The Boston Red Sox coaching staff has come out and said they will give their starting pitchers some extra days off down the stretch to keep them fresh for the playoffs, and it is the right thing to do.
Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jake Peavy and Felix Doubront will all be given an extra days rest, or even have a start skipped, at some point this September.
This will be a great benefit come playoff time. With the Red Sox expected to lock up the division as early as the end of the week, but more likely the middle of next week, they are afforded the freedom to manipulate the rotation for the playoffs.
In addition to the days off to keep the arms fresh, the Red Sox will be able to adjust the order of the rotation to set themselves up to ensure their ace, whoever they end up determining it to be, gets the ball in Game 1 of the first series.
The one person not expected to get an extra day off is a guy who will take the mound in a Boston Red Sox jersey for the first time in three months, Clay Buchholz. The Red Sox want to get him four starts before the playoffs kick off, and will certainly manage his pitch count in the first couple of those starts.
Then, when the playoffs come, manager John Farrell will have the best problem a manager can have, choosing which of the three deserving pitchers will get the ball Game 1.
If Buchholz had not missed the past three months due to injury, he would be the easy choice, and his candidacy for Game 1 will be based largely on how he looks in his four starts.
There was a point in the season Lester appeared to be more of a liability rather than an ace, but those days are behind him, his cutter is back, and his fastball velocity is up. He is a real Game 1 option.
The final option is Lackey, who has been the most consistent pitcher for the Red Sox this season. He just hasn’t received any run support, which is reflected in his losing record. Although he has more wins than losses, Lackey has given the Red Sox a chance to win every time out, and that is something you want from an ace.
Regardless of who pitches Game 1, the Red Sox are primed and ready for a deep run in October.