Jon Lester to start ALDS Game 1

Updated: October 3, 2013, 9:07 AM ET
By Tony Lee | Special to ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell confirmed Wednesday what many thought for the better part of a week, naming Jon Lester as his Game 1 starter in the AL Division Series, which begins Friday at Fenway Park.

Farrell made the announcement after the team's six-inning scrimmage. John Lackey will start Game 2 and Clay Buchholz and Jake Peavy, the two starters in the scrimmage, will go in Games 3 and 4, respectively.

For Lester, it will be his ninth postseason appearance and seventh start. It is his first playoff outing since getting the loss opposite Lackey in Game 1 of the 2009 ALDS at Fenway against the Angels. Lester carries loads of momentum into this postseason, having gone 5-2 with a 2.19 ERA over his final 10 outings.

"He's been outstanding in the second half and the last eight starts he's put together for us he's been very strong," Farrell said. "He'll lead the way for us from a starting standpoint."

Farrell referenced the strides that Lester made since a swoon in May and June that pushed the lefty's ERA up to 4.61 and caused some to wonder if the pre-2012 Lester was still living in that sturdy frame. Turns out he was, and the Red Sox have loads of confidence handing the ball to him come Friday.

"Not being here for a while, in years past, when Jon's on the mound, you've got your work cut out for you as an opponent," left fielder Jonny Gomes said.

Lester, Lackey, Buchholz and Peavy have combined to make 25 postseason appearances. Each is healthy and each has proven to be remarkably reliable when on the mound. Although he would never do so, Farrell could practically pick the order from a hat.

"Very confident," he said when asked his feelings on the foursome. "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."

Beyond Lester's solid stretch run, the thought process when laying out the rotation involved several items, namely Lackey's performance at Fenway this season. The resurgent right-hander had a 2.47 ERA at home while limiting opponents to a .641 OPS.

Those numbers ballooned to 4.48 and .758, respectively, on the road. Farrell called the disparity "a major factor" in his decision to give Lackey the Game 2 start Saturday.

Similarly, Buchholz, who was tremendous in all venues, had an even more remarkable campaign away from Fenway. He was 6-0 with a 1.40 ERA on the road compared to 1.99 in Boston, a disparity that goes in line with the bulk of his career.

Although Buchholz was the team's most dominant pitcher when healthy, he understands the mindset in holding him until Game 3 at Cleveland or Tampa Bay next Monday.

"I'll pitch whenever they want me to," he said after tossing three innings in the simulated game. "It's the first game on the road. Last couple of years I've felt comfortable being on the road. Obviously I'd love pitching in front of the fans here, too, but you've got to win in both places anyway."

Farrell said there are no restrictions anymore for Buchholz, who has made four starts since returning from a three-month layoff. The right-hander reached seven innings for the first time since May 22 his last time out at Baltimore and got his pitch count up to 113. He said he felt "even better" Wednesday than he did against the Orioles five days earlier.

Farrell has yet to finalize the 25-man roster. He said earlier Wednesday that he would carry 11 pitchers, which seemed to indicate that left-hander Matt Thornton and outfielder Quintin Berry were the final two pieces of the puzzle. That announcement may come Thursday, when the Red Sox engage in their final workout before the Rays come to town.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.


EDITORS' PICKS

MORE MLB HEADLINES