September 26, 2003

Three-Man Rotations? Oakland is planning on using a 3-man pitching rotation in the ALDS. And according to one report, Boston is considering it too. [Discussion of both A's and Sox plans.]

Under this scenario, Boston's starters would be: Pedro, Lowe, Wakefield, Pedro and Lowe. While this is only in the possibility stage (which doesn't bother me), if it actually happens, I'll be angry. First, working Pedro that hard in the first round doesn't give him any additional starts (as it could in the ALCS or World Series). Second, this rotation gives Lowe two starts in Oakland and for whatever reason, his road stats have been horrible this season (Road: 6-5, 6.01; Home: 11-2, 3.21). Having Wakefield (a fly ball pitcher) pitch Game 2 in the Oakland Coliseum, a pitcher's park with a lot of foul territory (and having Lowe at Fenway), makes sense to me. But it's doubtful whether Theo and Grady would give Wakefield two starts in the series. At this early point, I'd go Pedro, Wakefield, Lowe, Burkett, Pedro.

The only upside to using a 3-man rotation is giving Lowe a second start (on short rest) rather than having a rested Burkett or Suppan start Game 4. I don't think the risk is worth it. But I suppose the situation hinges on who leads the series when Game 4 comes around. If Boston leads 2-1, Burkett/Suppan should start, no question. If Boston's down 2-1, Grady will probably have Pedro on the hill for that do-or-die game. So would Grady be tempted to pull Pedro semi-early from Game 1 in case he needs him to start Game 4? This is probably too much thinking at this point.

Pedro opposes Tim Hudson in Game 1; Hudson beat Boston and Pedro on August 11, throwing 93 pitches in a complete game 2-hitter. Oakland's Game 2 and 3 starters are probably Barry Zito and Ted Lilly. Both of those pitchers are lefties, and since Mirabelli will likely be Wakefield's personal catcher (boo!), it doesn't make any difference which game Wakefield starts if Grady wants Doug to face a lefty.

Trot Nixon fears his season might be over. ... Ray Rotto: The Oakland/Boston series "will hinge on how well the A's do when the Red Sox bat, because the best pitchers and the best hitters make the best show. It's science." ... ESPN's Rick Sutcliffe says this is Boston's year: "The New York Yankees still have to be seen as the favorite in the American League, but the talent gap between the Yankees and the other playoff teams has closed significantly. ... I believe this is the year the Red Sox will overtake the Yankees ... The Red Sox have the best lineup in baseball as well as starting pitchers who can strike guys out. ... The bullpen is one of the few question marks for Boston, but because of the potent offense the Sox might be able to avoid save situations in the playoffs." ... Todd Walker didn't make any friends at Elephants From Oakland.

In Tampa Bay, Boston cruised to a 7-2 win Friday night. ... The only race left is in the NL Central. The Cubs were rained out today and will play a doubleheader at Wrigley on Saturday against Pittsburgh. Houston trails Milwaukee 10-5 in the 6th inning and if they lose will be ½-game behind the Cubs. [Update: The Astros did lose, 12-5.]

RIP George Plimpton.

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