and righties alike this season, with his OPS up over .800 even against same-handed pitching. But Brock Holt seems not to even be available as a backup as he deals with a sore shoulder, making it fairly important that they have Benintendi available to play the outfield just in case.
The aforementioned performance of Young even against right-handed pitchers does diminish the importance of Benintendi’s return over the next few weeks given that he’s not exactly filling a big hole for the Sox. But Benintendi is certainly likely to be the better bat against right-handed pitchers in the short-term and long-term alike, just as Chris Young can be relied on to destroy whatever lefties they put in front of him. Typically a platoon situation involves trying to combine some less-than-amazing players to produce one average-or-better starter. With Young and Benintendi, though, the combination of the two could prove pretty ridiculous, even given the reality that platoons rarely produce quite the results you’d expect.
Having two starter-quality players will also make it much easier on the Red Sox to ease Benintendi back into things in the wake of his injury. Certainly there’s no need to rush him back. The Sox do need to actually make it to October before they can focus on it, and ideally do so without having a one-game playoff, but once they’re there, they’ll be best served by having Benintendi and the rest of their outfield at 100%. And when the dropoff between the starter and the backup promises to be fairly small, that’s a sacrifice the Sox can certainly make to keep everyone fresh and healthy.