BALTIMORE — A lefty was on the mound Thursday and Andrew Benintendi was out of the Red Sox lineup. Chris Young, resident expert hitter against southpaws, was in the outfield instead.
If Benintendi were hitting well overall, it’d be a harder choice for Red Sox manager John Farrell. Sit Benintendi, or maybe Jackie Bradley Jr.? Keep both in?
But Bradley Jr., a left-handed hitter like Benintendi, has done very well in limited action against southpaws this season. Hanley Ramirez isn’t playing first base for the time being, so you can’t use Young in the DH slot. Plus, Sam Travis’ bat is one you want out there.
All of it adds up to a platoon situation for Benintendi, a temporary necessity for a player many expected at season’s outset would win American League Rookie of the Year.
“I think when we go through a stretch where there's maybe two, three games where guys get — you take advantage your a roster, all of a sudden it becomes a platoon,” Farrell said Thursday. “He's not a platoon player. But you pick spots where guys can maybe spark an offense with Chris Young being inserted. I don't see him as a platoon player.”
No one does. But right now, that’s how he’s being used. In a perfect world for development, Benintendi is playing every day. Same with a guy like Travis. But the win-now Sox need to maximize production.
Benintendi won’t win Rookie of the Year, by the way.
The Yankees’ Aaron Judge has virtually locked it up, and it wouldn’t be close even if Benintendi were playing better. Judge has a .690 slugging percentage.
Benintendi, on the other hand, is hitting .266 with a .341 on-base percentage and .388 slugging percentage overall. In his last 18 games (17 starts), he’s got a .125/.234/.141 line.
“There's been, I think a heavy dose of constant change of speeds,” Farrell said of how Benintendi has been pitched. “He's been respected because he does show power. So there's been not the default 2-0 fastball where it's, here, try to get an out. He's had some damage in those counts and those situations. So I think there's a clear cut attack plan where it's a heavy dose of change of speeds.
“At times, you see him in the middle of that, maybe caught in between on speeds at times. But still, good looking young player with a great swing. … When we look back after this full season, his numbers will be right in line where we kind of projected them to be.”
Benintendi’s been in the clean-up spot, but it’s hard to justify that placement right now, unless it’s to maintain the dynamic around him — and to show confidence he’ll bust out.
"I think he's been good. We've asked a lot of him too,” Farrell said. “Particularly as we've gone through a realignment in the lineup. Slid him down to the four-hole which he handled well. Like a lot of players there's going to be some ebbs and flows to the season. He's in a little bit of one right now. Chris Young has swung the bat well against Wade Miley so a little bit of a matchup in play here. But we fully expect Beni to be on the field the next three games here against right handers.”