John Lackey can’t be Boston’s Game 4 starter

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With the Red Sox trying to put the Rays away in a three-game series beginning Friday, John Lackey has given all three Rays fans reasons to hope: he just left with the Red Sox down 5-0 after three innings.

It’s the first early exit for Lackey during the second half, but it’s the sixth straight outing in which he’s given up at least four runs.  He’s hasn’t allowed fewer than three runs in a start since facing the Mariners on July 22 and he hasn’t done so against a good offense but once all season (against Philadelphia on June 29).

So, while the newspapers have debated whether Lackey or Erik Bedard should start Game 3 of the postseason series for the Red Sox, the real debate is whether Lackey should be on the postseason roster at all.  He might be a better bet in October to go six innings and give up four runs than Tim Wakefield or Andrew Miller, but there really doesn’t seem to be any upside here at all.

With Clay Buchholz making progress and hopeful of returning as a reliever at the end of the month, the Red Sox really need to think about stretching out Alfredo Aceves and setting him up as a postseason fourth starter.  He pitched 3 1/3 innings last time out on Monday, so it’s not as far-fetched as it sounds.  Aceves, who made four starts earlier this season, has a 2.87 ERA in 94 innings on the year.

Of course, the Red Sox also have to be concerned with simply making the postseason.  They’re lead over the Rays will drop to 5 1/2 games if they go on to lose tonight.

Report: Nationals to interview Alex Cora for managerial position

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Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Nationals will ask to speak with Astros’ bench coach Alex Cora after the American League Championship Series concludes on Saturday. This comes on the heels of the news that club manager Dusty Baker will not be returning to the team in 2018.

Cora, 42, has some experience in the Nationals’ organization. He played for the Nats during his last big league stint in 2011, batting .224/.287/.276 through 91 games before announcing his retirement in the spring of 2012. Per Cafardo, he was also offered a player development gig with the club, but has not appeared in any kind of official role with them since his days as a major league infielder. While he’s been lauded for his leadership skills and strong clubhouse presence, he hasn’t acquired any managerial experience since his retirement, save for a handful of games with the Astros where he filled in for A.J. Hinch.

Despite the appeal of having a familiar face in the dugout, the Nationals aren’t the only ones eyeing Cora. The Astros’ coach has already interviewed with the Tigers, Mets and Red Sox this month. Boston appears to be the current favorite to land him and according to at least one source, may even announce his hiring in advance of the World Series next Tuesday.