It is almost a cruel joke at this point. Coming out of the All-Star break, the Boston Red Sox have the best record in baseball and get to face a banged up rival in the New York Yankees, but there are more concerns than the start of the season when many had the Red Sox picked as the third or fourth best team in the AL East.
Just looking at the rotation for a three game set against the Yankees, the same team the Red Sox opened the season against, is enough to make any Sox fan feel bipolar.
Going into the season, expectations for the season were tempered, but there was plenty of cautious optimism in the pitching staff with new manager and former pitcher coach John Farrell back in Boston. Red Sox fans knew that if anyone could get John Lester and Clay Buccholz back to ace-like form, it was Farrell. Lester and Buccholz got the first two starts of the season, both wins. In the third game, new addition and quality innings eater, Ryan Dempster got the nod, and the win.
Fast forward 94 games, and the Red Sox have played better than anyone expected and have a league best 58 wins and get to face the Yankees. Then you look at the three probable starters and high hopes suddenly tank.
After four days off, the Red Sox can presumably roll out their top three starters in order, so let’s take a look at who they will start. Felix Dubront will start the first game. Nothing against Dubront, he has had an alright season, for a fourth or fifth starter, but him headed to the bump to start the second half is enough to take the wind out of any fan’s sails. Then, arguably the Red Sox top pitcher from the first half, John Lackey will take on the Yankees, but Lackey is as up and down in Sox fan’s hearts as any pitcher of the past decade. The guy who will pitch the rubber match is a former ace that, if not for name value, has pitched poorly enough to be removed from many rotations in Jon Lester.
Clay Buccholtz is the one guy that has been reliable every time he takes the mound, only he hasn’t been out there since early June, and from the broken record that is the Red Sox medical staff, Buccholz has had yet another set-back.
This team may just have the most question marks for any team leading the league in wins at the break in history.