By Johnny Sunchips
If someone were to tell me a month ago that come September, the Boston Red Sox,may be without the services of their defacto ace, Clay Buchholz, for the stretch run to post season glory.....it would have been of severe concern.
The crafty 29-year old hurler last took the mound for the BoSox on June 8th, a 7-2 win over the LA Angels, etching his ninnth win in twelve starts without a defeat. With roughly 20 games left in the season, the Red Sox are first in the division with some breathing room. It seems they can, with or without Buchholz, enjoy success into late October.
With starting pitching being a necessary ingredient in any teams post season success, Boston offers a trio that I would pit against any opponent standing in the way. The first is lefty Jon Lester. Although his record is "only" at 13-8, he seems to have regained the form he had early on, where he started the year 6-0. Make no mistake, John Farrell has had a huge impact on Lester, who has always had the make-up of an ace.
He has great command of the strike zone, a "jelly-legging" curve, andat times
a fastball that can clock upwards of 95 MPH. He has on occasion lost focus on the batter, especially if disagreeing with an umpire's call, but lately, he seems to have to found the ability to shake it off. With his head on straight, Lester can carry this team.
Next up is John LackeY; A case study of a "hard luck" pitcher. In 25 games started, Lackey carries a WHIP of 1.17 (10th in the AL), an ERA of 3.22 (11th in the AL) and has limited teams to a batting average against of .250. Yet his win/loss record is a pedestrian 8-12. To date, the Red Sox have been shut out 11
times as a team this year, 6 of those have come when Lackey starts. His performance on the field this season has gone a long way in shedding his "whipping boy" status amongst a loyal Red Sox fan base. There's no reason to think that his consistency cannot carry over into the playoffs.
Finally, we have RHP Jake Peavy. A 12-year veteran who was acquired in a
three team trade in July from the White Sox. In six starts with Boston, four
have been quality. Peavy has given up two runs or less in five of them, going 3-1
with a complete game. If any pitcher were to have a "dirt dog" type demeanor on
the mound,Peavy seems to fit the bill. Teammates love that, and so do fans. His
hunger for a chance to win should not be overlooked.
So here it is, the first week of September. The Red Sox are in the Bronx sporting a 5.5 game lead over Tampa. Clay Buchholz is currently rehabbing...and I'm not concerned. If he is able to come back and regain his early season dominance, it will only help the "old town team."
And if he cannot? Like I said... No problem!
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