Terrry Francona did the expected and named Jon Lester the opening day starter. Today, we find out how the rest of the rotation will initially look, and it is a little surprising.
John Lackey, Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka will be numbers 2 through 5 at the outset, Francona said. That news did not come as a surprise to any of them. Francona said he has known for some time that this is how he wanted to line them up, but did not go public with it in the event someone got hurt.
Even with an off-day in Cleveland April 4, Francona said he will not alter the order, which puts Lackey in line to pitch the home opener on April 8 against the New York Yankees.
"Lackey has a way of matching up against whoever he's pitching against,'' Francona said, "whether it's a No. 1 or No. 5, you look up in the seventh inning you have a chance to win, which we really like.
"Buck did so good. I think we feel having Buck come out third just enhances our chance to win a little bit. Buck's numbers would say he could pitch anywhere. I just think Lack's a veteran, he's done it, spacing [Buchholz] and Lester out, there's something to be said for that, too.
"Lack showed up in great shape and looks ready to go. Ultimately, if they pitch like they should it's not going to matter, and if they don't pitch like they should, it's not going to matter.''
Francona said the start Beckett missed after sustaining a concussion when he was struck by a batted ball in batting practice did not factor into his being slotted fourth after pitching the opener the last two seasons.
"I just think just watching the way last year unfolded we want to get him off to a good start. We'll pitch him in that game in Cleveland. I think that's a good place for him to start.''
That rotation is a little different than we initially projected. The once ace is now the highest paid #4 starter in the league. It was inevitable that the Red Sox would have a high paid starter at the bottom of the rotation, whether it was Lackey or Beckett.
Seems like a kick in the balls for Josh Beckett when he gets the news that he will take the mound against Cleveland to get back on his feet.
It may not bother him and it may be like Lester said yesterday that the playoffs are what matters the most.