From the time he was activated from the COVID-19 related injured list on September 21 until the regular season ended on Sunday, Christian Arroyo appeared in a grand total of four games for the Red Sox.
Over those four games (one start), Arroyo accrued all of six plate appearances, as he went 1-for-6 with a single, walk, and three strikeouts during the final stretch of the 2021 campaign.
Despite that limited playing time, Arroyo will get the start at second base in Tuesday night’s Wild Card Game against the Yankees at Fenway Park. Red Sox manager Alex Cora confirmed as much when speaking to reporters on Monday.
In Arroyo’s absence, Boston had primarily relied on veteran infielder Jose Iglesias to fill the void at second base. Iglesias performed valiantly in that role, slashing .356/.406/.508 with four doubles, one triple, one home run, seven RBI, and eight runs over 23 games and 64 plate appearances.
Because he signed with the Sox on September 6, though, Iglesias was deemed ineligible by Major League Baseball to play in the postseason since he joined a new organization after the August 31 deadline.
With that rule in mind, the Red Sox essentially have no choice but to roll with Arroyo — whose last start came on September 26 — in Tuesday’s contest against the Yankees.
Arroyo’s 2021 season marked his first full year with Boston, and it was also one that marked by three separate stints on the injured list (not including the COVID-related IL) on account of a left hand contusion, right knee contusion, and left hamstring strain.
Those injuries — as well as a bout with COVID — limited the 26-year-old to just 57 games this season, though he did prove to be effective when healthy by hitting .262/.324/.445 (106 wRC+) with 12 doubles, six homers, 25 RBI, 22 runs scored, one stolen base, eight walks, and 44 strikeouts over 181 trips to the plate.
Additionally, Arroyo provided the Sox with solid defense at second base, as he posted positive-five defensive runs saved as well as an ultimate zone rating of 2.2. across 387 innings at the position, per FanGraphs.
Taking that point into consideration, Arroyo’s ability to handle things at second base could prove useful on Tuesday, as the Yankees this season put up the fourth-highest groundball rate in the American League (43.4%) while also hitting into a league-leading 154 double plays.
On the flip of side that, the right-handed hitting Arroyo may not have had the best season against right-handed pitchers (.213/.302/.383), but he is 1-for-2 with an RBI single and strikeout in his career against Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, who will be starting for New York on Tuesday.
Although it’s unclear at this point where in the Red Sox lineup Arroyo will be hitting come Tuesday night, he has fared well against fastballs this season (.290 batting average, .505 slugging percentage). This, too, could prove beneficial since Cole relies heavily upon his four-seam fastball (47% of the time this season).
All that being said, Arroyo will be playing in his first career postseason game at the big-league level on Tuesday, so it’s safe to assume he is looking forward to that.
(Picture of Christian Arroyo: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)