Face it Boston fans: Jason Varitek is going to be playing for the Sox until your grandkids have grandkids. Peter Gammons just reported that the Sox is about to sign a $2 million contract.
You have to think that this means that Saltalamacchia is the starter and Varitek the backup, right? Of course that’s the case. Except, man, if you’re Saltalamacchia, don’t you have to be a bit nervous? He’s not Victor Martinez, whose obviously superior talent kept in the starting slot no matter what happened. He’s a kid, still yet to realize his potential and about whom many questions have already been raised by the columnists and talk radio. I liken the dynamic to your girlfriend keeping her ex-boyfriend around for yard work purposes. She says she loves you, baby, but you can’t feel too secure about things.
Varitek is no longer a viable starter, but if Salty struggles, you know damn well people are going to cry out for the Captain to be behind the plate. In the grand scheme of things this is a small problem — and there are about a zillion worse caddies for Salty to have than the guy who knows more about catching in Boston than anyone this side of Carlton Fisk — but really, you have to wonder when, if ever, the Sox are going to move away from Varitek.
Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal has not had a good postseason. Entering Monday night’s NLCS Game 3, he was batting .111/.238/.278 in 21 trips to the plate across the NLDS and the first two games of the NLCS.
Defense has also been an issue for Grandal. In Game 1 of the NLCS, Grandal was on the hook for two passed balls. In the sixth inning of Game 3 Monday night, he couldn’t corral a curve in the dirt, which allowed Travis Shaw to score the Brewers’ second run of the night. Starter Walker Buehler was charged with a wild pitch. In the eighth, with Ryan Braun on first base and Shaw at the plate, Grandal again couldn’t corral a pitch in the dirt, allowing Braun to move to second base. Fortunately for the Dodgers, Alex Wood was able to escape the inning with no damage.
Manager Dave Roberts said that Austin Barnes, not Grandal, will start behind the plate for Game 4 on Tuesday night, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports. That comes as no surprise at all. When Grandal struck out with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, Dodger fans regaled him with boos.
Barnes will be an upgrade defensively, but he’s lacking with the bat. He had an 0-for-3 performance in Game 2, though with an RBI, bringing his career slash line in the playoffs to .200/.281/.300 across 57 plate appearances. During the regular season, his career 100 adjusted OPS is a fair bit behind Grandal’s 115. Roberts is trading offense for defense in Game 4. Rich Hill will get the start opposite the Brewers’ Gio González.