Given how badly the season ended for them in 2011 and just how bad they were in 2012, there were little to no expectations for Boston. They then proceeded to win their division and by quite a bit. One of the reasons why they were able to play at such a high level was their starting rotation. They are facing a very tough competitor in the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS.
They match up well against Boston, but the Red Sox have the edge in their rotation.
The Red Sox have a rotation that is so deep that two of their pitchers who were mainstays for them all year won’t be starting. Ryan Dempster is in the bullpen and Felix Doubront is ending up there as well. With the acquisition of Jake Peavy and the return of a healthy Clay Buchholz, Boston has a strong foursome in their rotation that can compete with anyone.
Jon Lester and John Lackey have both pitched clinching games in their careers, and all four starting pitchers for the Red Sox have postseason experience. That can be a huge advantage because the postseason is such a different experience from the regular season with significantly more pressure.
Tampa Bay’s rotation is very good. David Price, Alex Cobb, Jeremy Hellickson, Chris Archer and Matt Moore can hold their own with just about anyone. Price pitched an incredible tiebreaker game and has had Boston’s number this season. Cobb pitched very well in the Wild Card game but is inexperienced.
I like Archer a lot — he has a fantastic arm, but he is very emotional on the mound. He reminds me sometimes of Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd or Mark Fidyrich. This can be used to Boston’s advantage and they could try to get him rattled — use his excitement and energy against him.
Tampa Bay has lot of guys with swing and miss stuff and they have lefties, which sometimes gives Boston problems. I was really pulling for Cleveland because Boston matched up better against them.
Based on their postseason experience, veteran presence and depth, Boston will have the better rotation. The postseason is just that much of a different experience and veteran pitching historically does better. However, Boston’s bats will have a lot of work to do.