Thursday, March 27, 2008

Two down, 160 to go

Again, this trip to Japan is definitely odd. The season has started and the Sox are 1-1, but now we go back to playing exhibition games? I'm sorry, but I just don't like that. But, I do like the fact that the Sox are getting a chance to recover a bit from the travel before jumping into the next game.

What happened in game 2? Well, bottom line is the Sox ran into a very good pitcher having a very good day. Rich Harden looked terrific in his 2008 debut, and A's fans should be very happy about that. He more or less mowed down a good hitting lineup. He went 6 innings, striking out 9 batters while only allowing 3 hits. Very impressive. The downside for Harden was the home run to Manny, along with 3 walks. The Sox bats were cooled off enough that they managed only 2 more hits and 4 more strike outs after Harden's exit from the game following the 6th inning. Thirteen strikeouts in one game for the Sox? Not a proud offensive showing.

Lester looked decent and kept the Sox in the game. His control was off enough that batters were able to work the count on him and get his pitch count up, leading to an earlier than desired exit. I like Lester, and I expect he'll be a reasonably reliable 4th or 5th man in the rotation. I don't see him going much beyond that yet, unless he can consistently lock his command down, which he has only shown glimpses of so far.

What to watch for next...

Bartolo Colon will be getting the start in the first exhibition game against the Dodgers. He's still looking good, and a good start in that game may accelerate his time table. As a Sox fan, your biggest worry right now should be who will fill Schilling's spot in the rotation. You have heard that last year's Championship team is nearly untouched, so why not will it all again? Well, without Schilling, the all-important starting rotation has a hole. Last year we had Schilling, Beckett, Dice-K, and Wakefield as the core of the rotation (granted Schilling was injured for a period of time, but follow along for a minute). The 5th spot was filled admirably by Tavares and then Lester in September. Without Schilling, we need to rely on someone like Clay Bucholz to step up. But, as a rookie, I'd look for him to be a 4th or 5th man in the rotation. That bumps Wakefield up to 3rd in the rotation.

So, to me, Colon could turn the season around. If he gets back to even close to his potential, he clearly fits in as either the number 2 or 3 man, leaving Wake in the 4th slot, and allowing more flexibility for Francona to work the hot hand into the 5th slot. With an effective Colon added to the rotation, the Sox would have the nod over the Yankees on pitching. Without him, it's a draw.

I never thought I'd be cheering for Colon. Times change.


Anonymous said...

Fun blog/title :D

Rooster said...

Thanks! I hope you keep stopping by. Should be another fun season.

Anonymous said...

I will :) I also just posted a bunch of photos of Fenway Park (and Boston) if you're interested in looking at them on this off game day!

Rooster said...

Where are they posted, I'll check them out.

Peter N said...

I too love the blog...the color scheme is great!