The Pitching Puzzle

Some things we know. Some things we don’t. For example, we know that the earth is round. We don’t know why the Democrats seem intent on throwing away perhaps the most winnable election since Barry Goldwater was their chief opposition.

Similarly, we know that Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jon Lester are the Red Sox’s two opening starters. We don’t know much of anything about Josh Beckett’s status or who the fifth starter will be.

Not knowing doesn’t stop the political commentariat from speculating ad nauseum about the motivations behind the seemingly unending Democratic presidential race. And not knowing won’t stop us from speculating as to who will be starting when for the Red Sox in the next two weeks.

Here’s my stab, built off the Boston Globe’s guesses:

  • March 21: at Hanshin Tigers (Exh.) — Clay Buchholz
  • March 23: at Yomiuri Giants (Exh.) — Tim Wakefield
  • March 25: vs. Athletics — Daisuke Matsuzaka
  • March 26: vs. Athletics — Jon Lester
  • March 28: at Dodgers (Exh.) — Clay Buchholz
  • March 29: at Dodgers (Exh.) — Tim Wakefield
  • March 30: at Dodgers (Exh.) — Julian Tavarez
  • April 1: at Athletics — Daisuke Matsuzaka
  • April 2: at Athletics — Jon Lester
  • April 4: at Blue Jays — Clay Buchholz
  • April 5: at Blue Jays — Tim Wakefield
  • April 6: at Blue Jays — Julian Tavarez
  • April 8: vs. Tigers (Home opener) — Josh Beckett
  • April 9: vs. Tigers — Daisuke Matsuzaka
  • April 10: vs. Tigers — Jon Lester
  • April 11: vs. Yankees — Tim Wakefield
  • April 12: vs. Yankees — Clay Buchholz
  • April 13: vs. Yankees — Josh Beckett

The big question seems like the identity of the fifth starter. The Sox can get by with using just their top four arms up to March 30, and even then could use Matsuzaka but one assumes the Sox will stick to their two-man regular-season rotation for the A’s series.

The 30th is an exhibition; it could be a good time to use Bartolo Colon, but I’m not sure what the roster requirements are for those games. Likewise, it might not be good, if he can still only go three or four innings, to need to use the bullpen so heavily the game before Opening Day. So I went with Tavarez, who seems to have the incumbent’s edge in the fifth spot, even though Kyle Snyder has pitched pretty well this spring. I can’t say I have much confidence that either of them can go more than three innings, though.

On April 6, the Sox could again use Matsuzaka and skip the fifth starter, but that would mess up the rotation for the home-opening series. Presumably, you want Beckett, Matsuzaka and Lester going those first three games. I like the possibility of that April 11-13 series against the Yankees. Of course, if you started Daisuke April 6, he could go April 11, making the starters Matsuzaka-Buchholz-Beckett against the Yanks, with Wakfield and Lester moving up to start against Detroit. I think I would like that better.


20 comments… add one
  • We don’t know why the Democrats seem intent on throwing away perhaps the most winnable election since Barry Goldwater was their chief opposition.
    ___________________________________ true. And pathetic.

    Brad.. March 18, 2008, 2:56 pm
  • That prediction seems to be almost exactly what I was thinking when looking at who was available v. when and where the games were.

    Brad.. March 18, 2008, 2:57 pm
  • First, I’m rather impressed with Dice-K’s ability to be two people at once (I’m guessing he’s also Jon Lester)!
    “Similarly, we know that Daisuke Matsuzaka are the Red Sox’s two opening starters.” ;)
    I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Colon pitched on the 30th – the Sox would love to have him as a fifth starter option and I think they’d probably want to use him in that series to get the best possible gauge of where he’s at for the early part of the regular season. Other than that, I’m pretty sure you’re right in that they’d throw Tavarez out as our fifth starter for a while.
    I would, frankly, prefer to have Daisuke going on the 6th – the order of the rotation for the home-opening series is just not as important to me as setting up the rotation well for the Yankees series.

