With a fair amount of talent currently on the disabled list, how is this team filling the absences? How are these “role players” preforming under the pressure of expectations from Boston fans and media?
In recent weeks the Red Sox have placed numerous everyday players on the disabled list. The versatility of the bench was questioned, and put to the test. How have these players preformed? What will their roles look like once these players come back from injury at full strength?
The starting rotation
It’s no secret that the starting rotation has taken a beating this season. Despite the pile of injuries it seems like they are pitching better than ever. With Cy Young candidate Chris Sale back on the 10 day disabled list with shoulder inflammation, one man has truly risen to the occasion. Haters rejoice to none other than David Price.
He has been chewed up, spit out, pummeled, and completely shammed by the Boston media and “fans” (bandwagoners we know who you are). In his last 7 starts, he sports a 5-0 record with an incredible 1.50 ERA with 7 walks and 48 strikeouts to mold a 0.88 whip. For a pitcher that everyone likes to use as their punching bag, he’s finally shutting them all up. Once Sale comes back expect him to be the number 2 starter in the rotation.
Another starting pitcher that seems to have been unnoticed is Eduardo Rodriguez. After being on the dl for a while due to an ankle injury. Rodriguez has finally made a few rehab starts. He made a rehab start against the New Hampshire Fisher cats on Monday. He threw 63 pitches (39 for strikes) in four shutout innings, including 8 strikeouts.
A huge contributor in his absence is Brian Johnson. Although his last start was a rocky one, over his last 7 he sports a 3-1 record, with a 4.01 ERA to go along with 11 walks, 33 strikeouts in 33.2 innings pitched. While his numbers don’t justify just how well he has performed in the rotation, expect to see him in a Hector Velazquez role once E-rod comes back.
With Ian Kinsler being reactivated last Friday, the team had some backups in store. Brock Holt and Eduardo Nunez have stepped up big this season. Holt is hitting a modest .265 with 3 homers and 32 rbi’s in 86 games this season. in his 52 starts coming at second base, he has zero errors (1 all season). He is the definition of a true utility player. He has been one of the few shining stars in that position with Dustin Pedroia still fighting his nagging knee injury.
The other player who has made contributions at second is Eduardo Nunez. The 31-year-old has played 74 games at the position. With a .257 average, 7 homers, 38 rbi’s Nunez has been consistent this season. While he thrives more in the left side of the field, he has been a good player in the lineup. The team also has guys like Brandon Phillips and Tzu-Wei Lin in the minor leagues waiting for their shot.
Christian Vazquez has been working with Sox legend Jason Veritek while recovering from a pinky injury. In the meantime, Sandy Leon and Blake Swihart have played nicely. Leon gets the majority of reps behind the plate. While his offensive numbers are not worth mentioning, his defense stands out. He currently has a catchers ERA of 3.13 in 69 games behind the plate. Along the way he even received a personal endorsement from former CY Young winner Rick Porcello.
Blake Swihart hasn’t seen much time in the majors this season. Most appearances have come from pinch hitting. While he hasn’t been a huge factor this season, he still brings versatility if and when the team calls his name. Truly a team player.
How does this affect the team chemistry moving forward? Will this translate to a deep playoff run? Find out soon!