Red Sox

Red Sox lineup: Tzu-Wei Lin becomes the latest starter at second base

Red Sox lineup: Tzu-Wei Lin becomes the latest starter at second base

The Boston Red Sox are gearing up for a three-game series against the first-place Tampa Bay Rays. The team is looking to get back on track, but they'll have to do so without most of their top options at second base.

The Red Sox are down three second basemen with Dustin Pedroia, Eduardo Nunez, and Brock Holt all on the injured list. As a result, the team will be starting Tzu-Wei Lin at second base. Lin has bounced between the majors and minors for the past few seasons and has posted a .254 average in 122 major league at-bats.

While the Sox called up one of their top prospects, Michael Chavis, on Thursday, he won't be in the lineup.

Eduardo Rodriguez will make his fourth start of the season for the Red Sox. He carries a bloated 7.98 ERA, but he earned a win last time out against the Baltimore Orioles, as he allowed just two runs over 6 2/3 innings. He became the first Sox starter to earn a win with the victory. 

Here's a look at the lineups for both teams as the Red Sox vs. Rays series gets started.

BOSTON RED SOX (6-13)

Andrew Benintendi, LF
Mookie Betts, RF
Mitch Moreland, 1B
J.D. Martinez, DH
Xander Bogaerts, SS
Rafael Devers, 3B
Christian Vazquez, C
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Tzu-Wei Lin, 2B

Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP (1-2, 7.98 ERA)

TAMPA BAY RAYS (14-5)

Yandy Diaz, 1B
Tommy Pham, LF
Austin Meadows, DH
Avisail Garcia, RF
Daniel Robertson, 3B
Guillermo Heredia, CF
Brandon Lowe, 2B
Willy Adames, SS
Michael Perez, C

Ryne Stanek, RHP (0-0, 1.93 ERA)

Rays reaping the rewards of a Derek Lowe/Jason Varitek type deal>>>

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Benching Jackie Bradley was never an option, but first homer of season reminds us what he can be

Benching Jackie Bradley was never an option, but first homer of season reminds us what he can be

It took nearly two months, but on Monday Jackie Bradley's drought finally ended.

The Gold Glove center fielder, mired in a historically brutal slump even by his standards, launched his first home run of the year in a 12-2 pounding of the Blue Jays. His opposite-field shot in the sixth played no role in the outcome -- the Red Sox were already cruising to victory -- but the badly needed blast came with more of us questioning his place in the everyday lineup.

Bradley entered the game hitting .144 with no homers and only four extra-base hits. For someone coming off a strong second half and excellent postseason that included the American League Championship Series MVP award, Bradley's season-long funk felt particularly demoralizing.

While we've always accepted streakiness as part of the package, it really did feel like he had turned a corner last year. He began consulting with J.D. Martinez's personal hitting coach around the All-Star break and in the second half delivered some of the most consistent offense of his career, batting .269 with an .827 OPS. He followed by posting a .943 OPS between the ALCS and World Series, driving in 10 runs in 10 games with three homers and a double.

He arrived at spring training confident in a new swing that would end his streakiness once and for all, and in a sense he was right, because there have been no streaks to speak of, just struggle upon struggle.

But Bradley's path forward is actually deceptively simple. It's easy to forget that he only hit .200 last postseason, because virtually all of his production was pivotal, but it showed the way he could validate his existence from an offensive standpoint: hit for power and his place in the lineup would be secure.

When he opened this season by failing to homer in his first 38 games, however, concerns over his viability began gaining urgency. How long could the Red Sox carry an everyday player who wasn't even hitting .150, let alone .200, no matter how game-changing his glove?

Replacing him isn't as easy as it sounds, though, which is why he's not going anywhere. One option would be to make Martinez a more frequent outfielder and move Andrew Benintendi to center, but the DH has battled back issues and is an average defender at best. The Red Sox need his bat in the lineup, not his glove.

The other would require toppling dominoes that would leave the Red Sox worse than where they started: bench Bradley, move Benintendi to center, try power-hitting youngster Michael Chavis in left, and then fill second base with Eduardo Nunez, Tzu-Wei Lin, Dustin Pedroia, or Brock Holt, depending on who's healthy.

Their averages range from .063 (Holt) to .200 (Lin), so you'd be leaving yourself in the same position offensively, but weakened defensively at two positions. The same logic applies to putting Steve Pearce (.131) in left.

In that context, there's little incentive to bench Bradley, which is why he has appeared in all but eight games. It helps that every regular except Benintendi now owns an OPS of greater than .800, so there's enough offense to go around. The emergence of Chavis and Christian Vazquez lower in the order has saved Bradley from answering some seriously tough questions.

So forget about benching him. A far more palatable option is that Bradley rediscovers his power stroke, maintains a solid eye (16 walks), and keeps making web gems.

Maybe Monday represented a tentative first step in that direction.

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Watch Red Sox rookie Michael Chavis' hot streak continue with huge home run

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USA TODAY Sports

Watch Red Sox rookie Michael Chavis' hot streak continue with huge home run

Michael Chavis' run for American League Rookie of the Year took another positive step forward in the Boston Red Sox's game against the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday afternoon.

Chavis crushed a two-run home run, his second blast in as many days, deep to left field at Rogers Centre to give Boston a 6-2 lead in the third inning.

It was Chavis' ninth home run of the season, tying him with J.D. Martinez for the second-most on the team. Chavis, however, has accumulated these home runs in 19 fewer games than Martinez.

The former top prospect entered Monday's matchup in Toronto with a .290 batting average, 22 RBI and a .389 on-base percentage in 25 games this season. He's collected multiple hits in four of his last six games, including 10 hits overall during that span.

Chavis, at least so far, has been hitting at a better rate than Blue Jays outfielder Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who is considered one of the elite prospects in baseball.

It's obviously very early into Chavis' career, but his impressive development has been among the most encouraging aspects of Boston's 2019 season. Winning the AL Rookie of the Year quickly is becoming a very attainable goal for the talented infielder.

Betts focused on another World Series title, not next contract>>>

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