Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sox Considering Bruce Chen for Game 163

If there is a 163rd game tomorrow afternoon, the Red Sox might be starting someone new. Bruce Chen's name has been thrown around as a possible starter for the Sox. At the moment, it would be John Lackey who takes the mound.

Not only does Lackey suck, he'd be pitching on 3 days rest. Chen would be on 5 days rest. Chen actually had a decent year with the Royals, going 12-8 with a 3.98 ERA.

Chen didn't face the Rays at all this year, but in 2010, he started against them once and it was a complete game, 2 hit shutout. But in '09 against them, he had a 6.2 inning, 2 earned run game in which he allowed 5 hits and 3 walks.

The current Rays aren't too familiar with him, as they only have 64 total at-bats facing him. 28 of those at-bats belong to Johnny Damon, who hits .464 off him. BJ Upton is 1/12 in his career against Chen. Other than that, though, no Ray has more than 5 at-bats against him. No Ray has more than 1 hit, either. Pitchers tend to have the advantage when hitters aren't familiar with them.

The Rays are more familiar with Lackey (235 total at-bats). They hit .294 off him. Damon is 22 for 60 (.367), Ben Zobrist is 8 for 20 (.400). Lackey was 1-2 vs. Tampa Bay this season, with a 6.46 ERA. Last year he was 2-2, with a 6.26 ERA. This isn't a good matchup for him.

Chen was hit or miss in September. On the 18th, he made a 5.1 inning, 4 earned run start against the White Sox. Then on the 23rd, he went 8 innings against the same White Sox, allowing only 1 run off 2 hits. He was 2-3 in the month, with a pair of brilliant 8 inning starts, and 3 mediocre 4+ run starts.

Lackey has hardly been better down the stretch. 0-2 record with a 9.13 ERA in the month. He had a 3 inning, 5 earned run start against the Rays on the 9th. Like Chen, he was inconsistent. Unlike Chen, he made 3 atrocious starts in September, not 3 mediocre starts. And his 2 "good" starts were just good, not excellent, which Chen's were.

It's not that Bruce Chen is a good pitcher. It's just that John Lackey sucks. I know the entire pitching staff will be available in the bullpen in case Lackey falters, but I think Chen is less likely to outright blow the game. And with Chen, there's at least a possibility of a very good start.

Neither option is very pleasant, but I feel like Chen is the lesser of two evils.

Sox Win a Tense One

That was tense. The Sox' bats kept pulling away, but the Orioles kept coming. Nothing was easy. Just ask Papelbon after he needed 28 pitches for one inning (he needed 29 on Sunday).

The bats needed to come alive, as Bedard just wasn't good enough. Again. Thankfully, the Sox have Alfredo Aceves, who is the biggest unsung hero of the team. 3.2 innings from him (getting 1 more out than Bedard could), as he deservedly got win #10. He's pitched 113 innings this year in 54 appearances (only 4 of those were starts). Without him, the Sox are eliminated from contention over a week ago.

Daniel Bard sucks. I couldn't believe Francona didn't have Papelbon ready to come in to get the last out of the 8th. There's no way in hell that this guy is ready to be a closer.

Before last night, some people probably didn't know who Ryan Lavarnway was. After last night, I don't think anyone doesn't know who he is. He started off with a pickoff, then hits a 3 run homer, then a solo shot as an encore. He's 24, he hit .467 his junior year at Yale. He was hitting .295 in Pawtucket this year. Maybe he's a spark that this team desperately needs.

Ellsbury furthered his MVP bid with a 2 run homer in the 2nd. But another guy who has been contributing down the stretch is Scutaro. His 2 out double extended the inning that Ellsbury hit his homer in. Later, Scutaro hit a 2 run shot of his own. He's hitting .368 in September.

Now we wait for Game #162. The Rays beat the Yankees, thanks in part to a bases loaded triple play. So we wait. Jon Lester will take the mound for the Sox. He's 14-0 in his career against Baltimore. Though it's only his second career start on 3 days rest. That other start didn't go well (4 runs in 5 innings back in April of '08), but he only threw 55 pitches on Saturday so maybe he'll be better rested.

The O's will counter with Alfredo Simon who is 4-9 with a 4.85 ERA. He's a righty journeyman and not very good. There's no reason for the Sox to not score runs off him. He allowed 3 in 4.2 innings against the Sox earlier this year.

And if necessary, the AL Wild Card playoff game would be Thursday at 4:07, and would be in St. Petersburg.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo