Here are the announced Rays and Red Sox lineups and how they should be expected to perform versus the starting pitchers. The wOBA projections are regressed platoon splits calculated using ZiPS RoS projections (note: projections are from early September) and Bojan Koprivica's platoon research.
All statistics come from a wOBA projection tool created by Jason Hanselman and our own Ian Malinowski.
Wil Myers gets his chance at revenge on the MY-ERS chanting Fenway crowd by batting a slot higher in the lineup this afternoon, with extra chances to impact the game.
Maddon is rolling with his most common line up for Game 2, including a slew of right handers against the same-handed John Lackey, who is expected to lean on his 85-mph slider in most high leverage counts.
The decision to bench Matt Joyce (.353 projected wOBA vs Lackey) for Delmon Young may prove to be controversial once again.
Considering Lackey's strengths, Joyce has encountered 196 sliders from RHP's this season and managed to put less that 12% into play, while Young has seen 243 sldiers from righties and put 25% into play. Both players have put half of those sliders batted into the outfield in some fashion, giving Young an edge for batting in runs.
The same trend is true for Young and Joyce facing curveballs, with Joyce being slightly less effective. By the same logic, Joyce exceeds against the fastball from right handed pitching, but Young's zone profile this season against fastballs from righties (map) matches up pretty well for where Lackey is most likely to place the hard stuff (map). Lackey also has a perchance to go high and inside with the fastball against same handed hitters, but we've already seen that's right in Delmon's wheel house.
Red Sox Lineup
The Red Sox have not budged in building their line up, curiously including Ellsbury in lead off. The projections do not favor the decision, but if it ain't broke, Boston doesn't seem interested in changing their approach. Framing expert David Ross will start at catcher.
Zachary Levine talked with Joe Maddon on why he was batting Delmon Young so much lately, even against the traditional logic of a platoon or splits advantage. Maddon had this to say:
If you want to break it down sabermetrically, there's absolutely different righties that he's better against than others. I'll concede that point right now. The thing is with Delmon, right now I believe that he is kind of locked in and I think he's had really good at-bats against some tough right-handers also. If you really want to break down all of our right-handers, there's going to be different right-handed pitchers they're all going to have difficult moments against.
In other words, the hot hand exists! Joyce has had some incredible moments during the year, particularly in a stretch of lead off early in the season. He had a resurgence in August, boasting a 189 wRC+ during that month, but has scraped together a meager 17 wRC+ in September and October this year.
Delmon also has a history of postseason success on his side, this year and previously -- something not so easily quantifiable:
Delmon's really demonstrated the ability to come through in key moments at the end of the season, and I believe in that kind of stuff too beyond numbers. I think that there's a certain group of people that are really able to rise to moments or occasions and he's proven that.
If that's not enough logic to justify the continued benching of Joyce, he knows that and he hears you. Maddon even recognizes that during the season, under normal circumstances, Joyce would have gotten the call:
Of course normally, it would be Matt Joyce over him - I'm just giving you the straight skinny. But right now, I think that Delmon's playing at a different level when it comes to a mental at-bat quite frankly. It's not like I've lost confidence in Matt Joyce, I just think that Delmon's playing at a different level offensively. So we'll find out today.
But it's not just about the batter -- it's about Lackey. And lately, as Levine notes before listing these quotes, Lackey has allowed a better batting line against left-handed hitters this season (vLHB: .238/.285/.374) than he has against righties (vRHB: .258/.297/.463).
You look at John Lackey's body of work - there's a reverse to his numbers this year in particular also. I don't know if I'm right or wrong. I guess nine innings of baseball always show you that or not. But going into the game, I like what Delmon's done more recently.
Couple that with the pitch effectiveness noted above against Joyce and Delmon, and there's an argument to be made.