LOS ANGELES -- Red Sox manager Alex Cora ended the mystery a few hours before Game 4 of the World Series, announcing left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez as his starter.Rodriguez will be making his first start since Sept. 20. His past 10 appearances have been as a reliever, including facing one batter
LOS ANGELES -- Red Sox manager Alex Cora ended the mystery a few hours before Game 4 of the World Series, announcing left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez as his starter.
Rodriguez will be making his first start since Sept. 20. His past 10 appearances have been as a reliever, including facing one batter in Friday night's 18-inning loss.
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But Cora is hoping Rodriguez can be more than an opener. After using every reliever except Thomas Pomeranz in Game 3 -- not to mention starters David Price and Nathan Eovaldi -- Cora gave a different take on his bullpen than expected.
"It's a full go with [Rodriguez] and see where he takes us. And our bullpen, they're rested. The only guy that's not available is Nate," said Cora. "We've still got Drew [from the left side] and the righties all lined up."
Aside from Eovaldi, who pitched six-plus innings to cost him his projected start in Game 4, Cora didn't use any reliever for more than four outs in Game 3.
It is unclear how willing Cora is go to Pomeranz in a pressurized situation. The lefty had a tough regular season (2-6, 6.08 ERA), and he hasn't pitched in a game since Sept. 30. But last year, he was Boston's No. 2 starter, going 17-6. In live batting-practice sessions prior to the World Series, Cora said that Pomeranz was throwing 93-94 mph, which he hadn't been able to do all season due to health issues and mechanical malfunctions. Pomeranz would most likely be used for specific lefty-on-lefty matchups, similar to Rodriguez in his two relief appearances this World Series.
Richard Hembree and Joe Kelly are also candidates to be first up to relieve Rodriguez in what could turn into a bullpen game.
Rodriguez is the first pitcher since the Washington Senators' Firpo Marberry in 1924 to start a World Series game on zero days' rest. On Friday, Rodriguez relieved Boston starter Rick Porcello in the fifth inning and struck out Joc Pederson on six pitches before being pulled ahead of the sixth.
Ace Chris Sale volunteered to take the Game 4 start on three days of rest, and Price -- who started Game 2 in Boston three days ago and retired two batters in Game 3 -- also said he could make the turn. Cora appreciated the offers from his two star lefties, but he declined.
However, Price could again be a factor out of the bullpen in Game 4.
Sale, who has made just one start on short rest -- on May 12, 2012, when he followed up a one-inning relief appearance with the White Sox -- was used out of the bullpen in Boston's American League Division Series-clinching Game 4 win over the Yankees on Oct. 9, when he pitched a scoreless eighth inning to set up closer Craig Kimbrel. It would be surprising if Sale pitches in relief, considering he is on tap to start Sunday in Game 5.
But given Cora's unpredictable usage patterns and all-in approach this October, it wouldn't be unheard of.
"We've still got a game tomorrow, and [we could still have] a Game 6. They'll be lined up," said Cora. "We'll see how it goes today. And if we have a chance to win it again, we'll see how we manage."
Back to Benny
Jackie Bradley Jr. took the best at-bats of any Boston hitter in Game 3, but he was not in the starting lineup for the first time this postseason in Game 4. With lefty Rich Hill starting for the Dodgers, Cora chose to get Andrew Benintendi's bat back in there.
Mookie Betts moved to center and J.D. Martinez -- who started Game 3 in left -- started in right.
And though third baseman Eduardo Nunez has certainly been involved in many ways in this World Series, Game 4 marked his first start of the series. He started in place of Rafael Devers. For the second straight game, Brock Holt got the nod at second base over Ian Kinsler, who made a costly error and got thrown out at the plate in Game 3.
Shifting the outfield
There were numerous times Cora shifted his outfielders mid-inning in Game 3, particularly when Manny Machado was at the plate. The goal was to have Bradley or Betts in the spot the ball would most likely be hit to and lessen the burden on Martinez. You may see more of that at Dodger Stadium over the next two games.
"We were talking about it in the game, starting with Machado. He's going to pull the ball," said Cora. "Jackie has the best arm, Mookie does, too. If he goes the other way, it's by accident. It seems like he's in pull mode. We did that. Certain scenarios, the pull hitters -- there were others that didn't make sense to do it. Like, [Yasiel] Puig goes the other way. [Chris] Taylor goes the other way. There are certain guys that are like dead-pull guys that we felt, right there, we have to take a chance."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.