World Series 2013: Is Clay Buchholz' rotation spot at risk?

Rob Carr

Could Clay Buchholz be at risk of missing out on the World Series?

The Red Sox have made no changes to their roster heading into the World Series. At least not yet. But--and file this one firmly under "smoke" and not "fire"--there's reason to think that might change before all is said and done. That's thanks to some observations from Boston.com's Pete Abraham, who noted that both Felix Doubront and Matt Thornton participated in Tuesday's simulated game at Fenway Park.

The reasoning is fairly simple, here. Why would Felix Doubront be throwing three innings the day before Game 1 if he was still in his postseason relief role? Why would he limit his ability to pitch if needed in Wednesday's game? Why would Matt Thornton be throwing if the Red Sox weren't at least thinking about adding him to the roster?

In the event that the team, for whatever reason, feels that Buchholz should not take the mound in Game 3, then Felix Doubront is the natural replacement in the rotation. He's had plenty of rest to help him maybe regain some of his early-season efficacy, and his limited postseason appearances haven't looked too bad, despite coming in the uncomfortable role of relief. Down one left-handed reliever, the Sox would presumably go to Thornton to replace Buchholz on the roster. Not an ideal replacement, but about the only option available.

If this is what's happening, then the Red Sox are understandably tight-lipped right now. There's no reason to let the Cardinals know they're facing Doubront rather than Buchholz in Game 3 until absolutely necessary. Even after a few lackluster starts from Buchholz in the postseason, Sox fans will be hoping that this is all just due diligence from the Red Sox, protecting against the possibility Buchholz can't go and keeping Doubront warmed up at the expense of one game of availability. But if the worst comes to pass, there are certainly worse positions to be in for a team losing a starter in the postseason.

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