Will Sweep in Toronto Jump-Start Red Sox Rotation?


Will Sweep in Toronto Jump-Start Red Sox Rotation? The Red Sox rotation has the third-worst ERA in the American League. Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and John Lackey entered the season as Boston's aces, but Clay Buchholz has been the team's No. 1 starter so far.

Buchholz has allowed three or fewer earned runs in each of his four starts this season, proving his worth to the Sox' rotation and making Terry Francona's decision to move Tim Wakefield to the bullpen that much more difficult.

The 25-year-old Buchholz showed his dominance in his most recent start, allowing one earned run in eight innings in the Sox' 2-1 victory in Toronto on Tuesday.

Buchholz' start could be a sign of things to come for the Red Sox, and may be just what the team needed to jump-start a rotation that has struggled to start the season.

The rotation showed its potential in Toronto, not only from Buchholz's dominance, but also from Lester's start the following day. The left-hander pitched seven shutout innings and struck out 11 to help Boston earn its first series sweep of the season.

Lester entered Wednesday’s start with a 6.23 ERA, but showed Boston's starters are capable of putting together back-to-back quality starts.

Can Lackey make it three in a row against the Orioles?

Lackey will make his second consecutive start against the O's on Friday. Lackey's 5.09 ERA has been disappointing, but a quality start at Camden Yards could help him turn his season around at the right time.

After the three-game set in Baltimore, the Red Sox return home to face a tough stretch that includes the Angels and Yankees before taking on the Tigers, Twins, Phillies and Rays later in the month. The Sox will need all five starters to pitch well if they hope to make up ground on Tampa Bay and New York in the AL East.  

Daisuke Matsuzaka will make his season debut Saturday, and a start against the Orioles could be just what the right-hander needs to begin his season well. Matsuzaka went 2-0 in three starts against the Orioles in 2008, holding O's hitters to a .215 batting average.

A healthy Matsuzaka has shown he can dominate opposing hitters, something he will need to do consistently if the Sox hope to keep pace with the division front-runners.

Matsuzaka isn't the only starter who will need to show consistency. The final piece to the Sox' rotation puzzle could be the most important: Josh Beckett. The righty has plenty to prove this season, not only because he has the highest ERA among Red Sox starters, but also to validate the four-year, $68 million extension he signed at the start of the season.

Sunday's start in Baltimore provides Beckett an excellent opportunity to right his ship and also help the Red Sox' rotation maintain momentum. The veteran is 5-1 with a 3.04 ERA in eight career starts at Camden Yards, and a strong outing against the O's could be just the boost he needs to regain his swagger.

Buchholz and Lester gave fans a preview of the team's rotation potential. Can Lackey, Dice-K and Beckett keep delivering?

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