Xander Bogaerts may be in the midst of a prolonged slump at the plate, but he is once again starting at shortstop and batting third for the Red Sox in their series opener against the Nationals at Nationals Park Friday night.
Bogaerts, who is celebrating his 29th birthday, comes into play Friday having gone just 3-for-25 (.120) with a .185 on-base percentage and .120 slugging percentage over his last seven games dating back to September 22.
In Thursday’s crushing 6-2 loss to the Orioles, Bogaerts grounded into a pair of crucial double plays as part of an 0-for-3 showing at the plate that certainly did not help the Red Sox avoid their fifth defeat in their last six games.
“Just not getting it done,” Bogaerts told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) Thursday night. “The quality of my at-bats have been bad… just have had very unproductive at-bats and it sucks, bro. It sucks. I have three more games to get going and try to help this team try to turn this around.”
The Red Sox will need to get the most out of their All-Star shortstop in their final series of the regular season this weekend if they want to play postseason baseball. While dropping five of their last six contests, Boston has averaged just a little more than three runs per game.
With those struggles in mind, it appears as though Sox manager Alex Cora is looking to maximize his lineup’s offensive potential as they go up against left-hander Josh Rogers in the first of three against the Nationals in the nation’s capital.
That being the case because Cora is going with a right-handed heavy lineup — and is sacrificing defense in order to do so.
Enrique Hernandez will lead off while making his 43rd start of the year at second base and he will be followed by Kyle Schwarber in left field.
Bogaerts and Rafael Devers will bat third and cleanup at their respective positions, while J.D. Martinez will get the start in right field since there is no designated hitter at a National League ballpark.
Hunter Renfroe is batting sixth and making just his fourth start of the season in center field. He will be followed by first baseman and Christian Vazquez, who will be catching Eduardo Rodriguez.
Of these eight hitters, only Bogaerts (0-for-1), Devers (1-for-1), and Vazquez (1-for-2) have previously faced off against Rogers, who spent parts of the 2018 and 2019 campaigns with the Orioles.
In what could be his final regular season start in a Red Sox uniform, Rodriguez will be going for his 12th win of the year on Friday. The 28-year-old left-hander has made three prior starts interleague in interleague play this season and owns an ERA of 7.30 across 12 1/3 innings of work in those outings.
Friday will mark just Rodriguez’s second-ever start at Nationals Park. The Venezuelan southpaw previously pitched there on July 4 of the 2018 season and tossed six scoreless innings while scattering just three hits and one walk to go along with six strikeouts.
Considering the fact that Rodriguez, a lifetime .000 (0-for-23) hitter, will be batting for himself on Friday, it’s safe to assume he could have a relatively short leash if the Red Sox need some offensive production out of the No. 9 spot in their lineup.
All that being said, first pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Rob Carr/Getty Images)