The Boston Red Sox have finally moved on from Blake Swihart, designating him for assignment. In a corresponding move, Sandy Leon is coming back to Boston.
The Boston Red Sox pitching staff, particularly their rotation, has struggled mightily this season. Heading into action on Tuesday, the Red Sox rotation has a 7.18 ERA, the worst in the majors. Chris Sale and Rick Porcello have been a disaster, failing to win any of their starts. Something needed to be done.
The Red Sox were looking to get more offense from the catcher position, and Swihart has been known as a bat first catcher. In his 29 plate appearances this season, he has posted a .231/.310/.385 batting line, hitting a home run and driving in four runs. Leon, meanwhile, had produced a meager .120/.154/.120 batting line in 26 plate appearances at AAA Pawtucket.
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However, this move is about getting the pitching staff right. Red Sox pitchers, particularly Sale, have raved about Leon’s ability to call a game and handle the staff. This is a matter of bringing back that comfort level, about trying to salvage the 2019 campaign before it gets away. Perhaps it is not a surprise that Leon will be in the lineup Tuesday night, catching Sale in his first game back.
Given the woes of the pitching staff in general, it is not fair to place the blame squarely on one player. Swihart is being scapegoated for those struggles, being let go due to their inability to get anyone out. However, there is no questioning that he is not the defensive presence that Leon is.
Chances are, Swihart will not pass through waivers. His ability to play in the outfield, at first, and behind the plate gives him value. Likewise, Swihart can hit, making him an intriguing utility option for any team. That team just will not be the Red Sox, as he is not the answer to their starting pitching problem.
The Boston Red Sox have addressed their rotation by bringing back Sandy Leon and designating Blake Swihart for assignment. Now, the pitchers need to show that was all they needed. There are no more excuses.