The Red Sox are out for a sweep in Toronto Sunday afternoon, sending Steven Wright to the mound against Marco Estrada and the Blue Jays.
|BOSTON RED SOX||TORONTO BLUE JAYS|
|Mookie Betts, RF||TBA|
|Dustin Pedroia, 2B|
|Xander Bogaerts, SS|
|David Ortiz, DH|
|Hanley Ramirez, 1B|
|Travis Shaw, 3B|
|Chris Young, LF|
|Blake Swihart, C|
|Jackie Bradley Jr., CF|
|Starting Pitcher -- Steven Wright||Starting Pitcher -- Marco Estrada|
In a way, this game is a freeroll for the Red Sox. They will leave Toronto with a series win, and arrive in Boston with a winning record for the home opener no matter what happens here. The results on the rotation front have been...mixed...and that's certainly important for the long-term picture, but today, it's Steven Wright. If he's good, that's great. The Sox would love to have one of their uncertain backups prove his mettle. If he's not, well, he also comes with the asterisk of being a temporary replacement for Eduardo Rodriguez.
Even as a "freeroll," though, the fact is that every game counts equally. If the Red Sox are one game back come September, the league won't give them a pass because they won so many series or anything like that. This road trip can't help but be a success by this point, but the more dominant your successes, the more leeway you have with your failures. And it's never too early to start building the nest egg.
Whether or not they can take it might depend more on the man on the mound for Toronto than anything else, though. This Red Sox lineup has pretty much been unstoppable thus far this season, and now they come up against a Blue Jays pitcher with as much uncertainty as most of their rotation. Marco Estrada had one of those seasons in 2015 that looks brilliant on television, but doesn't really hold up under scrutiny, and has seen his peripherals drop steadily--and not too slowly--over the past four seasons. He looks like he's on course for a let-down year, and is even coming off a short spring training to boot. One gets the feeling that Jays fans might be as interested in this start as Sox fans were in Kelly's first.
Meanwhile, in the lineup, it's the first Chris Young start of the year. This obviously isn't quite according to plan--he's really here to face lefties--but the Red Sox have had a bunch of right-handed opponents in a row to start the season, and John Farrell is just looking to get him in there at this point. Frankly, I'd rather have him playing left in Fenway behind David Price than in Toronto behind Steven Wright. And it's a little awkward to be sitting Rusney Castillo after a strong debut and Brock Holt after his generally insane start. But this Red Sox team was always going to have some shuffling to do with the lineup, and it should generally keep guys from wearing out as the year goes on.
First pitch is at 1:07 p.m. EDT with broadcasts on NESN, WEEI, and the MLB Network.