Red Sox To Prepare for the Playoffs, Starting Rotation Questions Loom

red sox to prepare for the playoffs

Yay! Hooray! We won the American League East. The team have better had their fill of celebration Friday night, because it is time for the Red Sox to prepare for the playoffs.  I am sure some thoughts on a strategy for the playoffs began on Friday night for John Farrell. He put some players in different positions Saturday, trying this and tweaking that. You never know if do not try. Next week I am confident there will be more players at different positions, so we can put our best foot forward against our first opponent in the post-season.

We have four solid starting pitchers in the starting rotation, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Jon Lester, and Jake Peavy. Farrell and I seem to agree that Felix Doubront and Ryan Dempster do not make the magic happen for the team, so to the bullpen they go. Number five?

One thought would be to have one of the four stronger pitchers at the end of the rotation. Let’s say Lackey moves to #4 spot, and place possibly a Steven Wright in the second place slot. This way when the team makes the turn to the first man in the rotation, either Lester or Buchholz, we have an important game won before moving on to the next game that could clinch a tight series.

Ultimately, fans want to be confident that these four men can lead us to victory.  I realize there is more to the pitching picture than just the four-rotation. For instance, there is the bullpen and the offensive line up to consider. Both are do or die. It is all about putting our best foot forward. Feet are important, as they are the foundation upon which the rest of the Red Sox body rests.

What do you see happening to the state of pitching in the post season?

Has Jake Peavy Stabilized the Five-Man Rotation?

jake peavy

Jake Peavy finally impressed me. It took a visit to Fenway Park, to seem him in person, to win me over. Great velocity, great command during the Saturday, August 31st game against Chicago sealed the deal.

Now, I said I was impressed. Still, I am skeptical. Sources said this wasn’t nearly his best outing. I thought Peavy looked strong on Saturday, which makes sense as he pitches more games for Boston. The numbers with previous teams he played with do not lie. They show a hot and cold record. Perhaps, now, in the right ball club Peavy can really come in to his own. This may be the right team and the right time. “May” being the operative word.

I watched him on Thursday, September 6th against the New York Yankees. He did a solid job, but I felt he needed to be pulled from game in the sixth inning. Peavy cannot go into the seventh due, in part, to his age and to his command. Things got a bit wonky with accuracy at the top of the 7th. The game was not a tight one, so I understand why management left him on the mound. Things got carried away quickly. It was not like we had a 14 run lead.

In conclusion, my skepticism remains intact, but is more specified.  Peavy cannot go into later innings. He cannot go past the 6th inning, or can he?

How does the team ensure that it’s starting pitchers stay on pace for the playoffs?

Was Jake Peavy Worth It?

jake peavy

Courtesy overthemonster.com

I realize it truly remains to be seen, but I will ask the question now: was the trade for Jake Peavy worth it? His last appearance left many fans wondering if it was a good move. Sources said that he had a proven track record of not performing on the road. If the Red Sox knew that, why did we pick him? It isn’t until Peavy has a bad start that we hear the negative. Does that mean he will only be great at home? That won’t get us to the post season with only 20 home games left. He’s scary because he doesn’t have the control we need and he has the potential to be an emotional loose cannon. I like the energy, but too much of a good thing can be dangerous.

We gave away a top prospect in Jose Iglesias for an okay pitcher. Yet, again we grow great talent only to give it away and see it flourish with another team. I said the numbers didn’t add up when the trade took place. He’s meh. Now where does that leave us? In a lot of trouble is where. We have a limping John Lackey, which is unfortunate because he was a sure thing. John Lester right now seems to be pitching all over the place except for inside the strike zone. Felix is okay. And Dempter, is well, Dempster. So where is the added value in Peavy?

This poor pitching paints the Red Sox offense into a corner. They must produce in a big way, early and often. We cannot have tight games like we did with the Royals. Our schedule from here on out is not an easy one. While I am confident John Farrell will figure something out, the truth of the matter is he can only run the ball so far. The players must perform. And Peavy, that means you!

Dempster: The Dud of the Red Sox Five-Man Rotation

red sox five-man rotation

Courtesy of nesn.com

OK, here are the facts: fans can trust that we have good overall pitching in the Red Sox five-man rotation. The top three guys are Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, and John Lackey when he runs hot, which he did on Saturday. I do worry when Felix Doubront and Ryan Dempster pitch. Of the two of them I probably bite my nails more often when Dempster is on the mound. That damn commercial, that runs during games aired on NESN, of him talking about inspiring kids who come to watch ballgames at Fenway just adds insult to injury.

Dempster must improve prior to the middle innings. I doubt that will happen.The team can send him down, or we need a set-up man for those middle innings. Koji Uehara works well in that capacity right now. Koji should be in for more than one inning. I think we could get two out of him in the middle of games. Why haven’t we tried that? Let’s go even deeper. You dig? Why doesn’t Koji pitch his one inning at the end of the game? Meanwhile, another guy fills the setup position, like maybe Alfredo Aceves. Farrell has to try something with Koji and Aceves, or we will continue to lose that one game every rotation.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. Well, different results are not happening. What we need are “Hope and Change.” President Obama may not have been able to deliver on them (yet), but I believe John Farrell can.

What are your thoughts on Dempster’s performance?

Some Possible Replacements for John Lackey

John Lackey

Could this be the guy to fill the #5 spot in the rotation?
Courtesy of blogs.eagletribune.com

Lucky for John Lackey, we are flush with pitchers across all levels of the franchise, from Portland to Boston. Plenty of cooks in the kitchen, but who should be picked to fill out the fifth spot in the rotation as Lackey heals his strained bicep?

From the Boston bullpen, Joel Hanrahan and Alfredo Aceves, are the only two candidates that stand out to me. They are both closers and both used to high pressure situations. However, I do not see them doing more than 3.5 innings at best. No matter, it would give the games they pitch a strong start. Hanrahan has two saves in the current season in as many starts. Career stats include a 1.38 WHIP, and a 2.71 ERA. Interestingly enough, Lackey has a 1.38 WHIP in 2013, too. Perhaps, the numbers are pointing us in Hanrahan’s direction.

The other possibility I see is Aceves. We must watch out for Aceves’ hot head, and, yes I know he did not do so great the other day, but his career stats boast a 1.15 WHIP and an iffy 3.65 ERA. This season his WHIP stands at 1.62, which was the same stat Lackey had in 2011 after 28 games in that season. I think because of his closer’s mentality he would be a good pick.

Call it superstition, but the numbers seem to point in the direction of Hanrahan and Aceves. I think these are some good alternatives for John Farrell to keep in mind. Aceves had some starts in Spring Training with a some success. I think what the clubhouse, and others, fear is Aceves’ emotions getting the best of him. He must be calm, cool, and collected to be an effective starter.

john lackey

Courtesy of the bostonherald.com

The name that stands out on the Pawtucket roster is Steven Wright. We do not have a solid knuckleballer in our starting five. After the departure of Tim Wakefield, I do not think we acquired another person that can change the pace and momentum of the game the way he did. I think baseball players, and athletes of all kinds, thrive on momentum. There is nothing more disruptive than someone throwing a much slower paced ball, when all you want are 95 MPH fastballs.  To start a game at a much slower pace for those hitters facing Wright, would throw teams off their game immediately. Getting in their heads early and often would be fun to watch. Last season Wright helped the PawSox win the Governors’ Cup for the first time in 28 years with a 2.54 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP.

Do you think these guys are likely candidates for Lackey’s place in the rotation? If not, who would you like to see pitching?