American League Division Series tickets for the Red Sox went on sale yesterday at noon. I am pleased to announce that I will be attending Game 2 of the ALDS. This is a huge deal for me, since when I lived in Iowa, attending a Red Sox playoff game was never really an option.
The Red Sox will start the division at home, and it has not been announced who they will be playing. Depending on how the records wind up on Sunday, the Red Sox will either be playing the A's, Tigers, or one of the Wild Card teams. More than likely, it appears the Red Sox will be playing the Tigers or a Wild Card team, as the A's are only a game back for the best record in the American League.
There are now four games left for the season. The Red Sox's record is at 95-63. While winning 100 games is out of the question now, having the best record in the American League is still very doable (as mentioned, the Sox are currently a game up on the A's). The Red Sox also currently have the best record in the Major's, a huge improvement from last year's 69-93 season.
The playoffs officially start Tuesday, October 1st with the National League Wild Card game, and the American League Wild Card game will follow on Wednesday, October 2nd. The Wild Card game is new this season, as two wild card teams per division will battle in a one-game playoff to find out who continues. The NLDS will begin Thursday, October 3rd, and the ALDS will begin Friday, October 4th.
There's been some speculation about who the Red Sox will go with for their rotation in the ALDS. I think it's pretty safe to say that Lester will be the Game 1 starter. Lester is 15-8 with a 3.67 ERA; his last start, Friday, not only clinched the AL East for the Sox, it was also his 100th career win. Lester's ERA was as high as 4.60 on July 8th, but it has steadily been been declining. In 13 games at home this season, Lester has a 3.09 ERA, compared to a 4.09 ERA in 19 away starts.
Personally, I'd rather see Lackey go Game 2. Lackey's been probably the most consistent throughout the season. His season ERA is 3.52, which is remarkable considering he didn't pitch last season while recovering from surgery. I would pitch Lackey Game 2 because his home numbers (13 games, 2.47 ERA, 1.033 WHIP) are so much better than his away numbers (16 games, 4.48 ERA, 1.271 WHIP).
Game 3 will be away and played on Monday. The choice for starter for this game could be interesting, as it could go to either Buchholz or Peavy. I think a lot will depend on how well Buchholz and Peavy pitch their last starts. Peavy pitches tonight against the Rockies, and Buchholz will pitch Friday against the Orioles.
Buchholz, though injured for 2 months, has been phenomenal this season. In 15 starts, he has a 11-1 record, a 1.60 ERA, and 1.026 WHIP. Buchholz's last start, against the Blue Jays, wasn't as impressive as previous starts (6.0 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 106 pitch count), but he's been dominant most of the season.
Peavy has been consistent while on the Red Sox. Since coming from the White Sox, Peavy has a 3.68 ERA and a 1.074 WHIP. His home stats (7-0 record, 2.73 ERA, 0.973 WHIP) are considerably better than his away stats (4-5 record, 5.09 ERA, 1.224 WHIP). Despite this, Peavy isn't the "Ace" of this team or has only been with the team for the past 3 months.
Choosing the Game 3 starter is important, as this pitcher could potentially clinch the ALCS birth for the Red Sox. I'm going to say that it'll be Buchholz, and Farrell will bring Peavy out for Game 4 on Tuesday. Essentially, the Game 3 and Game 4 starters will have the same job- get the job done away from Fenway Park.
Make sure to check back this Friday for Twitter Friday. Next week, I'll have more about my trip to Baltimore on Saturday and discussions about the playoffs.