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The Sports Daily > Firebrand AL
In Good Hands

When the news of Josh Beckett’s strained oblique broke, I’ll admit it, my heart dropped and my shoulders sagged. The one thing that fans and pundits alike thought that the Red Sox had going for them in the post-season was the best post-season, big game pitcher since Curt Schilling.
Knowing that Josh Beckett would kickoff game one of the ALDS in Anaheim on Wednesday night nearly mitigated the Angels home field advantage.
But now, even with the prospect of Josh Beckett pitching game three, some of the experts (I am looking at you Ken Rosenthal) have gone so far as to change their picks for the ALDS as a result of this news.
How could the Red Sox replace someone who in nine career post-season starts was 6-0 with a 1.73 ERA? Could they still be considered World Series contenders without their ace on the hill setting the tone for how things get done in October?
At the same time however, what were your expectations for the season when Josh Beckett started the season on the disabled list? Coming into the year, the Red Sox pitching staff was deep, but realistically, Beckett at the top made that depth a reality.
Beckett’s stellar 2007 campaign, 20-7 with a 3.27 ERA, seemed like a harbinger of things to come. In fact in our 2008 Wisdom of Crowds community projections, Beckett’s expected line looked something like this: 19-8, 3.40 ERA, 200 innings pitched, 192 K’s.
We all know that due to injury, Beckett’s 12-10 record and 4.03 ERA over 174.3 innings pitched, was a far cry from our expectations this season.
The answer lies in the pitcher whose season our Wisdom of Crowds community projections thought would approximate the stats that Josh Beckett did contribute this season; Jon Lester.
While our community projections thought the world of Beckett’s prospects, we pegged Jon Lester for another solid year in his continued development at the Major League level; 14-9, 4.17 ERA over 174 innings pitched.
Lester’s 16-6 record, 3.21 ERA and remarkable 210 innings pitched are remarkably similar to what our community expected of their ace, Josh Beckett, this season.
If I were to have approached this analysis with one of those “pitcher A/pitcher B” columns that we all love to hate (but secretly love), everyone would have (a) seen right through it and (b) picked Jon Lester over Beckett to take the ball in game one of the playoffs.
Want further proof that we are in fine hands? Look no further than the top five games pitched by Red Sox pitchers this season as measured by game score where Lester’s name is penciled in next to three of the top five pitched games by Red Sox pitchers this season. Glance further down that list and you can see Lester eating up one third of the game scores 67 or better.
Even with Josh Beckett’s recent success since returning from the disabled list (2.16 ERA over his twenty-five innings in his final four starts), Jon Lester only won American League Pitcher of the Month for the month of September with a 4-1 record and a 2.14 ERA.
Don’t get me wrong, having only one start instead of a potential two from Josh Beckett in a short series definitely hurts, it isn’t because of the man replacing him on the pole. You can look to and extra start by Daisuke Matsuzaka instead of Beckett, and specifically a potential game five and feel justifiably nervous. But seeing number 31 take the hill in game one shouldn’t give you any pause. For me, it actually gives me a measure of comfort.

Comments

  1. I actually thought that it might be smart to start Lester and Matsuzaka in games 1 and 2 leave Beckett for game 3 even before the oblique. Lester has been the staff’s best pitcher all year long, and Matsuzaka has been better on the road than at the Fens.

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  2. The big thing we have to worry about with Dice-K is the emergence of Walksuzaka when facing LA. If he shows up and cannot pull Houdinis out of his ass, we are fucked over there.
    Lester on the other hand I’m more confident in. Our bats just need to stifle their pitching as best they can so I’m looking at Dusty, Bay, and a couple others to get that going. Hopefully October also spawns an efficient Ellsbury and a Lowrie the likes of which we haven’t seen before.

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  3. I’m not worried about our starters that much; however, I’m worried about our pen. Our middle relief stinks most of the time and Papl has been shaky at best. We need to have the lead late in the game because K-Rod has been lights out.

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  4. This actually statistically may be one of K-Rod’s worst years. he has so many saves only because he’s had so many opportunities. Paps’ peripherals have been much better, I’m not too worried about him. The good news today is that both Lowell and Drew may be ready to play in this series.

