Farrell names rotation; Lester starts Game 1

Farrell names rotation; Lester starts Game 1
October 2, 2013, 6:15 pm
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(AP Photo)

BOSTON – Red Sox manager John Farrell made official Wednesday afternoon what had been widely assumed by many: Left-hander Jon Lester will start Game 1 of the American League Division Series Friday afternoon at Fenway Park against either the Rays or Indians.
 
Lester will be followed by Lackey in Game 2 at Fenway, and Clay Buchholz in Game 3 and Jake Peavy in Game 4 (if necessary) on the road in the best-of-five series.
 
In 33 starts, Lester was 15-8, with a 3.75 ERA, while the Sox were 19-14 in those games.  He has made eight postseason appearances, including six starts, posting a record of 2-3 with a 2.57 ERA. He was the winning pitcher in the clinching World Series Game 4 against the Rockies in Colorado in 2007. His last postseason appearance was in Game 1 of the 2009 ALDS, when he started and took the loss to the Angels, with Lackey getting the win.
 
In 13 starts since the All-Star break, Lester is 7-2 with a 2.57 ERA. In 13 starts at Fenway this season, he is 7-1 with a 3.09 ERA.
 
In nine starts between Aug. 8 and Sept. 20 – between giving up six runs to Arizona on Aug. 2 and four runs at Baltimore on Sept. 28 – Lester was 5-2 with a 1.80 ERA while the Sox were 5-4 in those games.
 
“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.
 
“I think when you look at the year overall there was probably a six- or seven-start period where he was a little bit less than. Other than that, he’s been at a very strong and productive year for us and we’re hoping that that continues throughout October.”
 
While Lester has postseason experience, that wasn’t the only reason Farrell chose him for Game 1. All four pitchers have playoff experience.
 
“It’s based on how consistent [Lester has] been,” Farrell said. “Can’t say that [postseason] experience is the sole factor that he leads us off. All four guys have pitched in the postseason. And I’m sure to each guy that will be something they’ll draw upon.
 
That along with their performances this season gives Farrell reason to be confident.
 
“Very confident,” he said. “We’re deep, we’re talented. Guys have been very consistent for the better part of the entire season. And each guy that takes the mound we’re very confident will put together a solid game.”
 
Lackey is 10-13 with a 3.52 this season, his first after Tommy John surgery after the 2011 season. His home-road splits were stark – 6-3 (2.47) in 13 starts at Fenway, 4-10 (4.48) in 16 road starts  – leading to Farrell’s decision.
 
“That’s a major factor in it,” Farrell said. “But we also set up the rotation in the final series of the year to take all that into account, including giving him a little bit of a breather. So, his home-road splits are pretty clear and he feels comfortable and confident pitching here in Fenway.”
 
While Buchholz – along with Peavy, one of the starting pitchers in an intrasquad game Wednesday at Fenway -- was limited to just 108 1/3 innings because of injury, Farrell is confident the right-hander, who is 12-1, with a 1.74 ERA, has gotten enough work to be ready for the playoffs.
 
“We've taken him over 100 pitches a couple of different times,” Farrell said. “Today, just the three-inning tune-up for him, but there’ll be no restrictions in terms of pitch count.”