I'm gonna go out on a limb here: with the magic number for a playoff berth at three, and the division title at four, the Boston Red Sox will play postseason baseball in 2013.
Accepting that, let's jump on ahead to Friday, October 4th, and Game One of the American League Division Series. Who is taking the mound for the Red Sox?
This is an answer that has changed many times since the beginning of the year. In March, the response would probably be "Why are you even thinking about that? But gun to my head Buchholz. Oh God our starting pitching is going to be such a mess this year." But then Buchholz started missing time, and maybe Jon Lester got in there for a minute or two around when he was throwing one-hitters. Then Lester started sucking and Lackey took his place, having been the most consistent starter throughout the year.
Now, though, we've got Buchholz back, and looking pretty good. Lester is outdueling Max Scherzer and CC Sabathia (admittedly, the latter isn't that hard these days), and John Lackey, if the numbers haven't been at their best of late, has actually looked just the same as ever this year, aside from the seven-run shellacking that was probably at least 90% the result of that series' awful voodoo.
This, by the way, is the part where you notice Jake Peavy hasn't even been mentioned. Which is ridiculous.
So, who goes first? Who do the Sox turn to to get the playoffs started right? If only one man is going to go twice in a five-game division series, who's it going to be? Do the Sox gamble on the newly-returned Buchholz, with his gaudy numbers, the reliable Lackey, who has been there all season long, or the middle-ground with Lester, who's looked like an ace of late, but has faded dramatically at times over these past few years?
Or do they just trot Koji out there and see what happens? It's not like he can do any wrong.
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