Miguel Cabrera’s record streak of having reached base in 31 straight postseason games was snapped Tuesday when he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in the 1-0 loss to the Red Sox.
Obviously, there’s no shame in that. Even Cabrera mixes in an 0-for every once in a while. But the fashion in which it happened today was really quite stunning; as WEEI’s Alex Speier noted, Cabrera swung and missed at eight fastballs over the course of his four at-bats.
Now, Cabrera isn’t a Joe Mauer or a Marco Scutaro; he’s always mixed in his fair share of swings-and-misses. But eight in a game, just on the fastball? Some quick and very dirty math: Cabrera typically sees 16-17 pitches per game and swings and misses at just under 10 percent of them. That 1.6 misses per game. About 60 percent of the pitches he sees are fastballs, so, basically, he tends to swing and miss at one fastball per night. Today, against John Lackey and Junichi Tazawa, it was eight.
Of course, Cabrera is hurt. We know that. But the popular narrative the last few days has been that he’s doing better in batting practice and looking better in the field and on the basepaths. There’s no denying it, though: his bat looked slow today. Expect Game 4 starter Jake Peavy to keep attacking him with fastballs on the outside corner until he does something with one.
The Red Sox have some tough decisions to make in advance of the World Series next week; namely, what to do with some of their hottest-hitting players once the series shifts to a National League park — and National League rules. During a press conference on Saturday, manager Alex Cora said he’d be open to the idea of starting All-Star right fielder Mookie Betts at second base when the club’s regular DH, J.D. Martinez, is forced to play the outfield during away games.
The Red Sox carry home field advantage through the Fall Classic, so Games 1 and 2 will be played at Fenway Park — as well as Games 6 and 7, should those become necessary. Depending on the outcome of NLCS Game 7 later tonight, World Series Games 3 through 5 will be played at Dodger Stadium or Miller Park. That’s when Betts might take over the keystone from Ian Kinsler and Brock Holt, both of whom have shared second base duties over the course of the 2018 postseason.
The idea isn’t without merit. Betts and Martinez comprise two of the team’s top talents at the plate and, should the Red Sox need to stave off elimination in Games 4 and 5, sitting either of them doesn’t make sense. The 26-year-old Betts led the team with a staggering .346/.438/.640 batting line, 32 home runs, 30 stolen bases, and career-best 10.4 fWAR over 614 PA, while Martinez posted some career totals of his own, slashing .330/.402/.629 with 43 home runs, a 1.031 OPS, and 5.9 fWAR in 649 PA. This wouldn’t be the first time Betts has taken reps at second, either, as he’s logged 15 games at the position over the course of his five-year career, most recently during a 4-1 win over the Yankees in August.
Whether or not Betts is considered a lock for all three games is another question, one to which Cora didn’t give a definite answer. “I don’t know, man,” the skipper told reporters Saturday. “[Betts] already played second during the regular season, so there’s always a chance, I guess.” He later added that while Betts would be taking ground balls at second, it’s part of the routine he’s maintained all year — so nothing should be read into it until a clear decision has been announced.