BOSTON — The Red Sox are shaking up their rotation for the ALCS.
Jon Lester will still take the ball in Game 1 on Saturday, but Clay Buchholz will start Game 2 in Boston on Sunday. John Lackey will start Game 3 in Detroit on Tuesday, while Jake Peavy will toe the bump in Game 4 on Wednesday.
The difference between the Red Sox’ ALCS rotation and the rotation used in the ALDS resides in the middle spots. Lackey pitched Game 2 in Boston during the Red Sox’ ALDS versus the Rays, while Buchholz pitched Game 3 in Tampa Bay. John Farrell said Friday that he was encouraged by how Buchholz threw the ball in Game 3, and that he thinks the new rotation gives the Red Sox the best chance to gain an early edge against the Tigers.
“Just we had some extra days to adjust, without bringing anyone back on short rest. We felt like with Clay falling in behind Jon, it gives us a contrast of style,” Farrell said. “And that would be the case with John Lackey as well. But felt like we could get additional work done with Lackey today. I thought Clay threw the ball well in his start down in Tampa. That’s not to say John Lackey’s outing here was less than. He pitched us to a win again Tampa in Game 2. But with the rotation going forward the first two days we feel good about where we are.”
Lackey earned a victory over the Rays in Game 2 of the ALDS, but was forced to grind through the outing. He gave up four runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings, and the Red Sox won 7-4. Buchholz didn’t factor in the decision in Game 3, but was sharp for the most part. He gave up three runs on seven hits in six innings — with all three runs coming on a three-run homer by Evan Longoria.
Lackey was much better at home during the regular season than he was away from Fenway Park. He went 6-3 with a 2.47 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in 13 home starts, and went 4-10 with a 4.48 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in 16 road starts. Given that Comerica Park is a large, pitcher-friendly ballpark, however, the splits aren’t as much of a factor. Lackey is 4-1 with a 3.83 ERA in six career starts at Comerica.
The bigger concern for Lackey might be the layoff. It’ll now be 10 days between starts for Lackey, who admitted after his last start that he needed to shake off some rust following a lengthy layoff between his final start of the regular season and his first start of the postseason. The Red Sox are trying to mitigate that concern by having Lackey pitch to live hitters on Friday.
“I feel like we can get some live work against some hitters that will take place towards the end of today’s workout,” Farrell said Friday. “The game that John pitched over in Detroit earlier in the year, he threw the ball well in Detroit as well. We just feel like with the alignment that we have, it gives us the best opportunity to hopefully take control of the series.”
Lackey gave up two runs on seven hits over seven innings in Detroit on June 20.
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