Well, OK, it doesn’t have quite the same ring.
The Red Sox’ problem with Lester is a different one from the Yankees’ with Mike Mussina. Mussina is in the twilight of his career; Lester’s is (hopefully) just beginning. All season, Lester has had trouble controlling the ball, saved only because he gives up a relatively low number of hits (at least, that was the formula last night). Mussina, on the other hand, hasn’t walked many, but is getting tattooed seemingly every time he takes the hill.
Another difference: Mussina has often put the Yankees into a hole from which they cannot recover. The team is 10-12 when he takes the hill. The Red Sox are somehow 5-1 in Lester starts, despite his paltry 33 percent quality-start ratio.
The solutions could be similar. The Yankees may bring up Ian Kennedy, as YF posits below. The Sox may have an answer in Clay Buchholz.
Buchholz pitched well in his big-league debut, getting the win despite allowing a fair number of hits and walks. Command has been Buchholz’s strong point and has always been Lester’s weakness. It could be that Buchholz is already where Lester is now, but with far better success against the minor-league opponents against whom Lester struggled this season.And, not to be flippant, but Buchholz isn’t recovering from cancer. A callup could allow Lester more time to regain strength in AAA or the bullpen.
Do the Sox want to do this? I don’t really think so, unless Lester simply becomes an untenable option every fifth day (though three starts with a game score of 40 or lower isn’t a good beginning). Like Kennedy, Buchholz would be thrust into the heat of a pennant race, and success stories like Papelbon’s aside, it just isn’t a good idea if you can avoid it. Likewise, being demoted at such a juncture could hurt Lester more than it would help, particularly as the minor-league season winds down. With Sept. 1 approaching, it seems safe to bet Buchholz will be the Sox’ Joba Chamberlain, providing potential ace relief out of the bullpen, ready to ride to Lester’s rescue at any moment.
Sounds good to me.