Red Sox rookie Michael Chavis will keep seeing high fastballs until he hits them


NEW YORK -- Your turn, Michael Chavis.

The rookie slugger cruised through his first month in the big leagues, blasting 10 home runs and driving in more runs in his first 20 games (19) than all Red Sox players ever except Ted Williams and George Scott (20 apiece).

But teams have settled on a very clear approach with the rookie, attacking him with elevated fastballs, and Chavis is officially scuffling. He's 0 for 6 with five strikeouts in two games vs. the Yankees this weekend, and since hitting his last homer on May 22, is mired in a 6-for-34 slump (.176) with no extra-base hits.

The game plan of Boston's two biggest rivals hasn't been fancy. Both the Astros and Yankees have located 95 mph fastballs at and above the top of the strike zone, and Chavis has been unable to lay off or catch up.

He's hitting just .212 vs. pitches of at least 94 mph this season, and his average drops to .150 (3 for 20) vs. fastballs of 95 mph and up, per Baseball Savant.

"There are certain teams that have special fastballs and we faced the last three weekends two of those teams, and you can see where they're going," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said before Sunday's series finale at Yankee Stadium. "Actually, he put a good at-bat against (J.A.) Happ. That was one of the matchups that we were like, 'Oh, he's going up there,' and he actually didn't, but the Astros and the Yankees, they've got special fastballs. Probably some other teams are going to try to do that."

The question is how Chavis adjusts. After managing the strike zone through his first month by laying off high fastballs and drawing walks -- 14 in his first 18 games -- Chavis has walked just four times in his last 18 games while striking out 27 times.

The days of trying to sneak sliders over the plate are over, because Chavis murders hanging breaking balls. Instead, he has faced raw power from the likes of Astros starters Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, as well as the Yankees bullpen.

"Not everybody throws 97 with hop, so it's just one of those that they're going to a spot and sometimes you want to get on top of that pitch and you don't," Cora said. "Sometimes you're better off just being disciplined up in the zone and right now he's not. He was getting walks, lately he hasn't walked I think in a while if I'm not mistaken, so that's an indication, like I've always said. Walks tell you a lot about where the hitter is and we talk about Raffy (Devers) early in the season and he was walking and controlling the strike zone. Right now, (Chavis) is not controlling the strike zone."

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