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  5. The Headline: In good hands. Off topic but I have to get this out there. I hear alot about Mike Scioscia being the Best manager in the game today. Fine but what about our own Terry Francona. You can always debate his skills but to me Francona should
    be named the best Manager in the game. Terry has two World Series titles to his credit. Yes Mike has got one but Terry has done it in Boston. It’s hard to
    say but put Mike in Boston and he might not do so well. Also I think Theo Epstein should get more dap
    than he gets to. I want theo to be the GM for this team until he is 50 of whatever.

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  6. Besides a recent forgettable outing in the rain, what’s wrong with Papelbon? OK, so he blew a save earlier this month against Tampa, so what? It was his only blown save since the beginning of July. Shaky? A 2.34 ERA is shaky? The guy walked 8 batters all year and only gave up 58 hits in 69 innings of work. He didn’t hit a batsman all year either, which means his WHIP is under 1.00 while his K rate, of course, was over 9.00. His K/BB rate, for godssakes, was 9.63!
    Forget the Yankees game. It was a meaningless game in miserable weather.
    Compare the season Paps had to KRod’s record-setting year, and Paps comes out ahead (except for the saves totals, which as we know is a virtually meaningless statistic anyway). They pitched the same amount, one inning difference between them, 69.1 innings for Paps, 68.1 for KRod. They gave up similar hits totals, 54 for KRod and 58 for Papelbon. They both struck out 77 batters, but KRod walked 34 while, as I said before, Papelbon walked only 8. KRod also hit 2 batsmen, for a WHIP of 1.29. KRod allowed an OPSA of .629, whereas Paps was significantly better at .557. And not that it matters to me, but if you’re worried about blown saves, KRod blew 7 while Paps blew only 5.
    Who would you rather have, 2008 Papelbon or 2008 KRod? The numbers say you want Papelbon. Shaky nothing.

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  7. Sam-
    Yes, I have had that problem before so you're right.
    Regarding Pierzynski, I just hate every baseball player who goes by A.J. Makes it easier.

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  8. There's another Sam here now? Guess I'll have to distinguish myself with my last initial. Sorry for the confusion. The Papelbon comment was mine.
    Re, AJ Pierzynski: I hate the man too, but what did he do this time?

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  9. The last comment was not mine … I’m guessing it was MR since he has come across this problem before … just thought I’d throw that out there
    As far as my opinion of Beckett in Game 3 instead of 1 and 4 … well … it sucks … I have comforted myself during Beckett’s injury-plagued subpar season with the thought of him returning to his ’07 self and carrying us through the playoffs similar to last year … but thats not gonna happen … not in the first round anyways
    As far as his replacement goes … well … that sucks just a little less … Lester has been our savior this season and it is only fitting he should get the opportunity to lead us into the playoffs … I have no fear that he can continue his success with his ice-cold demeanor and incredible maturity … trust in Lester … he has earned it
    As our pitching goes … So go our championship hopes … thats always how it is in the playoffs … but at the same time … our offense has to show up if we want to advance past the Angels … IMO thats the big variable for this year’s Sox team … its gonna be very interesting … and lots of fun (hopefully) … Go Sox!

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  10. Okay MR I dunno then … it wasn’t me … I thought you had been having troubles with my name being already entered when you tried to comment … but whatever … doesn’t matter
    As for Pierzynski … the thing about him that bothers me is everyone knows he is an asshole and yet he is seems to be at the heart of every of his team’s wins … plus I’m a closet Twins fan so yeah

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  11. With good news from Beckett, JD and Mike today, and a great bench, we are strong. With 4 games from Lester/Daisuke (combined 34 – 9 record, etc.); and with Diasuke pitching two road games where he is 9 – 0; and Lester pitching the opener and a home game, where he is equally incredible, we are indeed in good hands. For game #3, Beckett says he will be ready. This should be good.

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  12. I hope u guys are right about Papl. In the last month I saw him give up GW single to Giambi in the Bronx with a sweep on the line. I saw him give a bomb in Tampa to Devil Rays with game and division on the line. I saw him person this w/e get rocked by the Yankees. He looked shaky to me but as we all know from Moneyball, stats dont lie. We need Papl to dominate to win this series.

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  13. yeah theres another Sam here now … Ive been visiting FireBrand since last season lol … but its all good … last initials prevents any further confusion
    What did Pierzynski do now? Well I was just rather frustrated by the outcome of yesterdays Twins/ChiSox playoff game and I couldn't help stating my dislike for him … I wasn't really trying to start a whole conversation about the guy lol

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