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Setting the Red Sox rotation...without Jon Lester?

Is it time to set the Red Sox rotation without Jon Lester in it? At least for one turn, yes.


Don't look now, but Boston's rotation is kind of a mess. Clay Buchholz is starting twice every three weeks, Ryan Dempster can't really figure out if he's a #2 or a #7. John Lackey and Felix Doubront are the reliable ones, and that's even taking into consideration Lackey's decision to prove against Tampa that, indeed, no big is too large to lose.

And then there's Jon Lester. Or the man we once knew as Jon Lester. Where April brought promise, the past month has provided nothing of the sort. What we've seen since those 16 innings of dominance in the early days of May has been the Lester of 2012 in more ways than one.

Simply put, he could not have chosen a worse time. As is the Red Sox are having trouble cobbling together five guys to pitch five games, particularly with double headers thrown in. And yet, there's no escaping it: something is wrong with Jon Lester, and it needs fixing. As inconvenient as it may be, now is the time to take a step back and try to fix him off the field. The only question is how do they find the time?

Let's look at the upcoming rotation. Tonight, the Red Sox expect to have Felix Doubront on the mound, though it seems entirely possible that the weather will have something to say about that. If all goes off without a hitch, though, it'd likely be Dempster on Friday, Lackey on Saturday, Lester on Sunday, and then Clay Buchholz and one other starter for Tuesday's doubleheader.

Despite all the schedule and roster shenanigans, getting Lester out of the rotation for one turn would not be so difficult. Franklin Morales was scheduled to get last night's start before the marathon on Monday disrupted that particular plan. Throw in some positive results from that outing, and it's not hard to see one lefty taking over for the other.

That, of course, leaves Tuesday's doubleheader. Yes, Doubront could get the call, but that would just push the problem further down the line. Instead, the Red Sox can use the 26th roster spot they're allowed in a doubleheader to cover the gap. That man could be Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, or even, yes, Alfredo Aceves, as teams can forego the 10-day wait between optioning a player and recalling them if it's for use in a doubleheader.

That would leave Doubront free to go on Wednesday, Dempster on Thursday, and then, if the Sox think they've made progress with him, Lester on Friday. If not, then Lackey gets the call, and the Sox keep on rolling for as long as they can mange. The one biggest issue would be that the Sox would be short a bullpen arm, and frankly if the team can get Lester onto the disabled list somehow, that might be the best for everyone.

Barring that particular scenario, though, it's time to start setting the scenario for the next week or so without Lester on it. He needs to work out his issues, and whatever they may be, pitching high-stress innings on the mound doesn't seem to be helping.

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