    Micah-SF March 18, 2008, 2:59 pm
  • Massarotti in the Herald today has Colon perhaps pitching the first exhibition in LA. That would make that series look like this:
    March 28: at Dodgers (Exh.) — Bartolo Colon
    March 29: at Dodgers (Exh.) — Clay Buchholz
    March 30: at Dodgers (Exh.) — Tim Wakefield

    Paul SF March 18, 2008, 3:00 pm
  • Haha, good catch Micah. Although, I believe we can all agree the vast potential of Daisuke Matsuzaka has yet to be fully tapped. ;-)

    Paul SF March 18, 2008, 3:02 pm
  • I could see that – hope it’s not the case though, I have tickets to the exhibitions on the 28th and the 30th but not the 29th, and I’d really like to see Clay pitch.

    Micah-SF March 18, 2008, 3:03 pm
  • For the record, it was Silverman in the Herald, not Massarotti.

    Paul SF March 18, 2008, 3:17 pm
  • please, please, please, have clay start the exhibition game on the 29th. that’s the LA Coliseum game that will produce the largest crowd to ever attend a baseball game (120,000 with me being one of them). i have standing room only tickets for centerfield / USC’s endzone (on the field). should be pretty crazy.

    sf rod March 18, 2008, 4:47 pm
  • Odd note:
    Silverman in his own story says Colon may start the first exhibition in LA. Silverman and Bradford in a joint story say Colon will probably start the last exhibition in LA.
    Allrighty then.

    Paul SF March 18, 2008, 4:59 pm
  • I’m surprised you guessed Beckett will start the Home Opener. I hope you’re right, cause I already have tickets and want to see him pitch over any other pitcher. Is anyone else going?

    Atheose March 19, 2008, 8:32 am
  • Anyone hear anything about the Sox boycotting the trip to Japan because the coaches are getting stiffed? Me, I’m for anything that puts them in an automatic 0-2 hole over a matter of about a million dollars.

    AndrewYF March 19, 2008, 10:08 am
  • I hadn’t heard anything about that Andrew. What’s up with that? I hope the front office isn’t screwing people over.

    Atheose March 19, 2008, 10:18 am
  • It’s not the front office, it’s MLB. The Red Sox thought their coaches were each getting $40,000 for making the trip. Then they heard that Oakland’s coaches weren’t getting anything, and they figured out their coaches aren’t getting anything. Either way, I can’t see them not making the trip.

    AndrewYF March 19, 2008, 10:21 am
  • Yeah, $40,000 is nothing. If all else fails the Red Sox will fork over the cash as a short-term solution, and deal with MLB later. The games must go on!

    Atheose March 19, 2008, 10:58 am
  • sorry, I didn’t realize that you guys were already talking about this.

    Brad.. March 19, 2008, 11:07 am
  • Apparently the players have voted unanimously that if MLB doesn’t pay the coaches, they’re not making the trip.
    They’ve dealt with this in precisely the wrong way. Now, they either don’t make the trip, no one gets paid, and they start the season 0-2, or they do make the trip, and end up looking like a bunch of chumps. They’ve given MLB the upper hand, especially by not doing anything about it sooner.
    Also, the Oakland coaches aren’t being paid and they knew it. That screams to me that the agreement included no pay for the Sox coaches either and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. The Sox, while it’s nice and right that they want the coaches to be paid, have no leg to stand on right now. The right way to go about it is to vote unanimously to pay the coaches out of their own pockets.

    AndrewYF March 19, 2008, 11:10 am
  • I’m upset because this hurts the team. The Red Sox’ spring training is already significantly shorter than most other teams, and they need to get as much work in as possible. Daisuke needs to pitch today so that he’s ready to go next week.

    Atheose March 19, 2008, 11:12 am
  • I should add that I could be wrong. Maybe Oakland found out about it last night and told Francona, and the Sox took a more proactive stance.
    But I still think the best way to go about it is take the attitude “screw MLB” and pay the coaches themselves, it’s spare change for them. If the Yankees were doing this I would be extremely upset with them.

    AndrewYF March 19, 2008, 11:15 am
  • Here’s a solution: the players should get together and give the coaches their portion of the earnings. 40K is nothing to guys like Papi and Manny.

    Atheose March 19, 2008, 11:31 am
  • New thread up top.

    Paul SF March 19, 2008, 11:53 am

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