Tonight the Red Sox start a 6 game home stand when they start a 3 game series against the Atlanta Braves. In what is one of baseball’s best early season storylines, the Braves are in 1st place in the N.L East, lead the N.L in scoring and have an impressive 18-10 record on the road. Both teams have identical 12-8 records over their last 20 games, 2-0 records in inter-league action and very similar team ERAs: Atlanta is 8th in the MLB with a 3.47 ERA and Boston is right behind them owning a 3.51 ERA. The Braves are led by rookie second baseman and leadoff hitter Ozzie Albies, number 1 in your program who is batting .280 with 14 HR and 34 RBI. The Red Sox also have a pretty good leadoff hitter named Mookie Betts, you might have heard of him.
The pitching matchup for tonight’s game appears to be as even as it gets. Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez is 4-1 with a 4.13 ERA this year and has held teams scoreless in two out of his last three starts. E-Rod is averaging 10.88 K/9 and will be making his first career start against the Braves.
Atlanta sends two-time all-star Julio Teheran to the hill sporting his own 4-1 record with a 4.17 ERA. Teheran is 0-2 with a 4.73 ERA in his two career starts against the Red Sox. Control has been a little bit of an issue for Teheran who is averaging 4.00 BB/9.
Tonight’s Red Sox lineup does not include the return of Red Sox captain Dustin Pedroia. (He’s definitely the captain, don’t @ me.) Pedroia has missed the first 50 games of the season rehabbing from offseason knee surgery. The four-time gold-glover, two-time World Series Champion has always done his damage from the top of the lineup, but Alex Cora will certainly ease him back. Despite not starting, Pedroia is available off the bench.
BOSTON RED SOX LINEUP
- Mookie Betts RF (4-for-8 with 3 XBH)
- Andrew Benintendi LF
- J.D. Martinez DH (1-for-3)
- Mitch Moreland 1B
- Xander Bogaerts SS (3-for-7)
- Rafael Devers 3B
- Brock Holt 2B (3-for-6 HR)
- Christian Vazquez C (1-for-3)
- Jackie Bradley Jr. CF (1-for-3 HR)
Atlanta is 9-3 against left-handed starting pitchers this season but their offense has been scuffling as of late. Coming off a series against the Phillies which saw only 3 Atlanta runs, the Braves have been shutout in 3 of their last 6 games. Playing in an A.L. ballpark, the Braves will bat catcher Kurt Suzuki in the DH spot. The current Braves lineup has only 14 career plate appearances against E-Rod, so I’ve decided to include their career batting averages against the Red Sox. Those are in the parenthesis.
ATLANTA BRAVES LINEUP
- Ozzie Albies 2B
- Ronald Acuna Jr. LF
- Freddie Freeman 1B (17-for-53 = .321)
- Nick Markakis RF (166-for-613 = .271)
- Kurt Suzuki DH (67-for-199 = .337)
- Ender Inciarte CF
- Tyler Flowers C (16-for-69 = .239)
- Johan Camargo 3B
- Dansby Swanson SS
The Red Sox will be playing their first game since the club announced that 1B/DH Hanley Ramirez will be designated for assignment. For those who are unfamiliar with what that is, it simply means that the Red Sox owe Hanley his remaining salary for this season (about $15M) and have 7 days to either release or trade him. Today’s news marks the end of the Hanley era in Boston, but many believe he still has what it takes to help a Major League team win. I don’t anticipate Hanley will be unemployed for long.
Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski held a press conference at 3:00 PM today to discuss the decision to DFA Hanley Ramirez. Here are those highlights:
Dombrowski says it was a “baseball-related move” that “had nothing to do” with the $22M vesting option in Hanley’s contract. He says the Sox “were prepared to go in a different direction” in regards to a roster move to clear room for Pedroia. It was Cora’s recommendation to DFA Hanley, which surprised him, but it was Dombrowski’s decision. After discussing it with ownership, Dombrowski informed Hanley at 3:45 a.m. that he would be designated. Hanley didn’t have much of a reaction.
Blake Swihart will play a variety of roles, including 1B. Blake is thrilled to be staying after news broke that it wouldn’t be him that would be traded or DFA’d. Dombrowski says he liked Swihart as a player, believes he’s a big league player and if the Sox were to trade they’d need to “get a player they really liked” in return. Refutes the idea that the club’s asking price is too high,
Cora and Dombrowski had little faith in Hanley’s ability to perform well off the bench and never really considered it as an option. Mitch Moreland’s production played a role in the decision and they feel they are a better ball club with Moreland moving into the starting role. They are maintaining that Hanley’s $22M vesting option was not a factor.
Relief pitcher Tyler Thornburg was recalled from his rehab assignment because it was set to end early next week and the Red Sox don’t feel as though he’s ready to pitching regularly at the Major League level. He needs more time, but it progressing well and hasn’t experienced any setbacks. The decision was made because they didn’t want to rush him back. Thornburg is eligible to begin his rehab assignment next Friday.