The early reports are encouraging on Josh Beckett’s hyperextended left knee, but what if Boston is forced to place him on the disabled list alongside Jon Lester (lat), Clay Buchholz (back) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (elbow)?
Such a move could leave the Red Sox with a rotation of John Lackey, Tim Wakefield, Andrew Miller, Kyle Weiland and Kevin Millwood, if only for a week or two.
And what a far cry that would be from a postseason-worthy rotation.
Lackey has a jumbo-jet-like ERA of 7.47. The 44-year-old Wakefield is at 4.74. Miller has been pretty impressive since his callup, going 3-0 with a 3.57 ERA. However, he went 1-5 with an 8.54 ERA for Florida last year.
Weiland will be making his major league debut in Lester’s place Sunday.
Millwood just gave up four runs in five innings for Triple-A Pawtucket tonight. He had a nice run last month in which he allowed a total of five runs in four starts, but he’s now struggled in two of three outings. Overall, he has a 4.50 ERA in eight starts for Pawtucket.
An alternative to calling on Millwood would be to move Alfredo Aceves from the bullpen to the rotation. Another would be to bring up left-hander Felix Doubront. Doubront pitched seven scoreless innings for Pawtucket two days ago and is 1-3 with a 3.38 ERA in 12 starts this season.
Hopefully, it won’t come to any of that. Beckett might be ready to start in the first series back after the All-Star break. The hope is that Lester will make it back before the end of the month and that Buchholz could return in early August. So, the Red Sox still have plenty of time to get their rotation ready for October. The key will be making it through the next few weeks without doing too much damage to their chances of getting there.
James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.
And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:
“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”
“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.
“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.
I mentioned this in the recaps this morning, but I think it deserves it’s own special place. Get what went down in the second inning of last night’s Rays-O’s game:
Ryan Flaherty was on first with Seth Smith up to bat. Smith hit a single to center. Flaherty, who was running with the pitch, was making for third base. All-world defender Kevin Kiermaier tried to gun him down but threw wildly to third, causing Flaherty to break for home.
Pitcher Alex Cobb had the play backed up, however! He got the ball near the dugout. Flaherty scampered back to third and Cobb tried to throw him out. The ball hit Flaherty’s helmet, richocheting into left field, allowing both Flaherty and Smith — who had stopped at first and then stopped at second, like a kid at tee ball or something — to come around and score.
I still think the Rays walking home the winning run on four pitches in the 11th inning was worse, but this looked worse.
Oh well: the Rays get the day off today and tomorrow, of course, is another day.