My rotation for the ALDS would be (assuming we don’t pull off a miracle in the division race):
GAME 1: Schilling
GAME 2: Arroyo (strictly because of his home/road splits)
GAME 3: Pedro (think he’s been slightly better at home- so flip-flopping him and Arroyo works out well)
GAME 4: Lowe (who’s been slightly better at Fenway than Wake)
GAME 5: Schilling
If this series goes the distance, then (assuming we draw the [Yankees]) you start Pedro in Game 1 of the ALCS, Arroyo in Game 2, Schilling in Game 3, Wakefield (who fares better against the [Yankees] than Lowe) in Game 4, Pedro in Game 5, Arroyo in Game 6, and Schilling in Game 7.
I like having Pedro and Schilling pitching the odd number games of the series. Those are the games that are the most pivotal to win in a series, since a lot of the odd number games result in breaking series ties.
This is the thinking of Andy Lavin, of Marlins Today. I thought it was a really good springboard to get into the rotation question. Let’s break down the ALDS rotation that Andy brought forth (which I agree with wholeheartedly).
GAME 1: Schilling @ MIN
Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling are the aces of the Red Sox. Why does it make sense to start Schilling over Pedro in Game 1? Schilling’s ERA at home is 3.45 with a 12-1 record. On the road it is a 3.00 ERA and a 9-5 record (due to our lack of offense on the road). Schilling basically has the least extreme home/road splits of the starting corps in 2004 (save for Wakefield, but he won’t be starting in the ALDS in this scenario. More on that later). It makes perfect sense for him to go head to head with Johan (Cy Young) Santana. The best bet to beat Santana is Schilling, and therefore draws the spot in Game 1.
GAME 2: Arroyo @ MIN
This is a no-brainer. Arroyo at home is Cy Yuk with a 3-5 record and 5.35 ERA. On the road, he sports a 7-4 record with a 3.15 ERA. Arroyo starts on the road. Period. He’s been our #3 all this year, so it’s even more of a no-brainer to slot him in Game 2 than Lowe or Wakefield.
GAME 3: Pedro v. MIN
Again, home-road splits play a factor here. Pedro has a 4.40 ERA on the road, 7-5 record. At Fenway he is 9-3 with a 3.22 ERA. Really, all throughout this, it’s been a no-brainer. Plus, if Schilling and Arroyo can win, Pedro can pitch the clinching game.
GAME 4: Lowe v. MIN
Now, the semi no-brainer. Let’s walk through why Lowe should start in the ALDS and not Tim Wakefield.
In September, Derek Lowe is 2-2 with a 5.50 ERA. Wakefield is 0-3 with a 8.50 ERA.
At home, Lowe has a 4.55 ERA (8-4) compared to a 5.91 ERA on the road (6-8). Wakefield: 4.99 (6-6) at home, 4.85 (5-4) on the road.
In the playoffs, career, Lowe is 1-2 in the ALDS with a 2.42 ERA and 0-2 with a 4.87 ERA in the ALCS. Wakefield is 0-3 with a 9.92 ERA in the ALDS, but 4-1 with a 2.81 ERA in the ALCS. You have to give Lowe the nod here with respect to home ERA, September effectiveness and ALDS effectiveness.
GAME 5: Schilling @ MIN
Assuming the Yankees and Red Sox clash in the ALCS, I also agree with Andy’s assessment of the ALCS rotation. In the ALCS, I would much rather see Pedro start on the road and Schilling at home which also sets up nicely for Schilling to pitch a Game 7 if needed. Pedro to start the series off as the ace, Arroyo to pitch on the road, Schilling to welcome the Yankees to Fenway, and Wakefield to draw Game 4. Wakefield has a 1.83 ERA in 19.2 IP against the Yankees so far this year (and prompted Torre to admit Wakefield was the one pitcher the Yankees do not want to face) while Lowe pitched 21.1 IP with a 9.28 ERA. Then you go right back to Pedro to draw Game 5 which also would be at home.
Then you trek back to New York, where you possibly have a choice here. You could either throw Arroyo or Schilling in Game 6. I think if you’re down 3-2, you throw Schilling in Game 6. If you’re up 3-2, you throw Arroyo. You could make a case for throwing Schilling while you’re up 3-2, but then who does that leave for Game 7? You would have Arroyo and Wakefield as your go-to guys, not Schilling. I would much rather try to win Game 6 with an Arroyo/Wakefield tandem and have Schilling primed for a Game 7 if need be. Also keep in mind that if we can win Game 6 with Arroyo/Wakefield and not need to pitch Schilling, this lines up the World Series rotation perfectly: Schilling and Pedro at home, Arroyo and Wakefield away, followed by Schilling yet again. Trek home and toss Lowe with your Gold Glove infield, then start Pedro with Arroyo and Schilling in the bullpen waiting to be used.
If we use Schilling in Game 6 of the ALCS and clinch, then you’d have to start off with Pedro at home, then most likely Wakefield, then Arroyo, then Schilling, Pedro, and then an empty Game Seven, with Schilling and Pedro not available. That’s only if we’re up 3-2, though. If we’re down 3-2, then Schilling has to go Game 6. You have to play to win here. You can’t look to tomorrow when you’re down 3-2, you have to pretend like you’re in a Game 7 here. Any game in which the opponent only needs one more win – that’s the Game 7 game for you.
This upcoming series with the Yankees and Twins is a double-edged sword.
If the Twins sweep the Yankees, it allows us to attempt to jump over the Yankees for first place. If we fail in this attempt, not only do we head to Minnesota, we head there knowing they just swept the Yankees. So it’s a double-edged sword. If we cheer for the Twins to sweep the Yankees and we fail to finish in first, our job just got harder. But if the Twins sweep the Yankees, and we finish in first … oh, happy day!
Nobody ever said that baseball was easy.