Red Sox manager John Farrell on Wednesday made official what has been obvious for several weeks now, that Jon Lester will start Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Tampa Bay Rays.
John Lackey, Clay Buchholz, and Jake Peavy will follow.
“We’re deep. We’re talented,” Farrell said. “Guys have been, I think, very consistent for the better part of the entire season. Each guy that takes the mound we’re very confident will put together a solid game.”
Lester (15-8, 3.75 ERA) earned the Game 1 start by going 7-2 with a 2.57 ERA in 13 starts following the All-Star break. The lefthander, who will speak to the media on Thursday, is 2-3 with a 2.57 ERA in eight postseason appearances.
“He’s been outstanding in the second half, and the last eight starts that he’s put together for us he’s been very strong, and he’ll lead the way for us from a starting standpoint,” Farrell said.
“When you look at the year overall, there was probably about a six- or seven-start period where he was a little bit less than [his career standard]. Other than that, he had a very strong and productive year for us, and we’re hoping that continues through October.”
Lackey (10-13, 3.52) was selected for Game 2 based on its location. He is 6-3, 2.47 at Fenway Park and 4-10, 4.48 on the road.
“His home-road splits are pretty clear, and he feels comfortable and confident pitching here at Fenway,” said Farrell.
Buchholz (12-1, 1.74) had to earn a spot in the rotation after spending three months on the disabled list recovering from a shoulder injury. He was 3-1 with a 1.88 ERA over four starts (and 24 innings) in September. Farrell said Buchholz would enter Game 3 without any restrictions.
Peavy was 4-1 with a 4.04 ERA in 10 starts after being acquired from the Chicago White Sox. He has not appeared in a postseason game since 2006.
The Red Sox have until Thursday to submit their roster to Major League Baseball. Farrell said the team would carry 11 pitchers, an indication that Felix Doubront or Matt Thornton would make the team at the expense of a backup outfielder, likely Jackie Bradley Jr.
“We’re heavy in outfielders. I will tell you that’s where a lot of the decision-making centered around, that extra player,” Farrell said.
Farrell also likes the idea of an extra lefthander giving him the opportunity to match up against hitters in the sixth or seventh inning instead of waiting until later in the game.
An extra pitcher also guards against long extra-inning games or weather delays.
“To me, protecting the downside of something unforeseen happening on the mound, pitching-wise, I wanted to shore up that,” Farrell said.
The defensive versatility of players like Shane Victorino, Daniel Nava, Mike Carp, and Xander Bogaerts cuts down on the need for an extra bench player. Farrell also expressed confidence that pinch running specialist Quintin Berry could play the outfield if needed.
That Doubront pitched an inning in Wednesday’s intrasquad game could indicate that he is the choice over Thornton.
Blue team wins
The Red Sox played a six-inning scrimmage before a crowd of 3,900 at Fenway. The Blue Team beat the Red Team, 1-0, in a game that featured only seven hits.
Buchholz went three innings, allowing a run on three hits. Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s RBI double in the first inning was the deciding hit. Peavy struck out five in two innings.
Doubront, Lackey, Craig Breslow, Ryan Dempster, Franklin Morales, Koji Uehara, and Brandon Workman each pitched an inning.
Bradley had two hits. Berry had a diving catch in right to steal a hit away from a disbelieving Dustin Pedroia.
Saltalamacchia and David Ross did not catch to guard against injury. Ryan Lavarnway and bullpen catcher Mani Martinez were behind the plate.
Ross did make a visit to the mound to speak to Breslow.
Castiglione a finalist
Joe Castiglione, the radio voice of the Red Sox for the last 30 years, is one of 10 finalists for the Hall of Fame’s Ford Frick Award for broadcasting excellence.
The winner will be announced on Dec. 11 at the Winter Meetings and will be honored in Cooperstown, N.Y., on July 26, 2014 as part of Hall of Fame induction weekend.
A 20-member electorate, comprised of the 16 living Frick Award recipients and five broadcast historians/columnists, will select the winner.
The other finalists are Jacques Doucet, Ken Harrelson, Bill King, Duane Kuiper, Eric Nadel, Eduardo Ortega, Mike Shannon, Dewayne Staats, and Pete van Wieren.
All of the broadcasters on the ballot, with the exception of van Wieren and the late King, are active.Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.