Lester likely to start Game 1 of ALCS for Boston
Left-hander, who has a 2.54 postseason ERA, won Game 1 of ALDS vs. Rays
BOSTON -- With a chance to build on his 2.54 postseason ERA, Jon Lester will likely take the ball for the Red Sox in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series that begins on Saturday at Fenway Park (Watch the game on FOX).
Having advanced past the Rays with a decisive Game 4 win on Tuesday, the Red Sox now await their next opponent, which will be decided when the Tigers and A's meet in Game 5 on Thursday in Oakland (watch at 8 p.m. ET on TBS).
Regardless of the opponent, Lester will likely be taking the mound to start the next series.
"We'll probably lead off with Lester," said manager John Farrell during his weekly appearance on WEEI. "After that, we'll take a look at some things."
Lester will enter Saturday with an already impressive postseason resume. The left-hander first impressed during the Red Sox's run to a 2007 World Series title and hasn't let down since. He led the Sox to a pair of wins when they advanced past the Angels in the 2008 AL Division Series before losing twice against the Rays when Boston was eliminated the following round.
But after Lester's 7 2/3 innings of two-run ball against the Rays to start off the 2013 ALDS, his postseason numbers over 49 2/3 innings contain a .199 opponents' batting average with 46 strikeouts to 16 walks.
Lester has a 4.50 ERA against the patient A's offense in two starts this season, walking nine while striking out nine over 12 innings. Against the Tigers, Lester has a 4.26 ERA in two starts.
John Lackey pitched Game 2 in the ALDS, but that doesn't guarantee he'll pitch Game 2 of the ALCS. Farrell said he'd have to think it over during the next few days. Lackey, too, has a strong postseason resume with a 3.35 ERA over 83 1/3 innings, but he allowed more runs than any of the other Boston starters in the ALDS when he served up four runs on seven hits over 5 1/3 innings.
Because he's pitched substantially better at Fenway Park this year (2.71 ERA, eight homers allowed at home vs. 4.48 ERA, 18 homers allowed on the road), Lackey could still find himself on the mound for Game 2.
Farrell said he wouldn't make any definite decisions until after the other ALDS is finished.
Here are some other tidbits from the interview on WEEI:
• Farrell was surprised the Rays only squeezed two innings out of left-hander Matt Moore, who had a 1.80 ERA against the Red Sox in the regular season, during Tuesday's 3-1 win over the Rays. After starter Jeremy Hellickson was removed having faced just six batters and Jamey Wright pitched one clean inning, the Rays turned to Moore. Moore, who had started the team's defensively treacherous Game 1 loss, struck out three, walked one and allowed one hit over two innings before getting the hook.
"He was removed after two innings -- that was a little odd," Farrell said. "I thought he was set up to go four or maybe five, six innings again."
• Farrell was also surprised Rays manager Joe Maddon used all nine pitchers available out of the bullpen.
"You don't see that much variety inside of nine innings," Farrell said. "I don't think you could ever expect something like that."
• Jake Peavy was pitching brilliantly when he was removed for Craig Breslow on Tuesday. He had allowed one run on five hits and no walks over 5 2/3 innings and thrown just 74 pitches.
"If we were in July, we're probably having an argument on the mound if he's coming out of the game right there," Farrell said.
• Farrell had no regrets about the Game 3 loss, which provided plenty of difficult managerial decisions. He still wouldn't have walked Evan Longoria, who hit the game-tying three-run homer off Clay Buchholz, to get to rookie Wil Myers. The Red Sox were last in baseball with just 10 intentional walks during the regular season and it's something Farrell wants to be consistent with.
"I don't believe in backing a pitcher into a corner," he said.
• The Red Sox's celebration ended shortly after the cameras were turned off Tuesday.
"It didn't last too much longer," Farrell said. "We got on a flight came back here and it landed at 5:30 a.m. A few guys were asleep."