It is no surprise that the Boston Red Sox, having had time to set up their starting rotation just the way they wanted it, would start Jon Lester in game 1 of the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays. This will not be an easy out, open and shut type of game for Lester and the Red Sox however. They are about to go to war with a team that has been on an absolute tear for the last few weeks. They wouldn’t even be in the ALDS if they hadn’t been beating everyone in their path. Lester might be equal to the task but it will not be easy.
Lester is 2 – 1 against the Rays this year but his ERA is over 4. Most of that damage came in one start in Tampa where he gave up several runs in a short outing. That is unlikely to happen tonight but it certainly could. After all he gave up 12 runs on 28 hits over 25 innings against the Rays during the 2013 regular season. This isn’t the regular season though. As far as Lester in the postseason, that could go either way as well.
The Red Sox lost the ALCS to the Rays the last time they faced them in the playoffs and during that series in 2008 Lester gave up 8 runs to the Rays over 12.2 innings. This team that Lester will face tonight is on fire. The Red Sox have been resting which is good but there could be a tad of rust on them after such a long wait.
If the long wait for Lester and the Sox affects them adversely it will only be during the first game of the series. That is important in such a short series but the biggest opponent for Lester and the Sox will not be any of that but rather the hot starting staff of the Rays. I would predict a close game defeat for Lester in the opener but we’ll see how well he comes out of the gate.