Rangers Present Red Sox With More Frightening Playoff Task Than Justin Verlander, Tigers

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Rangers Present Red Sox With More Frightening Playoff Task Than Justin Verlander, Tigers The Red Sox finally picked up a much-needed win in Texas on Tuesday night to draw even with the Yankees in the AL East.

As the competition — and the Texas weather — heats up, the fans have questions. Let's get to them now.

Who would you rather face in the playoffs: the Tigers or Rangers?
–Stan, Nashua, N.H.

I would rather face the Detroit Tigers. Yes, they are very good, but after Justin Verlander, I am not overly scared of the rest of their rotation. The Texas Rangers, on the other hand, scare me. Their pitching staff and their well-balanced lineup are powerful and will be a tall task, especially in a short series where anything can happen. I think Texas would be very tough. The Rangers' experience last year as AL pennant winners really helps as well. They are now experienced at winning. This group has scared me since the opening series of 2011.

Is Andrew Miller a viable option in the pen in the fall?
–Rick, Marshfield, Mass.

I would say yes. It was pretty impressive what he did in Kansas City, especially with the amount of time off he had in between starts. He has worked hard to minimize the walks. Obviously, in a relief role, he has to be able to diminish the walk totals. I think he could give you innings, as can Alfredo Aceves, but from the left side. It's good to have a long man out there in case and he fits the bill. Right now, all you have is Franklin Morales as a lefty option, so it does not hurt to have another. The only issue that may remain is how quickly he can get ready as a reliever now and not having the extra time a starter does. He'll start this week, but down the road, he could be in the pen exclusively.

How has Erik Bedard fit in?
–Sandy, Boston

I think so far so good. His reputation was not the best in Baltimore and in Seattle. Most of the bad comments about him were from media members. He has said all the right things and done all the right things since he has been here. He has been very pleasant to the broadcasters and appears to be just one of the guys with the starting staff. So I think a lot of that — at least early on — appears to be very overrated. He is like the rest of the starting staff in that he talks to the media after he pitches. So far, he has fit in just fine and leads you to wonder if people get labeled too quickly sometimes.

When J.D  drew returns will he be relegated to the bench?
–Michael, Cohasset, Mass.

I don't think so. I think Terry Francona always does a good job of keeping the bench players fresh. I also think that Josh Reddick has cooled off some and there will be a platoon of sorts with Terry riding the hot hand. I am still sort of hopeful that J.D. can go on one of those tears where he dominates again. Maybe a well-rested, healthy Drew could go on that run in September. I am also a believer in postseason experience, and J.D. certainly has that.

What concerns you the most heading down the stetch?
–Ben, Cleveland

Health. We saw last year how quickly your roster can change when a few key injuries occur to a few key players. Even this weekend when the Sox were without David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis and Jacoby Ellsbury, they had success but the lineup was nowhere as powerful as it would need to be in the postseason against good teams and good pitching. Health is the most important part of what could be a championship run. The Red Sox are as good if not better than any team in the majors if they are injury-free.

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