Jonny Gomes is getting the start in left field for the Boston Red Sox in Game 3 of the ALCS, and the numbers say that is a huge mistake. Daniel Nava should get the start.
Manager John Farrell likes the intangibles that Gomes brings to the lineup, which is all well and good, but when facing Justin Verlander, intangibles aren’t worth a whole lot. In his career, Gomes is 0/9 with three walks against Verlander, while Nava is 1/3 with a walk and a double. Yes, this screams small sample, but Nava has at least had a taste of success against Verlander.
During the regular season, Gomes hit just .247, but came through with 13 home runs in 116 games, while Nava hit .303 with 12 long balls in 134 games. After having just three hits the first 16 innings of the ALCS, a guy that can hit for average is key, rather than a guy that can hit for power. So far this postseason, Nava is hitting .250, but has a .455 on-base percentage in his three games, while Gomes is hitting .231 and reaching base a third of the time in his five games.
Nava is a better average and on base option added to a better fielder, which should have made it an easy decision to make Nava the starter. That said, Gomes has found a way to score four of the six times he has been on base this postseason.
Shane Victorino is the only other starter in the Red Sox starting lineup to not have a hit against Verlander.