Photo Credit: Boston Herald
The Red Sox left handed situation is muddied, but is slowly becoming clear.
For the large majority of the 2018 season, the Boston Red Sox have gone on without a left-handed reliever / specialist. The phenomenon is largely due to injuries, as Brian Johnson has flipped between starter, and reliever, and the rest of the group has spent the majority of the season in Pawtucket.
The lack of a lefty certainly hasn’t hurt the Red Sox record-wise, but the postseason is a different animal altogether. Every out is magnified, and though most of the feared power hitters in the American League are right handed (see: Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Khris Davis, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa…etc). However, there will be a time in the postseason that the Red Sox are going to need a big out, or two, against left handed opposition.
Brian Johnson has done an admirable job filling in for multiple injuries this season in the Sox rotation. He’s taken a beating at times, but has largely managed to put the Red Sox in a position to win the game throughout his outings. The bullpen has been a different story for Johnson, as he’s posted a 4.94 ERA over 31 innings. Meanwhile, lefties are hitting .233 against him, but the less-than-stellar track record out of the bullpen should raise a red flag.
After Johnson, the left-handed options consist of a bit of mystery, or Drew Pomeranz / Robby Scott. Let’s state a fact: Pomeranz will not be touching a baseball in October for the Boston Red Sox. His tenure in Boston is likely over after this season and nothing he has done in 2018 should warrant even the slightest consideration for a postseason spot. Meanwhile, Scott has been very poor in limited innings, as he possesses an ERA over 9. Alex Cora should take a hard pass on Mr. Scott, as well.
Bobby Poyner may be the answer the Red Sox have been looking for. Unfortunately for him, he was the victim of possessing a plethora of minor league options and spent most of the season in Pawtucket. It’s important to note because his demotion was in no means indicative of his performance with the big league club. He posted a 1.69 ERA in Boston during the first half of the season, while being stuck on the constant train from Fenway back to Pawtucket.
After being called up by the Red Sox in September, the lefty has excelled largely. Sure, he served up a homerun last night against Toronto, but his postseason duties will likely be kept to getting a big out, not multiple outs. A critical note is that LHH’s are hitting .133 against Poyner. That number alone should warrant consideration and it’s easy to envision him getting a bit out against Matt Olson, Greg Bird, Brian McCann, or another power hitting lefty in October.
Let’s not mistake Bobby Poyner for Andrew Miller, but he could provide the Red Sox with a big lift in the postseason if given the opportunity.