Regardless of how the Boston Red Sox fare in the American League Division Series, they have a problem going forward.
In the first inning of Boston’s 8-2 loss to the Houston Astros in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday, utility man Eduardo Nunez was carried off the field after re-aggravating his right knee injury. John Farrell after the game ruled Nunez out for the rest of the series, meaning he’s ineligible for the American League Championship Series, should the Sox make it that far.
And, for an already thin infield, that’s terrible news.
Farrell also announced that Nunez will be replaced by outfielder Chris Young, leaving Deven Marrero and Brock Holt as the only reserve infielders on Boston’s playoff roster. That, in and of itself, is problematic enough, but it’s even more concerning when you consider both players’ numbers this season.
In 188 plate appearances in 2017, Marrero hit just .211 with a .593 OPS. Those aren’t good numbers. Neither are his four homers and 27 RBI. Holt, meanwhile, managed to hit just .200 with no homers and seven RBI in an injury-plagued season.
Sure, both players are more than capable defensively, with Holt providing additional depth as a potential replacement at first base as well as in the outfield. But the Red Sox need players up the middle who can provide some pop offensively, something neither Holt nor Marrero offer.
Furthermore, second baseman Dustin Pedroia has missed time throughout the second half with an injured knee, and probably shouldn’t play all nine innings throughout the postseason. If he, like Nunez, should re-aggravate his injured knee, Boston will have problems not just scoring runs, but also putting bodies on the field.
This is why Nunez’s absence is so troubling.
Since the Red Sox acquired him from the San Francisco Giants in a mid-season trade, Nunez has been a beast. The 30-year-old hit .321 with eight homers and 27 RBIs to go along with six stolen bases, all while spending time at third base, shortstop and second base in 38 games for Boston.
Replacing that type of production and versatility is difficult for any team, let alone a team with as many depth and offensive issues as the Sox.
Thumbnail photo via Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports Images
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