The Red Sox have not announced their rotation for the American League Championship Series. But it’s virtually certain that Jon Lester will start Game 1 Saturday at Fenway Park against the Athletics or Tigers.
Manager John Farrell said on WEEI Wednesday that he would “probably lead off with Lester.” For Farrell, that’s essentially confirmation.
Lester won Game 1 of the Division Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, allowing two earned runs over 7⅔ innings in a 12-2 victory.
From there, the Red Sox have a lot of options that will hinge on the opponent.
“We’ll take a look at all things once it’s determined,” Farrell said.
Jake Peavy pitched very well against the Rays in Tuesday night’s series clincher, albeit it for only 74 pitches and 5⅔ innings. He could come back for Game 2 on regular rest. Peavy has not faced the Athletics since April 23, 2012, and that could be a big advantage for him.
Peavy faced the Tigers once this season, in July in his final start for the White Sox, and allowed four runs over seven innings.
John Lackey is 9-5, 2.83 in 18 career starts at Oakland Coliseum. That includes allowing two runs over seven innings on July 12. A bigger ballpark he is familiar with could suit Lackey well.
“Those are all the normal things we would take into this,” Farrell said.
Clay Buchholz was shaky against Tampa Bay in Game 3, giving up three runs on seven hits and three walks over six innings, but he could slot into Game 2 if Farrell chooses.
However it shakes out, the Red Sox have major advantages in terms of rest and travel. Their pitchers will have three days off before Game 1. Meanwhile, the Athletics or Tigers face a long flight to Boston after their Game 5 Thursday night.
The Red Sox also get extra time to prepare advance scouting reports, something that served them well against the Rays. The Sox scored 26 runs in four games against the Rays and hit .286 with an .804 OPS. Their pitchers had a 3.03 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP.
Major League Baseball has not announced the start time of the games. But Fox said in a press release that Game 1 would start at 7:30 p.m. with Game 2 at 8 p.m.
Jacoby Ellsbury was 9 of 18 in the Division Series with seven runs scored, two RBIs, four stolen bases, and a walk. Over 26 career postseason games dating to 2007, Ellsbury is hitting .310 with a .795 OPS.
The Red Sox have so far won five of the seven playoff series Ellsbury has participated in.
Shane Victorino was 6 for 14 in the series with two runs and three RBIs. He also was hit by a pitch four times, a Division Series record.
Over 50 postseason games in his career, Victorino has hit .280 with an .801 OPS. He is nine for 10 on stolen bases.
“It all feels good. Obviously moving on,” Victorino said. “We knew it was going to be a tough series for us. This is a part of baseball that you look forward to, you train every offseason for, you go to spring training, you look forward to these kind of times.
“Again, this is one step. We have two more to go. But it’s always nice to be able to move on.”
The Red Sox flew back to Boston after eliminating the Rays, arriving at close to 6 a.m. The team was off Wednesday and will work out at Fenway Park Thursday afternoon. There will be another workout Friday . . . Fox will have Joe Buck and Tim McCarver on the games with Ken Rosenthal and Erin Andrews as reporters . . . Former Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez, who has drawn praise for his work on TBS, is impressed with what he has seen. “The Red Sox attack the other team like a wolf pack,” Martinez said on the air. “They see the deer that’s hurt, they all go at it from different angles.”