John Farrell keeps pinch hitting for Travis Shaw. That on its own isn’t exactly shocking. But, the fact that’s he’s doing it so early is.
For some reason, Farrell named Shaw his starting third baseman out of Spring Training. It’s was the wrong move, but he made it anyway. He also has Shaw batting sixth in the order.
So, why on earth are you pinch hitting for your number six hitter in the sixth inning?
I mean, is he one of your best hitters, or not?
Like I said, bringing in a pinch hitter is fine. If it’s a tight game in the eighth inning, and the match-up isn’t great. That’s a time to use your bench to your advantage. But, the sixth inning? At that point the substitute is seeing as much action as the starter. What gives?
Someone finally asked Farrell about it. He responded that he needed to get Chris Young some at-bats. He has Shaw and Holt back to back as lefties, he thought it’d make sense to put Shaw in for one of them when a lefty reliever came in. But, if he took out Holt, then Holt couldn’t play the infield on a switch. So, he takes out Shaw.
Of course, that’s a lie. Because, if he took out Holt, he wouldn’t need Holt to play the infield. The infield would still have all the starters in it. (As a side note, I think it’s funny that’s he’s using the fact that he’s starting his utility player in the outfield as an excuse to make another bad decision.)
So, what’s going on here?
He’s covering for Shaw.
He knows he needs Shaw to perform well. He made a huge move by starting Shaw as a way to save his job. Shaw can’t come out and hit .190. So, he needs to limit Shaw’s chances to make outs. If someone brings in a lefty reliever get him out of there. Even if it’s leading off the sixth. He needs to limit damage. After all, people are already wondering on Twitter what happened to Shaw’s supposed power. He can’t afford to have the average drop as well. Otherwise, people are really going to (correctly) wonder why Panda’s sitting there on the bench. After all, when talking about Young, Farrell points out that over his long career he's been a better hitter against lefties than Shaw. It doesn't matter that Shaw hit lefties slightly better last year. People are going to wonder why Panda didn't get the same treatment.
He made the move to try and save his job. Now he has to stick with it.
And it’s all about damage control.