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Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Who should start Game 1 for Red Sox?

By ESPNBoston.com

Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell shed a little light on who will get the start in Game 1 of the ALDS on Monday night, telling WEEI’s Road to October show that it’ll probably be either John Lackey, Jon Lester or Clay Buchholz.

He said those are the three pitchers lined up to start in Baltimore in the final series of the season from Sept. 27-29. Because of the one-game wild card playoff game, the Sox -- provided they win the AL East (their magic number is four) -- have an opportunity to line their pitchers up any way they want for the playoffs.

“This year is so different,” Farrell told WEEI. “We’ve got 4 days off between the end of the season and the possible first game. There’s not the play-in game, there’s the ability to arrange things. In the past, we never had that option. You went from the last day of the season, one day off, and your next series started. So your rotation was kind of pared down to maybe one or two options, it was pretty clear. This time around, we have the possibility of more options.

“Just looking at the way our rotation plays out the remaining 11 games, when we go to Baltimore it’s going to be Lackey, Lester and Buchholz. That’s the way it’s falling right now. Those are the three guys who are going to start that series. That’s kind of where we are, and I think probably one of those three will end up pitching Game 1, provided that we get there.”

Which one would you choose for Game 1? We make the case for each below:

* Jon Lester: In his past eight starts, Lester has been the dominant ace the Red Sox were hoping for all season long. He is 4-2 with a 1.86 ERA since early August, this after a 14-start stretch from May-July in which he was 4-6 with a 5.81 ERA.

* Clay Buchholz: After missing almost three months, Buchholz has actually been better since his return that he was over his first 10 starts of the season (9-0 with a 1.71 ERA). Though he walked four and surrendered an unearned run in his last outing, Buchholz has gone 11 innings without surrendering an earned run in two September starts.

* Jon Lackey: Though he hasn’t gotten the run support, Lackey has been the most consistent Red Sox starter this season. He had a 3.22 ERA before a bad outing in the Bronx (7 runs in 5 2/3 innings) earlier this month.