The Red Sox will use Jon Lester in Game 1 of the World Series, as they have in their previous two playoff rounds, but there was question as to who would take the ball in Game 2. That's been answered now, as manager John Farrell announced that it would be John Lackey, who started Game 2 of the ALDS, facing off against the Cardinals at Fenway for the second game of the Fall Classic.
Lackey allowed four runs in 5-1/3 innings against a tough Rays' lineup, but rebounded against the equally strong Tigers in the ALCS, defeating Justin Verlander thanks to 6-2/3 scoreless innings accompanied by eight strikeouts and just four baserunners total. All told, he's thrown 192 pitches with 14 strikeouts against three walks in 12 innings, with just the four runs allowed.
A Game 2 start sets Lackey up to take the ball in Game 6 back at Fenway if necessary, which, if his 2013 splits are anything to go on, is a positive: Lackey held opponents to a .232/.266/.375 line and posted a 2.47 ERA in 13 Fenway starts. It's a small sample of course, so it's difficult to go on just that, but there's another reason why Lackey in Game 2 makes sense: Clay Buchholz just isn't himself.
Buchholz has pitched fine enough in the playoffs with one exception: as evidenced in Game 2 of the ALCS, he needs a quick hook for when fatigue sets in and his velocity drops. He doesn't seem to be at full strength following his mid-season shoulder injury, so asking for five innings, or 75-85 pitches, seems like the max at this point. Now, that would make sense for Game 2, because there is a day off afterward for the bullpen to rebound, but at the same time, there's a strategic Game 3 argument when the series moves to Busch Stadium as well: the Red Sox can also pinch-hit for Buchholz to lift him from the game, rather than simply remove him for a reliever. It also gives Buchholz a bit more room to work with should he start to tire mid-inning, as Busch is a much more pitcher-friendly environment, and the Red Sox outfield is capable of tracking down a deep mistake that might hit any number of walls at Fenway.
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