Boston Red Sox bench player, Josh Rutledge, has been a bright spot for the team this season as a reliable option off the bench. With the Sox struggling to hit left handed pitchers this season, Rutledge’s ability to do so is invaluable to this team.
The Sox as a team this season have struggled mightily against left handed pitchers, hitting just .226 as a team with a meager three home runs in 186 at bats. Rutledge has provided the team with a reliable bat against lefties this season, hitting .625 thus far, albeit in a small sample size, just eight at bats. He has shown improvement against left handers throughout his young career. In his first two seasons, he hit just .247 as a rookie and then .196 against them in his second year. The last two years have provided a different story as Josh Rutledge has come around picking up pitches from lefties, hitting .321 in 2014 followed by .318 last season and now off to the strong start this year. Coming off the bench primarily, Rutledge is the preferred option when a left handed specialist comes into the game.
In Friday night’s game, Josh Rutledge was called upon to pinch hit for catcher Christian Vazquez against New York Yankees left handed relief pitcher, Andrew Miller. Miller is one of the best all around relievers in the business and Rutledge furthered the notion that he has figured out lefties by ripping a single up the middle off of Miler to start the ninth inning. If Rutledge continues hitting like this, he might find himself starting at third base when the team is facing a southpaw. Sox starting third baseman Travis Shaw is hitting just .083 against lefties and is a big part of the team’s struggles against them. John Farrell should consider inserting Rutledge in the starting lineup at third base for Shaw against left handers. However, until Farrell realizes that this is the right move, Rutledge will continue to provide the team with offense off of the bench as a pinch hitter.