Red Sox Lineup: Jose Peraza Gets First Start of Season in Left Field in Series Finale Against Rays

After stranding the bases loaded in the ninth inning of a 5-1 loss to the Rays on Tuesday, the Red Sox will look to wrap up their first road-trip of the season with a bounce-back win in St. Petersburg on Wednesday.

Left-hander Martin Perez will be making his third start of the year for Boston as he is coming off his first victory in a Red Sox uniform in his last time out against the Mets.

In five career outings (four starts) at Tropicana Field, the 29-year-old Perez owns a lifetime 8.39 ERA and .927 OPS against the Rays over 24 2/3 total innings of work.

Here is how the rest of the Red Sox will be lining up behind Perez and against Rays’ starter Ryan Yarbrough on Wednesday night:

Among the nine hitters in Boston’s lineup, J.D. Martinez has by far seen Yarbrough the best, as the 33-year-old owns a lifetime .636/.667/1.182 slash line in 11 career at-bats against the Rays southpaw.

Also worth noting here, Jose Peraza will be making his first start in left field with the Red Sox, a position he played 33 times while a member of the Cincinnati Reds.

With Peraza manning left field in this one, Andrew Benintendi will start the night on the bench, while the left-handed bats of Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mitch Moreland will also sit with a left-hander on the mound for Tampa Bay.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox going for win No. 4 in game No. 12.

Red Sox’ Andrew Benintendi Is the Ninth-Best Left Fielder in Baseball, per One Former Executive

In his most recent Big Board for The Athletic, former Reds and Nationals general manager Jim Bowden ranked Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi as the ninth-best left fielder in baseball.

Listed behind Washington’s Juan Soto, Houston’s Michael Brantley, Tampa Bay’s Austin Meadows, San Diego’s Tommy Pham, Atlanta’s Marcell Ozuna, Chicago’s Eloy Jimenez, Pittsburgh’s Bryan Reynolds, and Oakland’s Mark Canha, Benintendi, per Bowden, “is the most disappointing left fielder in baseball.”

Leading with that is certainly an interesting way to make your case that Benintendi is one of the best left fielders in the game, but Bowden defends his ranking by saying “Now you’re probably wondering how [Benintendi] made this list. It’s simple. I’m betting on him and the fact that he’s only 25 years old and is primed for a breakout season.”

As we know, Benintendi, a former first-round pick out of Arkansas in 2015, had a very underwhelming 2019 campaign in what was initially supposed to be a breakout year.

One of the reasons for Benintendi’s struggles, as Bowden notes, is that he bulked up a bit in the months following the 2018 World Series, which the Red Sox believe may have actually slowed down his swing and mechanics, resulting in an all-around down year in terms of offensive production.

Now though, after slimming back down and getting the chance to work with hitting coach Tim Hyers and assistant hitting coach Peter Fatse during the offseason, the club believes that “they’ve been able to get [Benintendi] mechanically back to where he was in 2017 when he hit 20 homers, stole 20 bases and was on base over 35 percent of the time” en route to finishing second in American League Rookie of the Year voting.

After dealing with some adversity and tough injury luck in 2019, Benintendi inked a two-year, $10 million contract extension with Boston in February that essentially buys out his first two seasons of arbitration eligibility.

If baseball is played in 2020, the 25-year-old Cincinnati native will be counted on to be a surefire presence at the top of the Red Sox lineup. Even more so now that Mookie Betts is a Dodger.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m a big Andrew Benintendi guy. Have been for quite awhile. But, from what I’ve seen online, he definitely has plenty of doubters, and what better way to silence those doubters than to put together your best season in the majors in 2020?