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Red Sox vs. Rays lineups: Proving day for Pomeranz

All eyes are on Pomeranz as the Sox aim for nine straight.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

It's a big day for Drew Pomeranz on the mound, as the lefty tries to show he's still got enough left to give to start in the playoffs.


Lineup

BOSTON RED SOX TAMPA BAY RAYS
Dustin Pedroia, 2B Logan Forsythe, 2B
Xander Bogaerts, SS Kevin Kiermaier, CF
David Ortiz, DH Evan Longoria, 3B
Mookie Betts, RF Brad Miller, 1B
Hanley Ramirez, 1B Mikie Mahtook, RF
Travis Shaw, 3B Corey Dickerson, LF
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF Alexei Ramirez, SS
Bryan Holaday, C Bobby Wilson, C
Brock Holt, LF Luke Maile, DH
SP -- Drew Pomeranz SP -- Chris Archer

Normally, two bad starts in a row just wouldn't be that big a deal. But for Drew Pomeranz, it fits a little too perfectly with the concerns that many had with Pomeranz coming into the trade given his inexperience pitching deep into the season as a starter. If Pomeranz is running out of gas, well, nobody would be terribly surprised, to the point where I don't think the Sox would even be particularly upset. They got some work out of Pomeranz for a stretch where they were desperate for anyone who could keep a game remotely close, and if they have to turn to Clay Buchholz as the fourth man in the postseason rotation and put Pomeranz back into the bullpen as a late-inning reliever, that's just not the worst outcome when you consider the extra years on his deal.

Normally, though, they'd at least care a lot about this start. Heading into these last few weeks of 2016, the Red Sox had to have their series against the Rays earmarked as a chance to gain some ground on the East. But the benefit of putting up eight straight wins against opponents like the Yankees and most of all Orioles is that you can lose a game or two to the Rays without really raising any great alarm. Still better to win, of course. It's just that right now it seems like a disaster start from a pitcher who needs some time off is about the only way that's going to happen.

In the lineup, well, it's a no-Leon day. We haven't seen the full nine all that often of late, but if it means the Sox go into the playoffs at their best, again, we won't be seeing any must-win games before then without plenty of warning, so they might as well give out rest where they can.

First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. ET with broadcasts on NESN and WEEI.