The Red Sox flew across the country to take on the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chavez Ravine in Game 3 of the 2018 World Series.
While the game isn’t set to start until 8:09 pm ET, that doesn’t mean it’s too early for fans to get frustrated over a managerial decision made by Alex Cora. Like many times before, it has to do with the lineup card.
Here’s the lineup posted by Alex Cora ahead of Game Three tonight.
Mookie Betts RF
Xander Bogaerts SS
Mitch Moreland 1B
J.D. Martinez LF
Brock Holt 2B
Rafael Devers 3B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Christian Vazquez C
Rick Porcello RHP
The immediate head-scratcher is that Bradley is in over Benintendi; thus leading to the outrage of fans of the Red Sox across the nation. However, look at the numerous decisions the rookie manager has made this season that wound up working out. Nobody wanted David Price to pitch again in October and what does Cora do? He continues to stick with him, and we all know how that has turned out. Just in this series alone, Eduardo Nunez pinch-hits for Devers in Game 1 and what’s he do? He promptly hits a 3-run dagger of a home run to propel the Sox to an 8-4 win.
But let’s not just roll into tonight’s game puffing out our chests and chanting “In Cora We Trust!” Let’s try and rationalize, shall we?
The afternoon drive show for WEEI, “OMF,” is down in L.A. to do their show while the Red Sox are in town. It was reported on there that J.D. Martinez, who rolled his ankle pretty badly in Game 1, was lacking very strong lateral movement during the workout this afternoon. His range is already limited in the outfield, but having a flat tire will not help his cause at all. In terms of range efficiency, not many have a better rating than Gold Glove finalist, Jackie Bradley Jr.—including fellow finalist, Andrew Benintendi. From that perspective alone, the move makes sense.
Moreover, if Martinez had to be removed in—for sake of argument—the fourth inning of the game due to injury, the replacement would have to bat fourth in the lineup for the rest of the game. Career-wise, Bradley is a .167 hitter batting fourth, while Benintendi is a .250 hitter. Plus Bradley does most of his damage in the bottom third of the lineup anyway.
This move isn’t one to be comfortable with simply on the principle that everything Alex Cora touches turns to gold. The comfort level of this move should rest in the fact that it statistically makes more sense for Benintendi to come off of the bench than it does for Jackie Bradley Jr. to do so.