As expected, John Lackey is going to miss his next turn in the rotation, which would have come on Friday. Rather than shuffle Jon Lester up a day to take advantage of Tuesday's off day, though, the Red Sox are going to bump Felix Doubront to Friday, and use Alfredo Aceves to close out the series with Baltimore on Thursday.
The bad news? Aceves gets a start, but you knew that was a possibility once Franklin Morales began the season the disabled list. The good news? Lackey might just miss the one, as a second opinion confirmed he's only dealing with inflammation and not a tear in his bicep. Why, though, are the Red Sox not simply skipping Lackey's turn to use Lester and avoid Aceves?
For one, this gets Felix Doubront an extra day off. While it's early on in the year, Doubront should log a new career-high in innings again by the time the season is over, as long as he stays healthy. He's not quite at the level where he can be penciled in for 180-200 innings automatically, so when an opportunity to toss some extra rest his way comes, the Sox are likely to take it. That's understandable, and given Doubront's late-season fatigue in 2012, likely a positive, too.
It's not just Doubront who gets the day to breathe, either, as the whole rotation keeps on schedule, without having to sacrifice the one day off they had left until April 29. It's a small thing, but it's something.
More importantly, though, is that by not skipping Lackey's turn in the rotation, they give themselves more time to make a decision about whether he ends up on the disabled list or not. It's just one more day, but now, rather than seeing how Lackey is in time for Boston's last game of the home stand, the 11 am Patriot's Day contest against the Rays, they can make a decision on him for the 16th, game one of a three-game set on the road against the Indians. If he can't make that start, then the disabled list would be a given at that point, even if it's just for another five days at minimum until his next start.
Last, this gives the Red Sox a chance to see if Aceves has any use left to him at all. He's failed as a reliever over the last few months, in part because his command just isn't the same when he's hurling the ball in the zone with higher velocity than what he utilized in his successful pre-2012 career. If he can still give them something as a spot starter, then he at least justifies his existence on the roster until the return of Morales, Craig Breslow, and possibly Daniel Bard make it so there is no room left for him. Who knows, maybe if he throws well at a lower velocity due to starting rather than relieving, he'll remember just what made him useful in the first place. If he's awful, though, then that answers the question just the same for the Red Sox, just maybe not in the way they had hoped.