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John Lackey can’t be Boston’s Game 4 starter

Sep 9, 2011, 8:36 PM EDT

John Lackey Getty Images

With the Red Sox trying to put the Rays away in a three-game series beginning Friday, John Lackey has given all three Rays fans reasons to hope: he just left with the Red Sox down 5-0 after three innings.

It’s the first early exit for Lackey during the second half, but it’s the sixth straight outing in which he’s given up at least four runs.  He’s hasn’t allowed fewer than three runs in a start since facing the Mariners on July 22 and he hasn’t done so against a good offense but once all season (against Philadelphia on June 29).

So, while the newspapers have debated whether Lackey or Erik Bedard should start Game 3 of the postseason series for the Red Sox, the real debate is whether Lackey should be on the postseason roster at all.  He might be a better bet in October to go six innings and give up four runs than Tim Wakefield or Andrew Miller, but there really doesn’t seem to be any upside here at all.

With Clay Buchholz making progress and hopeful of returning as a reliever at the end of the month, the Red Sox really need to think about stretching out Alfredo Aceves and setting him up as a postseason fourth starter.  He pitched 3 1/3 innings last time out on Monday, so it’s not as far-fetched as it sounds.  Aceves, who made four starts earlier this season, has a 2.87 ERA in 94 innings on the year.

Of course, the Red Sox also have to be concerned with simply making the postseason.  They’re lead over the Rays will drop to 5 1/2 games if they go on to lose tonight.

  1. quintjs - Sep 9, 2011 at 8:46 PM

    This is where the Sox get into trouble. Because Aceves is perfect for his role, he just comes in and puts in zeros. Its why he has so many wins. You want him to do that in the postseason – tied game, or extra innings you just send in Aceves and he will pitch until your offense wins it.

    That said, you have to stretch him out and make him your 4th starter.

    Side question – Matthew, did you write this article during the game or did you have it ready to go?

    • Matthew Pouliot - Sep 9, 2011 at 8:50 PM

      Ha. No, it was written as soon as he departed. I don’t take chances like that… what if he had gone and thrown seven scoreless innings…

      OK, fine, in this case it would have been risk free.

  2. proudlycanadian - Sep 9, 2011 at 8:54 PM

    The way the Sox are playing lately, they may not have to worry about pitching in the playoffs. They are down to 1 effective starting pitcher and his next start will be against Shields.

    • Glenn - Sep 9, 2011 at 9:56 PM

      When a team is playing poorly, it is easy to write them off. The Sox are too good to just forget about them. They couldn’t be playing any worse right now.

  3. drmonkeyarmy - Sep 9, 2011 at 9:01 PM

    If the season ended today, Lackey would have the highest ERA for a pitcher without a losing record. He has an ERA of 6.30 barely edging out Adam Eaton and his 6.29 ERA. Being mentioned in a sentence with Adam Eaton is not a good thing.

  4. raysfan1 - Sep 9, 2011 at 10:21 PM

    3 Rays’ fans? Woohoo!! …uh, wait… who’s the third besides me and Hittfamily?

    • hittfamily - Sep 10, 2011 at 2:04 AM

      That’s what I’m wondering. Sox are down to a 3.5 game lead come Monday. Hellickson, our fifth starter, has been just as good as Lester. Tonight, they faced our worst starter, and got smoked. Go Rays!!

      • indaburg - Sep 10, 2011 at 7:31 AM

        Hope you’re right, hitt, about being 3.5 back. (ha, my autocorrect changed hitt into butt.) I love making the Sox and their fatalistic fans sweat (Exhibit A: aceshigh’s post). I thought last night was for sure going to be a loss. As bad as Lackey has been, Wade Davis had a career 11.02 era against the Sox. As long as the Rays squeak out a couple of hits, they can hang on. Please Jabu, don’t let bats go cold tonight.

    • indaburg - Sep 10, 2011 at 7:18 AM

      That would be me.

  5. basiltharat - Sep 9, 2011 at 10:52 PM

    I’m a Rays fan. Well, first and foremost I’m a Yankee fan. Then I moved to St. Pete and kind of adopted the Rays as my second team. So maybe I should count as half a Rays fan and my dad as the other half.

    “… the Red Sox also have to be concerned with simply making the postseason.” — I’m assuming Red Sox fans know that this is silly.

  6. titknocker - Sep 9, 2011 at 10:59 PM

    John Lackey SUCKS!!!!!

    • pisano - Sep 10, 2011 at 1:14 AM

      titknocker ….I think that pretty much sums it up.

    • aceshigh11 - Sep 10, 2011 at 3:49 AM

      You think?? 😉

      Between John Lacklustre and AJ Burnout, I don’t who is worse.

  7. aceshigh11 - Sep 10, 2011 at 3:52 AM

    This is a nightmare.

    The wildcard is now slipping away. These guys are playing like don’t even care anymore. It seems to happen every year, and some of the blame invariably has to go to Francona.

    He does not motivate his guys, preferring to be passive with them and allowing to rest rather than pushing for the division win. It is a terrible strategy…

    Yes, there really is not upside to the division…home field advantage has been proven not to matter (considering the Sox road record), and facing either the Rangers or the Tigers is gonna be tough either way, but it’s the lack of a KILLER MINDSET that gets me.

    The Yankees push at the end, while the Sox drink margaritas and cruise. Who would YOU have more faith in?

  8. pxeeks - Sep 10, 2011 at 11:24 AM

    He’s a bumpkin. Awful!

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