With 18 games left in the regular season, the Red Sox have a magic number of 15 to win the AL East. On the cusp of a nine game road trip, they are trying to build their four game lead over the Yankees.
Most first place teams have a solid idea of what their playoff rotation is. The Red Sox, however, are only sure about starters one and two.
GAME 1 STARTER: Chris Sale
The favorite to win the AL Cy Young award, Sale can almost guarantee a Red Sox win every time he starts. His deathly slider can make hitters look foolish. He will get a taste of postseason action for the first time. Sale is currently 16-7 with a 2.76 ERA and a career high 278 strikeouts. He is the sole reason the Red Sox are leading the East. I am pumped to see Sale start his first postseason game.
GAME 2 STARTER: Drew Pomeranz
Drew Pomeranz was in the bullpen last postseason. The home run he allowed to Coco Crisp in Game 3 was the difference. Cleveland swept the Sox and went within a win of the World title. Pomeranz has been a surprise this year, but has been huge. He has a 15-5 record with a 3.35 ERA. The 15 wins are four wins higher than his career high he set last year. Though some critics have the Game 2 starter in question, I believe he has certainly earned this designation.
GAME 3 STARTER: ???
Injuries and inconsistencies have really kept the back end of the rotation in question. If the Red Sox get home field advantage in the first round, who will start their first road game? With Cleveland’s streak, a Houston-Boston first round match-up seems likely.
You would think that former Cy Young winner Rick Porcello would be one or two. But his roller coaster season may find him in the bullpen in October. He his currently 9-17 with a 4.64 ERA as his run support has disappeared this season. His problem has been allowing home runs (35 this year). That one stat could keep him in the bullpen come postseason. He does have some playoff experience, but coupled with a rocky Game 1 last season. (Career Postseason: 3 GS, 9 appearances, 0-3, 5.66 ERA)
Fister joined the Red Sox in late June when David Price’s nagging elbow injury pushed him back to the disabled list. Since his first start June 25th, Fister has a 5-7 record with a 3.91 ERA. He had a few bullpen appearances, when Price officially went down, Fister took his spot. However, since August 22nd against Cleveland, Fister has been on a roll. He is 3-1 with just a 1.50 ERA. The recent run he has been on could possibly slot him in for a Game 3 start. Experience wise, Fister is has a 4-2 career postseason record with a 2.60 ERA. Also, starting a right-hander after two lefties may not be a bad idea.
The 24-year-old left-hander is 5-5 this season with a 4.19 ERA. Like Porcello, he has been up and down all season. Also, his win-loss record has partly been a result of lack of run support. After a no-decision and two straight losses, E-Rod dazzled on September 5th going six innings allowing two-earned in a win against the Blue Jays. He shined again last night allowing just one run on one hit in six strong innings vs. the A’s. Rodriguez though, has never pitched in the postseason. Could he dazzle in Game 3? Sure. Could he suck? Just as possible.
The man who should be the Game 2 starter, Price is still working his way back from an elbow injury.
David Price was impressive in a two-inning simulated game yesterday as the Red Sox weigh his chances of returning. https://t.co/n5jHXS50X2
— Boston Globe Sports (@BGlobeSports) September 10, 2017
The impressive simulated game this past Saturday gives hope to Red Sox nation that Price can return before the playoffs. Amidst all of the drama, Price is needed for the Sox to make a postseason run. According to Rob Bradford from WEEI, Price will throw another simulated game either today or tomorrow. Price was able to throw all four of his pitches with good intensity. With a few more simulations, the return for Price to the rotation could possibly get him one start before the end of the season.
Off and on this season, Price is 5-3 with a 3.82 ERA in just 66 innings of work this season. He has not pitched since July 22nd, a 7-3 loss to the Angels where he allowed five earned runs in five innings. The Sox are taking their time in his return, hoping he returns to the playoffs as healthy as possible.
Price’s postseason record does not give Sox fans much confidence that he could be successful even when healthy. He is just 2-8 with a 5.54 ERA. (0-8 in nine postseason starts) Last year in Game 2 against Cleveland, he allowed five earned in just 3.1 innings pitched. The experience is there, but does Sox nation want him in the playoff rotation?
What does Twitter think?
Who should be the Red Sox game 3 starter in the postseason? (Game 4 to 2nd highest)
— Boston Sports Report (@BSR_Official_) September 12, 2017
Twitter says that Doug Fister should start Game 3. I designated the second-highest vote-getter, Rick Porcello, as the Game 4 starter. I would have to agree with these results. Throwing Price and E-Rod in there gives four lefties, which can be an advantage or disadvantage depending on the other team’s lineup. Also, Price has come out if the bullpen before in the postseason. A powerful left-hander out of the pen might be a good thing for the Sox.
All this talk is getting me pumped for the postseason. Hopefully the Sox can lock down the AL East sooner than later. Also, if they can lock down home field advantage in the ALDS, a trip to the ALCS is very well a possibility.
- David Price: Image Via Arturo Pardavila III - Flickr