Saturday, September 27, 2008

Next Stop, Anaheim

This my be the first time in history where the Red Sox were eliminated from contention for the Division Title by Mother Nature. With the terrible weather, late start, and iffy field conditions, Terry Francona opted to NOT pitch his intended starter, Daisuke Matsuzaka. Now, if you do not want to risk harm and wear to a valuable pitching commodity, who do you send out to the mound? David Pauley, of course.

Mother NatureEven though the Yankees have already been eliminated, they are still a dangerous team, and sending David Pauley out there was a little bit of sending David to face Goliath, but taking David's slingshot away first. As you might predict, Pauley did not even get past the 3rd inning, allowing 7 runs (6 earned). It went downhill from there. The way I look at it, Tito may possibly have subtly informed us of which pitchers are either NOT going to be on the post-season roster, or at least the pitchers who are on the fence. Check out who pitched yesterday:

David Pauley, 2 2/3 innings, 6 hits, 7 runs
David Aardsma, 2/3 inning, 3 hits, 5 runs
Mike Timlin, 1 2/3 innings, 3 hits, 1 run
Chris Smith, 1 2/3 innings, 3 hits, 3 runs
Devern Hansack, 2 1/3 inning, 5 hits, 3 runs

Sounds like we just weeded out all the pitchers who are not ready to help win in the playoffs. Had Mother Nature not interfered, Dice-K would have started, and the results, while not necessarily a win, certainly would have been better. But, regardless of pitching, Tito was already pulling back on the reins. Dustin Pedroia, Jason Varitek, and David Ortiz were all given the night off to recharge.

As we head into the playoffs, I reiterate that Mike Lowell and JD Drew are the keys to watch. Lowell tried to DH last night but re-aggravated his hip with just one at bat and had to leave the game. Lowell's absence weakens the offensive lineup, and it jumbles the infield. Sean Casey and Mark Kotsay are simply not the defensive gems at first that Youk is. And Youk, while adequate, has been away from 3rd too long to field the position as well as Lowell. The best move is to put Jed Lowrie at third, but that leaves Alex Cora at shortstop. Cora fields short reasonably well, and while he has his hot moments at the plate, he is not a big offensive threat.

JD Drew's defense is very good in right, but using our backup outfielders, we do not get a big drop off in defense. What we miss is the bat Drew was swinging in June. Imagine the JD Drew we saw in June along with the Mike Lowell we saw in last year's playoffs added into the lineup with Big Papi, Youk, Pedroia and Jason Bay. Pretty solid lineup.

I think the Sox' pitching is in good shape, and should be able to keep the Sox in contention. But, with both Lowell and Drew out, we may find them struggling to score enough runs to win a series. Wednesday it all begins out in Anaheim.


Fenway West said...

The injury to Lowell really sucks at this point in the season. At least Lowrie is getting out of his funk. I think Lester deserves to start game 1 but it will probably go to Beckett.

Rooster said...

Way true about Lowell.

Beckett and Dice-K should be the starters in LA. Dice-K is 9-0 with a 2.37 ERA on the road, while Lester is 11-1 at home with a 2.49 ERA, but he's only 5-5 with a 4.09 ERA on the road.

Pitch them where their strengths lie.

Peter N said...

Westward-ho! I expect Josh in game one Wed. and Jon for game two on Friday. We'll see, won't we?

Rooster said...

Peter, I really think I'd rather see Lester pitch game 3 in Fenway. Not trying to rank them in order or anything, just trying to put them where they'll likely win. Dice-K has a better record on the road, and Lester's record is way better at home. So, I think we pitch Josh in game 1, Dice-K in game 2 in LA, and then Lester in game 3 in Fenway.

Game 4 won't matter after we sweep, right? lol